TREG: Just how much is portability relevent to the TextBlade...?

I’m not actually sure how practical (as a portable solution) TextBlade will be in reality. I’d like to open a discussion to that end with those of you who have used it, with portability as the context.

I mean, you MUST have a flat surface to work on, which you also need with a bluetooth keyboard (for all intents and purposes, a competing device). The pocket portability is an obvious advantage, but if I have a bag to carry a tablet or laptop around, then the same bag can contain my bluetooth keyboard.

Maybe you don’t use it with a tablet or laptop/netbook. If you’re using it on the road with a mobile phone, with a handy flat surface to work on, then the portability of a TextBlade beats a bluetooth keyboard, since a pocket is all you need.

What do you think? How handy has the TextBlade been on the road? Have you found it hard to find a surface on which to type? Is it more convenient in these scenarios compared to a regular bluetooth keyboard? Are there any situations where a bluetooth keyboard would be more useful?

1 Like

Well, for a 9.7" iPad, a “full size” keyboard is larger than the size of the iPad.

The keyboard case (which is a small keyboard that’s harder to type on) that I have essentially doubles the weight of the iPad, which makes it much less compelling.

So yes, I actually think the portability will be a big deal. Even if it’s just iPad + Smart Cover + TextBlade, being able to take that with me is going to make a huge difference. Quite possibly the difference between not bothering and having it when I need it.

Just the other day I took my iPad and was doing work on it and wished I’d brought my keyboard. Of course, if I had to lug the keyboard along I probably would have given up and just brought my laptop. So a TextBlade is that bump in portability that allows for the iPad to become the device of choice. I imagine I’d just stick a TextBlade in a pocket in my bag and it would be there for whatever device I happen to be using.

I think the portability really comes down to three areas:

  1. Size. Both transport and usage.
  2. Weight
  3. Key feel

As for size, the TextBlade pretty clearly wins in transport and its noticeably smaller in usage as well.

As for weight, the thing is apparently quite light. That’s a big win for me.

And all reports indicate key feel that’s really excellent. Not a compromise to achieve 1) and 2), but actually arguably better than other keyboards due to the spacing, magnets, travel, etc.

I think this is huge. Generally you’d expect to sacrifice one of the above to get the others, but having a product that can win in all three areas is what makes it truly revolutionary instead of a cute gimmick.


My normal usage is as my normal keyboard at home. Most common usage for portability is when I fly to the mainland and only take my iPad. In such planned situations, I have a sheet of plexiglas - really just one of those flat plastic sign holders that let you slide an 8.5x11 inch piece of paper inside of. I almost never type on a desk. I can slide in the computer bag I use anyway. It won’t fit in my ipad only bag (I need to find something closer to 7.5 inches instead of 8.5), but that isn’t the bag I use for trips anyway.

Some people have said they can place the TB right on top of their Macbook keyboards and it works fine. I think the biggest issue would be when using a phone or tablet, you need to be able to place those devices someplace and have a place to use the TB. With a laptop, you can put the whole thing on your lap in many cases, but the phone/tablet gets a bit more complicated.

Jeani bought a white board and a dry erase board, both that were magnetic. I believe she said that, since her ipad case is magnetic, as well as the TB, they both worked very well with this approach. But the one that is large enough for both devices may be an issue with putting in a bag, I would think. Maybe we need that concept, but which would fold in half for putting in a bag.

I think, even if in some cases you may be fine with another keyboard, this one is so small that for those times you don’t think you’ll need to take a keyboard so you leave others behind, you can still take this one and hardly notice. Just in case you do need it.

The other thing is that I just think it works better than other keyboards in almost every way. It feels good typing, doesn’t feel like a compromise, less stress when typing, and flexible with how I can set up different keyboards.


Let me give an example of the advantage of customization.

I use a dvorak layout. Over time, I’ve found certain keys are more likely to give me trouble (note: I am getting better at them).

One of these is the single and double quote marks which on dvorak are where the Q key is on qwerty. And just to the left of that is the tab key.

Well, I will hit the tab key instead of the quotes too many times to suit me. And I happen to have some trouble anyway to get double quotes since I always use the shift key on the same side. Even on a TB, that is a sizable amount of finger travel between the two taking advantage of the sticky shift ability.

So today I got to thinking about it. I don’t use tab very often outside of spreadsheets so what I decided to do was change the tab key on the main layer to be the double quote. So, first, if I do mistype that instead of a single quote, it isn’t as much of a problem (if it becomes a problem anyway, I can just make that key do a single quote too so I can’t miss it!). Meanwhile, it avoids the need to shift for a double quote.

But that about doing tab? Well, I put that in the green layer - the one you access by holding down the space bar like you do for numbers. Not difficult, though I’ll need to live with it for awhile when doing spreadsheets before confirming these changes work well for me.

Normally space-tab gives you ESC, so I moved that to Shift-Tab. Maybe I’ll decide I should reverse the layer for ESC and Tab, but the thing is, whatever little quirks an individual has in their typing, there are options with this thing with out sacrificing basic typing feel.

1 Like

One advantage that gets overlooked in respect to this customisation compared to normal keyboards is that it all happens on the TextBlade independently of the host. There is no need to have any special software loaded on the hosts if you want to customise the keyboard.

As an example I have all my systems set to expect a UK International keyboard, but on the TextBlade I am actually using a Colemak based layout with customisations added to support both my typing style, and the apps I most frequently use.

The fact that the host systems will still work fine with a standard UK keyboard is convenient for those who do not have a TextBlade of their own, while I get the advantage of all my customisations when working with those same systems.

1 Like

I take a lot of notes and was for a while using the iPad Pro as my note machine. I now tend to use the TB with my iPhone 6S+.
This means I always have a reasonable sized screen with a full keyboard wherever I go. They both just slip into my pocket and job done.
Need to make some notes? I can set up on a really small footprint (see post from the other week showing usage on seatback table).
With more and more apps having full keyboard support due to Universal apps then the keyboard really adds power to the application.
Editorial and iThoughts are 2 of my go to applications. I can now block out a mind map or whole blocks of paragraphs pretty much anywhere.
When I got the iPad Pro, I pretty much ‘downsized’ from carrying a Mac and a PC all the time and remote into them through the Pro.
With the TB I can even leave the Pro at home a lot of the time and still know that I can do productive work if/when I want to…



What about putting the TextBlade on top of an onscreen keyboard on iPad (not using TextBlade extension), while using it in the lap?

With all the shield layers, TextBlade should not interfere with the onsceen keys, I guess?
Could any of the TREGers test how that works on iPad, and if it could be comfortable in a pinch?

(Picture taken while connected and working with Apple BT keyboard. On-screen keyboard is Tempest, but standard iOS is also fine.)

(Typed on my Colemak PaperBlade :wink: )

1 Like

I just did a quick test and it seems like it could work. On problem could where the typing shows up. For example you are typing a new note in the Notes app and have the textblade at the bottom you’ll be fine until your typing gets near the bottom of the screen. Then you’d probably need to type a bunch of Returns to push stuff up and then reposition the cursor.


Replies on this forum open a typing window at the bottom so I guess you’d have to slide the TextBlade up.

It’s possible to have the on screen keyboard in place when using the TB (briefly press j, k, l, ’ at the same time) so that would push up the bottom boundary of the app area. In that scenario you’ve no worse off screen space wise than using an on-screen keyboard.


I forgot about that!

1 Like

I have found that the UAG (Urban Armor Gear) iPad case would be an excellent candidate to combine these. That is what I plan on using. You can fold out the iPad and use the screen cover as the “platform” to set up the TB and type away.

1 Like

Yes, that was exactly my point. Thanks for clarifying :smile:

Only thought of this as a solution when having no access to a table, and then using TextBlad in the lap on top of an iPad. Then no need to carry extra whiteboard, lapdesk or such.

The drawback is the flat viewing angle and less screen estate, but for plain writing or note taking, it might work well enough. What do you think?

1 Like

Just done a brief test, the TB keyboard extension doesn’t take up enough screen space, but the normal on screen keyboard does. The iPad (and iPhone) remove the onscreen keyboard regardless if which your using if they discover a HW keyboard, but the TB key combination of j, k, l, ’ brings up the on screen keyboard regardless of the actual one in use.

I think you’d need something to stop the iPad sliding off your legs / knee, though the Apple cover should do that in most cases.

Also you’ll need to put it in screen lock, being a bit vertically challenged (i.e. short) I usually end up sitting with my knees slightly lower than my hips, and in that position the iPad invariably did it’s screen rotation thing so the screen was upside down.


Thanks a lot for testing this. I have the same experience with screen turning upside down while on the lap, and have to switch on the screen lock.

There is a trick with regards to TextBlade on-screen extension:

  1. Switch to iOS native keyboard
  2. Undock keyboard (long press keyboard button, bottom right)
  3. Switch back to TextBlade extension.

Now the extension is floating, and room for TextBlade. But only works in some apps – other apps displays text both above and below :frowning:

Future enhancement for the TextBlade extension, could be a second mode, expanded upwards to make room for a TextBlade resting on top of screen (only for tablets, of course), so not having to switch to native iOS keyboard.

Not now @waytools, but in app version 2.0 …

So I haven’t really gone on a trip yet since I got the TextBlade, but I do short train commutes. Two things have surprised me, compared to what I predicted would be my use cases:

  1. I use the TB mainly with my MacBook Air (often closed and connected to an external monitor).
  2. I haven’t been tempted to leave the Mac behind at work and just connect remotely using ssh/VNC when necessary.

My main iOS device is an iPhone 6. We do have an iPad Air at home, but that really belongs to my wife.

I carry the TB about 98% of the time when I’m out and about, walking, running errands, etc. I have found that it’s pretty easy to find a flat surface when necessary to bang out an email or an extended set of text messages. The exceptions are when standing in line, or on a crowded train with limited table-seats. In those cases, I revert to shorter messages tapped from the screen. It’s possible to employ a book or closed laptop or something to use the TB on your lap, but the awkwardness would be embarrassing, and my iPhone might drop, so I haven’t tried this maneuver.

I used to carry my Apple Bluetooth keyboard on trips, but I’ve stopped using it even at work, in favor of the TB.

—typed on TextBlade on Mac—


Instead of this, since I don’t think it’s something WayTools should really handle, have you thought about getting a keyboard such as Nintype? IIRC, you can go into its settings and change the height essentially pixel by pixel.

Since it doesn’t matter what keyboard is under it, you could grab that one and adjust it to exactly the height that you want. Then all the apps would adjust their views to account for only that much space.

1 Like

One of the many jobs that I do is repairing airline self-checkin kiosks. For this I need to have a USB (not bluetooth) keyboard in my toolkit.

My company is just a sub-sub-sub contractor to the airline, and we don’t get any special allowances when flying. They’re also really strict with carry-on baggage weight restriction. Having the TextBlade (plus dongle) in my toolkit is a lot smaller and lighter than a USB keyboard and means that there’s more room for more other tools.


I’ll be thinking of you next time I crash an airline kiosk for fun :smile:

For myself its not so much portability as it is customization. My work requires me to connect to esoteric system that require terminal access, shift function keys, and other idiotic keystrokes. My problem isn’t so much a keyboard, but a keyboard that can do what I need it to do. Most BT keyboards are about portability so they tend to remove keys to accomplish that. I usually end up having to choose which ‘thing’ I need the most, shift funcktion keys, arrow keys because this idioitc menu system doesn’t accept tabs, keyboard that dont have tab keys for auto completion because who needs that for 500 character long directory paths right, or something else. I’m always making those compromises.

But iOS has customizable keyboards? Yeah right. “Customization” seems to mean ‘what skin can you throw over the standard keyboard’ not actual customization.

“In theory” I shouldn’t have to do that with the Waytools keyboard. So I’m looking forward to what I can do with it