For some reason, my brain added two weeks to the time that I've had the TextBlade. I've corrected references to the amount of time I've used the TextBlade.
It’s been almost two months since my first post about my experience with the TextBlade. At the time, I was still continuously conscious of finally having a TextBlade. I feel like enough time has passed for me write another assessment of my experience. Some things to note: I do not have the latest hardware, but I think it’s on the recent end of the spectrum. I do have the most recent firmware version. It has not changed since I got the TextBlade, so I’m still at my baseline with regards to evaluating firmware improvements. I don’t know when the new code fork will be released to TREG, but I do know that TREG users are still actively testing the current firmware and are dedicated to making the TextBlade the best it can be.
My 2+ month impression of the TextBlade
The TextBlade has become as mundane as it can be (it’s still a freaking TextBlade). The TextBlade is the only keyboard I use, not because I wanted to push myself to master it, but because it is superior to every other keyboard I have used. If I have a choice, a regular keyboard will never take up space on my desk again.
The TextBlade is light yet it doesn’t slide all over the desk, due to its rubber backing. During my call with Mark on the day I received the TextBlade, he told me that it exhibited van der Waals force on certain surfaces. Given the nature of the backing, you would think that it would collect a lot of hair and lint, but this has not been the case. Maybe that’s because I don’t keep it in my pants pocket. After nearly three months of continuous daily use, the TextBlade has held up. The rubber backing has not delaminated at all, even though it slides in and out of the nano stand several times a day. Mark recommended putting the TextBlade in the nano stand with the space blade against the short side of the stand. I was concerned about the extra surface area of the other side of the stand putting more wear on the rubber backing of the key blade but I have not seen any indication that this is affecting the backing. Mark did mention that the backing is actually recessed into the key blades, though it’s difficult to know this from a cursory visual examination. This is yet another example of the precise engineering that WayTools has implemented in the TextBlade. With the keyblades being just a few millimeters thick at the thinnest points, I continue to be amazed that the TextBlade not only exists, but endures throughout continued use. This thing is a miracle.
I believe other people have covered the topic of how smooth and steady key travel on the TextBlade is, so I won’t elaborate on that, but I will reaffirm it.
The green ink on the homing keys (F and J) is starting to show some wear. There have been at least a dozen reformulations of the ink and/or application process since the unit I received was made, so I’m not concerned at all about the final product. And by now, I don’t even look at the legends on the caps, so even blank caps would be fine. Once the product’s life cycle matures, I hope WayTools offers caps that have no legends, just a single uninterrupted piece of art (van Gogh, Giger, graffiti, whatever) printed on them.
The TextBlade does not handle liquid well but it does recover well. The first time this happened, I thought I discovered a reportable problem. The TextBlade was behaving erratically. I had spilled a couple drops of water on the TextBlade and didn’t realize it until I examined the unit. I used the edge of a tissue to wick the water out from between the caps, and then I tapped the TextBlade against my hand to clear out any remaining liquid. Problem solved. This happened again a few weeks later when I coughed while drinking some broth. I couldn’t even see anything between the key caps but there were a few fine droplets on top of the key caps, so I tapped the TextBlade against my hand to clear out any liquid and the TextBlade was immediately back to full functionality.
The TextBlade is still amazing. There are certain transposition errors that I am prone to making, but I make them less frequently on the TextBlade than I did on traditional keyboards. I still have a tendency to try to use the number row to type symbols – muscle memory from traditional keyboards. I have only just recently modified the key boundary between the enter key and the backspace key. I have avoided modifying boundaries until now because I wanted to evaluate the TextBlade’s stock configuration and I didn’t want to allow my typing style to get sloppy. Shrinking the backspace button boundary is the only change I think I will need to make, but having the option to change key boundaries is a great concession to the needs of different physiologies and a feature that no other keyboard can boast.
I am still discovering how robust the TextBlade feature set is. Media keys are not something I normally use. I didn’t even have them on my previous programmable keyboard. But it’s cool to be able to control the volume of my headset without taking my hands off home row. I used to have a dedicated number pad. The TextBlade’s number pad was a feature that I thought I wouldn’t use because of the TextBlade’s layout, but it turns out that the number pad layer on the TextBlade is great. I’m still working on incorporating more features into my routine. Full screen shots or active window captures, document navigation, application switching, and more are all available without having to more your hands. The TextBlade even has chords for paragraph navigation and find next/find previous functions. I’ve programmed some of the complicated mod key chords to the function layer, so they’re just as accessible as other functions. And I’ve only scratched the surface with macros.
Effectively coding on portable devices is viable with the TextBlade. Textastic for the iPad is a nice code editor (thanks for the recommendation, colinng). I like being able to transfer files from the code editor itself, without having to use a separate ftp application. DroidEdit on Android isn’t a bad code editor, though I haven’t used it as much as I’ve used Textastic. On a regular computer, I’ve found that coding CSS is a good way to practice switching between letters, symbols, and numbers on the TextBlade, and is kind of mentally therapeutic.
I was surprised when I discovered that I could jump from my computer to my phone (this works with the iPad too), wake the phone, navigate across app icons, launch an application, open a document, edit the document, and save the document, all without taking my hands off the TextBlade. I will probably never buy another keyboard that isn’t made by WayTools. But, I might have to buy a gaming pad for first person games. I haven’t had the time to see if the TextBlade can be configured with a serviceable key map for first person games and it may be several more months before I even have time to play games. Maybe a future revision that has dedicated modifier keys could allow the TextBlade to replace keyboards for gaming, as well.
The TextBlade’s development has taken a lot longer than anyone would have liked and, like everyone else, I’ve been skeptical at times. But having experienced what the TextBlade can do and how it continues to perform, I know WayTools can reach the finish line. Let’s get to GR. I want to see the amazing things that are yet to come.