Wear and Tear After a Year - Hermes

Okay, it has been a bit more than two years (Two?! I thought it was only one and a bit but I guess I was wrong…) since I got my hands on TextBlade, and actually, I think I’ve had this particular one for less than that because I managed to break one and had to send it in to WayTools for another.
Anyway, thought I would share some pictures about how this thing fares. I actually kept quiet for a while, not wanting to delay general release any further. I realized though that WayTools is going to ship when they think it’s ready, and us TREG folk don’t really influence that either way. I still feel obligated to say: WayTools, ship the version one. Any fixes still in the pipeline, you can move into the TextBlade Cooler-Name-Than-Just-2. I am getting so tired of having people come up to me and go “Oh my gosh that’s such a cool keyboard!” That part is fine actually, but it’s the next part where they ask “where do I get one?” and I have to tell them the website but also mention that it’s not general release yet–that is getting very, very tiring. The world is aching for something better to type on. Give it to them already

As a sort of disclaimer, I will say that I put this thing through a lot. It has been with me through two National Novel Writing Months, blasting through more than 550,000 words just in those two months (Not counting emails, instant messaging, classwork, and so forth in that time!). I carry TextBlade with me every day, everywhere I go, and given a spare minute I’ll pull it out and start writing. The power to do that is awesome and I love it, and it also makes for a pretty good real-world stress test for TextBlade, or any other bit of technology that comes in contact with me.

So, with that said, let’s start looking at some pictures of my TextBlade; I apologize that some of them came out blurry, I was doing the best I could while fighting a lack of nice studio lighting, and also a phone camera that didn’t always want to cooperate.


These first two show the rubber foot pads; the keyblades have a bit of lint around their edges, a bit of gunk, a bit of the inner workings (green) showing where the rubber has slid out of the way just a little. The spaceblade, though, looks hideous–those two smaller feet slide around and get gunk on the outer surface, which then attracts all manner of grunge and just ends up looking icky.




Moving on, we get to the key tops and wear patterns there, which make it abundantly clear that I’m a Colemak typist–everything on home row is severely faded or outright gone. Hard to really show that in the pics–the green ink just doesn’t show at all, even where it’s still there, and so I played around with lighting and angles to try and get it just right so you can really see. For clarity, I’m going to explain the state of each key, working the left key blade top left to bottom right, then right keyblade same thing. Letters given are based on the QWERTY labels.
Top row: Silver is fine, green slightly faded but all still visible.
Home row: Home, part faded but all visible. A-D, worn blank except for a few tenacious bits of green. F, silver and green is faded but fully visible. G, silver is fine, green is slightly faded.
Bottom row: shift is almost gone. Z silver is faded but visible, green is heavily faded but visible. X-V, silver is fine, green is faded pretty heavily. B, silver is fine, green is faded.
Right blade, Top: Y, silver is fine, green faded but visible. U-P, silver is fine, green is slightly faded. Backspace, faded but fully visible
Right home row: H, silver is fine, green is faded but fully visible. J, silver is faded fully visible, green is gone. K-’ is gone like blank keycaps (I had to look up pics of a standard layout TextBlade to remember what those qwerty labels even ARE, since I think of it in Colemak). Enter is faded, fully visible
Right bottom row: N, silver is fine, green slightly faded. M, Silver is faded, fully visible, green is gone. ,-/ silver fine, green is faded. Right shift is slightly faded.
For the cutouts, media is fine, select is slightly faded, edit is faded. Cut, copy, paste, all faded and a little gunky. All the arrows and undo/redo are faded and gunked.

So that’s all mostly cosmetic damage. I don’t need the inks on my keys at this point unless I’m showing it off to someone else. But the TextBlade has also shown a bit of functional wear, as follows:




Hard to see, but the bottom keyblade in these pics has completely lost its shiny coating on the large magnet.

This charging connector is gross with rust, metal flakes, and other grunge. I tried cleaning it with a toothpick but had limited success.

The charging contacts and other connectors are showing corrosion, gunking, and places where the shiny metal coating has flaked off the magnets. This makes it harder to get the charger connected, because it has to touch both of those remaining silver bits to start charging; I think the chipped blade-to-blade connections are starting to give me weird repeat characters, too intermittent for me to replicate in a log, but sometimes I’ll be blazing along through a story and I’ll get twenty E’s in a row or something like that. I’ve also seen the occasional problem where I’ll put this thing together and get the error saying one of the blades isn’t connected, usually quick fixed by disassembly, cleaning the contacts with a fingertip, and putting the TextBlade back together.



This gives a closer look at the nanocharger and slot; note the green tinged corrosion on the charger, and the small plastic piece that broke off from under the nanocharger slot, along the bottom front edge. That’s the result of an accidental drop test onto hard linoleum flooring at work; the TextBlade landed on its corner. The SpaceBlade partly popped off its hinges, but that was easy to put back in place. The thin plastic piece that took the full impact though, cracked at one end and eventually broke off.

Finally, we get back to those rubber pads on the keyblades:



This shows how, on both keyblades, I can flip the rubber back and expose the inner workings. The adhesive isn’t sticky enough to hold anymore, although it is a lint magnet as you can see from the black smear in the upper picture. (The green band isn’t corrosion here, at least I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to look like that, just, y’know, hidden under the rubber)
That’s not the furthest back the rubber pulls either

This is how the TextBlade came out of my pants pocket one night at work when I pulled it out during my break. My pocket was a little sticky, and it took me about a minute to coax this back into place, pushing, stretching, and sliding it back onto the keyblade.

But why, you ask, don’t I just protect it with a nanostand? Wouldn’t that also protect the contacts from some of the wear and tear, and keep the rubber from sliding as much?
It probably would! But the rubber is so loose that I can’t push the TextBlade stack into the stand without dislodging the rubber into a snarled, sticky mess. Pushing it in and pulling it out of there seems to have contributed to the degradation of the adhesive in the first place. So, I haven’t been using my nanostands lately. Revision for the TextBlade Cooler Than 2: a way to open up the nanostand and clamp it on, rather than having to slide it on and off. Also for the TB 2Cool: Nanostands that fit a wider range of devices; not all of us have some skinny Apple thing, sans case. My current pocket computer is a thick slab of aluminum and glass and case, feels like a nice reassuring brick. Very much doesn’t fit even in an XL nanostand, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a phone that did.

Anyway, that’s my report on the wear and tear I’ve piled on my TextBlade; the glue seems like a quick fix (superglue instead of whatever this always-wet adhesive goo is), I think the magnets and flakiness were already fixed in a later hardware revision than the one I have, and the inks were revised as well if I remember correctly. That means that for all the mess I’ve made of this thing, hard on tech as I am, there aren’t any gating issues. Ship it to the masses, they’re waiting!
Seriously, everywhere I go this thing gets loads of attention, I’ve had my writing interrupted when I’m out and about because so many people want to crowd around and talk about what the magical tiny keyboard under my hands is. Once it ships, it will catch on everywhere like notches at the top of phone screens only people will actually want TextBlade rather than putting up with it for sake of a squit more screen estate. But if it’s always “being perfected”, then someone else will hit on the idea for a perfect input device, run it through KickStarter, and ship a mediocre version 1 and a better version 2 before most of the world ever hears about TextBlade. I don’t want that to happen–I want TextBlade in every pocket, I want every pair of hands to fly across keys like this, I want everyone to be able to blaze through a novel in a month and go “wrist pain? What wrist pain?”

And that is something that I think can only truly be achieved by TextBlade shipping.

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Wow! :+1:t3: Awesome long term use review Hermes, thanks!

Half a million words in two months puts you right up there with our QA test bots for accelerated wear.

You must have written millions of words, or tens of millions of characters so far, so this is a fantastic extreme use case test.

The NanoStand fit issues we think we’ve got figured out now, and we have improved the ink and curing/hardening tech. So the root cause of your rubber foot delamination should be settled now. But the fact that it remained operational even with the foot detached is encouraging.

We also have a new custom fit service now, where if you tell us your phone+case thickness, we’ll mill it to your spec for a perfect fit.

We also have replacement pads now for any rubber feet that were damaged, so we can send you a set to refresh those.

Photos were amazing. Thanks Hermes!

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Very interesting. I don’t think any of my TextBlades I’ve tested got to be two years old, even though I’ve been in Treg for 2 years 9 months. Even if an older one I was allowed to keep when sent a new one (always handy to have a spare in case something happens or, if the new design shows a problem, I can check it out on the old one), I wouldn’t normally be regularly using the old one so it wouldn’t get the normal wear and tear for the full time.

Like right now I carry a TB in my pocket every day. But it’s not my newest one. I’ve only actually used it on rare occasions since the vast majority of my work is at home.

Anyway, I’ve never experienced the wear and tear you show in the pictures. No doubt partly because mostly it just stays in one place, at home. And while I type a lot, it certainly isn’t as much as you. Every TB I’ve had, looking at connectors, rubber covering, etc, shows very little wear. The only exception is the letters - especially green characters - on the keys. But none of us have gotten the latest paint versions so that doesn’t mean much.

In some ways, the green paint could be considered more important to have last a longer time. After all, if you type regularly, the letters you access so much more tend to be learned by feel. But many of those green characters are used so much less that more people may find a need to look for certain ones.

Posts like this tempt me to upgrade my order to the 6-pack. I may do it, but not until GR becomes definite. However, a couple months ago, another TREG user posted that they had upgraded their order to four units. This made me wonder why they didn’t spend the extra $100 to get 2 more units. Based on your experience with the product, would you buy the 6-pack if you had the disposable income to spend on it? I ordered 2 units so that I would have a backup unit, and I’m not sure anyone else in my household would be interested in the TextBlade as anything more than a novelty so that may be all I need. But the 6-pack price is still tempting, especially since I can get a unit with QWERTY caps for anyone who wants to try the TextBlade and is not cultured enough to use a more enlightened layout (yeah, I went there).

I don’t know how the current battery tech stands, but as I recall, it used to be that it wasn’t recommended to buy a “spare” battery for a laptop (assuming it wasn’t for changing on a regular basis because you were often away from charging sources for extended periods). That is, if you bought it so when your original one died out, you’d probably find the spare one you bought at the same time wouldn’t last long because they lost capability over time, just sitting on the shelf for a couple years.

Maybe WT will elaborate on this, but if it still applies and you are only getting a 6-pack so you can just move to a new TB you already bought when one starts to fail (which may just be the battery), you may have a battery problem with the next one that’s been sitting around and would have been better off getting a new one later on.

Having said that, I fully intend to have 2 for my own use. One always sitting at home and the other always in my travel stuff. Thus I won’t walk off and forget to bring pack it and, yes, it will serve as a backup in a pinch.

But 6? I’d only do that if I intended to give some away as gifts (which I’m thinking about doing).

I think TextBlade is one of the nicest gifts you can give. If you get a 6 pack and keep 2 for yourself, you’ll have 4 very happy relatives/friends/colleagues/mentors. If you’ve got many friends and want to maximize happiness, pick anyone who has RSI, or types a lot, and certainly any authors, software devs, students, engineers, etc.

I think having a keyboard that only lasts 2 years would be a concern. However, knowing it is an earlier version and many enhancements have been made, it starts to look a little better. On top of that, knowing how much use that keyboard took probably equates to more like 5 years of use for the normal typist.

With that in mind, I don’t mind paying $99 every 3-5 years for a newer, fresher keyboard.

Nice design, Waytools! Can’t wait to get mine!

For a 100 bucks, I don’t see a 2 year lifespan on a heavy use mobile input device as a deal breaker, tbh. You can spend that on iPhone cases easy, and they often do absolutely nothing they are designed to do.

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Wow! Those pictures look like well-used industrial equipment. It looks like you’ve done 10 years of normal user wear. Looks like a tool that I could use in real life and it would hold up. Thanks for posting that, @Hermes!

Good point. My point was simply that only 2 years could potentially be a concern for certain people and maybe not a great price. However, considering what the keyboard will offer and the fact that the use was pretty brutal, it looks to me like a good deal.

An obvious question would be how well do other, relatively small, portable keyboards hold up with this amount of heavy use?

As I said, none of mine show anything close to the wear on the rubber and the connectors that his do. At most you might look at mine and say you can tell those things aren’t new, but you wouldn’t look at them and say, “Gee, that’s pretty worn”.

@uniquenospacesshort, I’ve been tempted to upgrade to the multipack; at the moment, however, I don’t have the spare disposable income to jump on $500 of tech, especially since, 1, I don’t know when those lovely techy gifts would arrive and 2, a weirdly high number of my close friends and family say they wouldn’t want a TextBlade or don’t think they could ever get used to it–this includes the high-output writers and tech adept folks that would really benefit from having a TextBlade under their hands. I’ve had a lot of interest expressed by random passersby, but not a lot of interest from folks I actually know and would want to give gifts to.
Point 3 for why I’m not 100% jumping on the multipack right now, and this would be something @Waytools would need to clarify: if I get a multipack and give away the other blades (probably with qwerty caps, le sigh), would the Early Adopter guarantee mean that each of those six textblades had MultiMap associated to their serial number? Or would my friends/family/other gift recipients all have to either shell out $19 for their copy of MultiMap or ask me for help configuring their cutting edge typing tech?

@Corwinjr @IPdude, I would say that I’ve put in more like 5 years of wear on this thing. Q-bots may be able to bang away on the keys faster, but they also are mechanically precise, not snapping their blades apart and together a bunch, not carrying them around in a pocket or rattling around in a bag with other gear, and perhaps most importantly, the bots don’t have sweaty fingers (Not to my knowledge, anyway–if @waytools put in that extra bit of authenticity for their testing, I fully commend their attention to detail).
I take my blades apart for transport and snap them back together again multiple times a day. I mosh my fingers on these keys and brush my fingers over the tops just to feel those key wells because they’re so satisfying. And, I sweat, kind of a lot actually. Something about my particularly weird biochemistry means that my sweat is nasty enough to rust the stainless steel back of my watch and also plate it with what looks like copper oxide. Don’t ask how, I don’t know and for that matter, don’t want to know what’s really going on there.

For most people, I think that TextBlade will definitely hold up a good long time and look pretty much perfect. Even for me and the devastating amount of usage I put in, the function is still good, it just looks like it’s been through keyboard hell and back.

@dabigkahuna, I have used, abused, and destroyed my share of other portable keyboards.

  1. My first folding keyboard (Something like This One ) took one fall off my lap while I was sitting at a bus stop and the hinge cracked. Within two weeks, half my vowels and several of the most frequent consonants weren’t working consistently, and I had to abandon that keyboard to the junkpile.
  2. The keyboard cover for my old 7" android tablet was with me for a year-ish and the USB cable was fraying, the Micro-USB plug so worn down it wouldn’t stick in the tablet, and about 10 of the keys, including arrow keys and similar, don’t want to spring back up when pressed down because I wore out the rubber dome springs or snapped the tiny plastic scissor levers under the keys.
  3. My MoKo folding keyboard was spared destruction after just a few months when my TextBlade arrived, and I have since passed the MoKo along to a friend who needed a mobile keyboard for her tablet (would that I could have given her a TextBlade right then! Alas.) Even after only being under my hands for two or three months, one of which was NaNoWriMo (I put in only 138,000 that year, as compared to the 340k my first novel writing month with TextBlade), the MoKo keyboard showed wear patterns along the home row keys and spacebar, spots where the slightly textured plastic had worn just a little smoother under my fast flying fingers.
    4, the keyboard cover for my Jide Remix UltraTablet was similarly smoothed and abused after a year or two before I sold it off secondhand, though I think all they keys were still fully functional. The felt-covered trackpad looked heavily worn and faded, worn almost to bare plastic in some places.

Compare all the above to TextBlade.
-Accidental drop tests, onto concrete or similar hard ground, with the current TextBlade: ~6. At least 2 from chest height rather than waist height or while seated.
-Time invested: 2 years and counting
-Used more frequently because I use it on all my devices, all the time, rather than switching around and spreading out the devastation among multiple keyboards, and also because TextBlade is easier to use for things that I would normally reach for a mouse to do. (alt-tab, select and edit, arrow keys, ctrl-tab, Etc)
-Keys that have lost functionality, such as refusing to spring back up or register a keypress: 0
-Keys that have substantially different, less pleasant feel (squidgy, loose, anything like that): 0 (The worn smooth patches on the home row don’t really make it feel worse, just smooth :wink: )
-Keys that have popped off as the result of accidental drop tests: ~8 (sometimes more than one per drop, sometimes none) That couldn’t be easily snapped back on and continue working: 0 Times that it was really cool to see the butterflies that make so much of this thing work: 10/10 :wink: Every time I fumble my TextBlade and a key or two pops off (I swear it’s an accident!), I take it as a chance to make sure everything is clean in there, and then admire how my TextBlade is put together and all the nifty little widgets that go into making it work so well.
Now, granted, Textblade cost more than those other portable keyboards combined (not counting the Remix keyboard that came with a $300 tablet), but it’s also held up a lot better, does a HELL of a lot more, and is a joy for my fingers rather than a crude necessity to get text into my phone or other mobile device. Three TextBlades would still I think be smaller and lighter than any of the above keyboards. I think that’s a pretty good testament to how well TextBlade holds up under strain, and the sort of quality hardware it is.

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This is a good point that I’ve considered many times. I have people I’d buy them for, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they simply wouldn’t take the time to adjust to it. Not even a couple hours. I could be wrong, but I don’t want to spend $100 on a gift without knowing the person will use it!

That’s a good point too. As a band director, I’ve seen most instruments hold up well. But there will be some kids whose skin chemistry just eats up the metal! But my first instrument, which was the only one used from 1959-1968 and again from 1972-74 only looked like normal wear and tear rather than the ugly stuff some student’s chemistry can do in a single year.

I suspect most, if not all, other mobile keyboards don’t hold up well. They do have one advantage and that is that they probably are ONLY used in a mobile situation, which means they usually don’t get used a lot. But a TB is probably going to be used for everything with most people. If, like me, they get two so one just stays at home, then both would probably last a lot longer. The home one not being moved around and only having the space blade disconnected when it needs charging. And the one used for travel simply not being used as much. But if, like you, they are using it for everything, that’s going to be more stressful than the typical mobile only keyboard.

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Those photos are hard to look at, @hermes. Good to see that TextBlade is holding up to so much hard work though. Based on your throughput, I should have many years of happy typing ahead of me with one TextBlade.

I’m curious - is there anything a user can do to fix those worn connectors?

Great post! I especially like the idea of authentic testing. Why not have the Q-bots munch crackers over the keyboard, pour some soda on it, and then fall asleep with a forehead crunch on top of the keyboard! The YouTube videos would go viral.

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Hey @Corwinjr what are you trying to do, put @hermes out of a job?

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I can’t wait to get the GR or be a TREG so I can get started adapting to the TB. However, the longer term use case for 2 years on the older version is promising knowing the newer version have made improvements on it. Yet it’s also sad knowing some have been on TREG for more than two years yet some of us still yet to get our hands on a TB or see it live.

Seeing the smudges on the TB, I want to know how effective it is to clean it with alcohol pads or damped towels.

It would be good if someone put TB through the test like the iphones, such as putting it through a wash cycle or have it dipped in water x meters deep for x minutes, etc to see if it would still work. Since TB is so portable, it is possible for us to put it through the laundry and or get wet in the rain.

No matter the amount of use I’m really worried about the extremely bad condition of that keyboard. It’s only two years old (half the waiting time, by the way). I have keyboards with heavy use along much more time in much better condition. Especially the condition of the contacts (a specific design problem) seems to be particularly worrying. I´d like to know if anything has been done to correct it.

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Oh! You took your TB to a third world country! Overwhelming! That is really risky! Isn´t it?
Not really! I can tell you because I live in a third world country. Where I intend to use the keyboard.
Besides, we don´t use to swim with the Iphone in our pockets, even here, in a third world country.

I don´t understand your answer. It does not provide any information about my specific question.
I am only talking about the photos posted above. They show a really damaged device,
and in a sophisticated technology as textblade is supposed to be it could be dangerous. Therefore I asked a simple question, in case anyone knows the ansewer: ¿has anything been improved in order to prevent the quick obsolescence of critical aspects such as those shown in the photos?