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An iPad Keyboard You Can Type On and Swipe Through

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the better-mousetrap-of-silicone dept.

Input Devices 93

TechCrunch features an article (the first of three, actually) outlining the development of a clever hardware keyboard for the iPad. It's hard to write about Kickstarter projects, because there are so many cool ideas that seem to deserve funding it's simply overwhelming. The TouchFire keyboard is one of those cool ideas, too, but it's far surpassed the founders' original funding goals and is nearing production. The TouchFire isn't wired, but it isn't wireless, either, in the conventional sense, because it provides no signal of its own: it's a transparent overlay that provides a tactile interface to the iPad's on-screen keyboard, and — the tricky part — is thin enough to actually swipe through when you're not using it for text-entry. The keyboard takes advantage of the iPad 2's built-in magnets for stability, though it works with the original iPad, too. (Hopefully an Android version will come soon, but the variety of screen resolutions and on-screen keyboard shapes makes that harder.) I talked with co-creator Steve Isaac (it's his account at TechCrunch, too) a few weeks back, and he said that the hardest part of the development work has been producing the complex mold shapes that form each collapsible key. The resulting tablet-with-keyboard reminds me superficially, and pleasantly, of the TRS-80 Model 100. (The Tandy actually had much better battery life than an iPad, but could do far less. It also weighed 3.1 pounds and cost more than a thousand dollars in 1983, which means nearly $2400 today; such is progress.) Prototypes are tight (and I don't have an iPad), but I hope to give an in-person report on the TouchFire soon.

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Radio (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38280636)

I had a transistor radio that had much better battery life than the iPad.

It was able to do much less yeah, but you'd think for $500 the iPad would beat a $5 radio.

Re:Radio (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38280730)

I had a transistor radio that had much better battery life than the iPad.

It was able to do much less yeah, but you'd think for $500 the iPad would beat a $5 radio.

Of course, your transistor radio had around 6 transistors and the iPad has millions of times more than that.

Re:Radio (1)

Adaeniel (1315637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281150)

You should have used a car analogy: I'm sure the original poster has a vehicle that is more fuel efficient than construction equipment; therefore, construction equipment is useless.

HEY YOU IDIOT TIMOTHY (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38282060)

Yeah, I knew that it was YOU who submitted this article. You want to know why? Excessive use of parenthetical asides and abuse of semicolons.
 
Timothy, please just go jump in a volcano. Whether it's the sulfur dioxide or lava that gets you, you'll be in a better place.
 
--drinkypoo

Re:Radio (1, Troll)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38280734)

My $500 iPad's battery outlasts that of my friend's $90,000 Mercedes.

I can make pointless comments too!

Re:Radio (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281564)

My $500 iPad's battery outlasts that of my friend's $90,000 Mercedes.

Your iPad battery can't start your friend's Mercedes.

Re:Radio (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282100)

But I bet a hundred could. And that's only $50,000!

Re:Radio (2)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38283116)

Also the Mercedes won't get you laid like and iPad... oh wait... Maybe a hundred would. Well I can't use a Mercedes to order chinese food online!

Re:Radio (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319782)

But I bet a hundred could. And that's only $50,000!

Touché.

Does this dictate what the people want? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38280672)

I know tablets are popular, but I don't have one yet because I type faster on real keyboards.

Re:Does this dictate what the people want? (2, Insightful)

Ramin_HAL9001 (1677134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38287600)

I know tablets are popular, but I don't have one yet because I type faster on real keyboards.

What sucks even more is that back in 2009, it looked like Netbooks were going to take over. 2 years later, almost all Netbooks are exactly the same as they were back then. No innovation, no competition. The Netbook market died with the introduction of the iPad, even though netbooks are clearly more useful portable computers for people who need to type.

Now we are stuck with these stupid pad computers and these stupid silicone rubber hacks to substitute a keyboard, and we have to download all of our software from some walled garden.

Give me a netbook with a fucking keyboard, and let me install my own fucking software. Fuck the iPad.

Re:Does this dictate what the people want? (1)

Bitsy Boffin (110334) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289034)

2 years later, almost all Netbooks are exactly the same as they were back then.

Couldn't it simply be, that netbooks already do the job people want them to do, so the don't need to change?

What would you change about your netbook exactly, and why?

Re:Does this dictate what the people want? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38363818)

Personally, I would want a faster processor, higher resolution screen (but not physically bigger), better GPU, more RAM, and more SSD storage, a touchscreen would be nice too. But actually, netbooks have improved since I bought mine, particularly since AMD released a netbook processor/GPU, so I could have that if I wanted to pay for it.

But for now I'm going to mod my 8.9" Aspire One a bit, Unfortunately I can't add more RAM (I've already maxed it at 1.5GB) or upgrade the CPU or GPU, but I'm going to mod it so I can replace the crappy slow 8GB that uses an uncommon ZIF IDE connector with a fast 32GB SATA SSD, and add a touchscreen, get a 6-cell battery (I have a 9-cell, but its a bit big and the 3-cell doesn't last long enough), and maybe add a hack in a USB bluetooth and a FM-transmitter internally. And I'll see how much life I can get out of it. I probably would buy a new better one if I didn't want a Galaxy Note more (for something that is truly portable and has a nice screen).

Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38280680)

Good idea, but I wonder if this button design provides a enough tacticle feedback.

Re:Neat (0)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282368)

I had one of those rollup keyboards for the novelty of it. It sucked.

This looks to be... (3, Interesting)

gweilo8888 (921799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38280682)

...an inelegant solution to a problem that doesn't exist. I can already type very fast on my on-screen keyboard without the need for silly tactile gadgets, and haptic feedback exists for the folks who aren't able to do so.

I just don't see the need for a device that covers half the screen, making it hard to see or read what's beneath; I might as well leave the on-screen keyboard up all the time and lose half of my screen real-estate. Also I don't care what the article says, I do not believe that swipe entry will be as usable through this layer. Nor will it work if I rotate my screen.

your obscuring the keyboard on the display (3, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38280786)

and in between those uses its easy to move away. If it makes typing on my iPad easier then its worth it. The problem I faced was having a BT keyboard to make using the device for input easier.

Considering the size this is far better solution if it truly does mitigate the issue some have with typing. Yes, I am a "backer". I have bought a few items from the Kickstarter groups, more aimed towards whimsical than this.

Still haven't figured out if all those that do get funding actually pay themselves a decent rate for their hours. For some projects it really seems that they skip over that part.

Re:This looks to be... (2)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38280796)

Haptic feedback (vibrating) isn't the same as key punch and return.

Anecdotally, this keyboard isn't a solution for me anyway, as it is too similar to the Apple keyboards (more than likely by design). The separation between the keys is too much for me, as I find myself brushing the neighbouring keys when typing on keyboards to improve accuracy. I can't do this on newer Apple devices. I should probably learn to type properly, but this way seems to offer accuracy, speed, and comfort at reasonable levels.

Re:This looks to be... (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38283350)

I can see where you're coming from, I have similar issue, but my problem is more with fat fingers than anything else.

Re:This looks to be... (4, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281376)

I can already type very fast on my on-screen keyboard without the need for silly tactile gadgets, and haptic feedback exists for the folks who aren't able to do so.

I wonder how "very fast" you type and how that rates relative to others. Whether it be that you have superhuman abilities to type faster without this sort of capability or you deem your speed to be 'fast enough', either way there are portions of the population that do either do not have your ability or are not satisfied as easily.

For one, I need the tactile feedback because the feedback enables me to move with more confidence. Haptic feedback is little more than a gimmick, I need to feel the different keys. Also, I let my unused fingers largely rest on the keys. I can't touch-type on a touchscreen because my stray fingers are constantly triggering stray keypresses.

I'm still not crazy about this even if it works as designed. Changing between text entry and non-text entry become a bit more cumbersome and it's a switch I make constantly. Laptops continue to be my favored strategy for this and a number of reasons, but the problems they are trying to address are an issue for a lot of people.

Less intrusive alternative (2)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282762)

I don't think they even need the "entire keyboard repeated in physical form" at all. I imagine typists would only need a thin strip that flips onto the home row to give an initial grounding to the iPad's key spacing. You could probably get away with just flip-on "nipples" for the F and J keys.

Swiping (3, Insightful)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 2 years ago | (#38280714)

From FTS:

the tricky part â" is thin enough to actually swipe through when you're not using it for text-entry.

From TFA:

TouchFire is soft and supple if you swipe through it horizontally, so you can easily select the special characters on the keyboard.

I didn't read anything about swiping when you were not using the keyboard for text entry.

Re:Swiping (0)

thesh0ck (1983948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281212)

Inference. Its a skill.

Re:Swiping (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281440)

From the video, it looks like they are just saying the keyboard can slide around a bit, but you'd not want to do that for anything other than very light use. It looked pretty clumsy to get to those special keys when they showed someone typing...

OK (4, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38280722)

This is one of those add-ons that on the surface seems clever and useful, until you realize that it would be more of a hassle to use when you need it than if you didn't have it in the first place. Disregarding the fact that putting this on your iPad completely ruins the aesthetic (really? We want our iPad to look like a Tandy?), one would be pulling the keyboard on and off every minute or so. This annoyance is compounded by the fact that the iPad interface is not built around a physical keyboard. So you use this to write a simple email, then you have to rip it off when the screen changes.oh thats annoying. Crapgadget.

Re:OK (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38280890)

This is one of those add-ons that on the surface seems clever and useful, until you realize that it would be more of a hassle to use when you need it than if you didn't have it in the first place.... Crapgadget.

Since it is obvious that literally thousands of people are willing to commit real money --even far in excess of what was requested-- against your opinion, I can only conclude that you are one of two kinds of people:

1. Someone like Steve Jobs who can convince people that they really don't want or need something even thought their intuition or experience tells them otherwise.

2. Yet another /. naysayer who doesn't recognize a decent idea even when it's laid out in print, simply because you can't imagine a life outside of your own narrow experience.

 

Re:OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38282188)

The fact that lots of people are willing to put money down for a product is not an indication of its quality, usefulness, or anything else. All you have to do to realize that is look at the number of people willing to spend $20 on any stupid as-seen-on-tv product.

Re:OK (1)

davewoods (2450314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38303862)

I just checked the number of backers at each pay bracket:

$1-44 = 69
$45-79 = 1653
$80-199 = 681
$200-349 = 47
$350-999 = 12
$1000+ = 4
Soooo, yeah, I guess the people only giving $20 are stupid, and they do not indicate the quality of the product.

Buy a netbook (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38280764)

It amazes me how much crap people will tack on to justify buying a tablet. iPad 2 STARTS at $499, plus all these accessories, and what you've really built yourself is a shitty netbook at twice the price...

Re:Buy a netbook (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38280828)

I don't have one because I don't see the point. If I'm home I use the desktop which is more powerful, has better screen, better input and better software. If I'm out of home I use the notebook. If I want to check something quickly, smartphone. Tablets are too small to use at home and too big to be carried on your pocket. You get worse screen, less software and worse input methods for almost the same size as a much better netbook.
It could have some use to let it lying on the sofa to check some internet while watching TV I guess but that doesn’t justify that price tag. Tablets are mostly pointless and there are very few people that have real uses for them, I just wonder why everybody is trying to convince us that tablets are good. Marketing does work I guess.

Re:Buy a netbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38282926)

Let me help you to understand. Tablets are for playtime in the Butterfly Room. Netbooks are for _working_ while outside your office but offer easier portability than laptops. Useful work generally involves lots of text input.

Re:Buy a netbook (2)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286806)

I don't have one because I don't see the point. If I'm home I use the desktop which is more powerful, has better screen, better input and better software. If I'm out of home I use the notebook. If I want to check something quickly, smartphone. Tablets are too small to use at home and too big to be carried on your pocket. You get worse screen, less software and worse input methods for almost the same size as a much better netbook.
It could have some use to let it lying on the sofa to check some internet while watching TV I guess but that doesn’t justify that price tag. Tablets are mostly pointless and there are very few people that have real uses for them, I just wonder why everybody is trying to convince us that tablets are good. Marketing does work I guess.

I don't carry a laptop or netbook any more as the iPad is enough to get stuff done. Once you have a Dropbox enabled text editor, a few cron jobs and Jenkins to handle builds, you can do development on the shitter, or anywhere you can get cell reception. All my organizers are cloudy, too, so I can figure out what I want to do, glom together mockups in OmniGraffle, etc, on the iPad.

Re:Buy a netbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286944)

Yes, and I guess some people don't like the hassle of the laptop. I have a 13" laptop with an i-5 6G RAM and long battery life. If I'm at home, I have hdmi and vga output to plug to a TV (for watching online videos) or a monitor for productivity. On the road I have 4G, where 13" seems to be plenty, it's lightweight and I'm not limited to the "App Store" availability. But I guess some people like to have dedicated boxes for everything.

Re:Buy a netbook (4, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281100)

Ehhh, I am anti-Apple and do not have an ipad myself, but it's a fairly slick piece of hardware and I see plenty of people using it extensively in places they wouldn't use a netbook.

Tell you what - I'll race you. (3, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281206)

You and I will walk down the street. You have your netbook, I'll have an iPad. Then we'll time who can check their stocks and email, or pull up the local map for directions the quickest. Perhaps we'll watch some videos. Heck, perhaps we'll sit side by side on the couch instead of walking down the street. You can put the netbook on your lap and see how much fun that is.

Of course there's little or no hope of the netbook actually competing because it's not a mobile device. It's a stationary one that is light enough to carry from one fixed location to another, and there's a huge difference.

I swear you netbook-fixated iPad haters just don't have a clue what a tablet is about, and you're just so intent on not learning. It's the worst kind of ignorance - defiant and purposeful.

Since I bought my iPad my Asus netbook has languished on the shelf. The only time I use it is when I have to do extensive note-taking. I'm getting pretty good at using the iPad keyboard, so I just might sell the netbook.

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38281492)

You have your netbook, I'll have an iPad. Then we'll time who can check their stocks and email, or pull up the local map for directions the quickest. Perhaps we'll watch some videos

I'll race your enlarged iPod Touch with my Android Smartphone and afterwards I'll put it comfortably in my pocket.

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281968)

Hoa boy, that's a fun one.
Now we're doing dick-waving contests. You realize it's not the speed, it's the screen size, portability, and instant-start, all in one, right?

Your smart phone is missing one part of that equation.
(I can't believe I just had to say that, to an adult...I'm assuming)

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38282626)

You're waving your dick twice as hard as all the others. You might do yourself an injury, waving it so much.

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (1)

blind monkey 3 (773904) | more than 2 years ago | (#38283882)

I believe the screen size is the part that enables portablity. His suggestion is valid - especially considering how many people use their phone's browser to retrieve information - and get directions... "navigate to blah blah land". They even have trading apps for the iPhone - which has smaller real estate than the phone suggested.

Tablets have plenty of good uses imo but walking and using an iPad for directions when you have a "smart phone" is not one of them, playing the stock market with a tablet while you're walking would not be my idea of a clever way to use it either. Trying to justify purchasing an item by dreaming up scenarios where some other item is not as good is not neccessary, you like the thing, get it - the only justification neccessary imo.

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38281674)

The things you mention that are actually useful to do while standing, can already be done by any smartphone on the market, including the Iphone. For the rest, a netbook is clearly superior.
People like you are the worst kind of advocates around. You love something because it's a shiny expensive new toy, but you feel you have to make up reasons why it's better than everything and the worst part is that you're completely oblivious of the fact. Self-deceiving but not fooling anyone else. Lacking in self-knowledge but quick to point out perceived flaws in others.

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282010)

Could it also be because it's easier to do some things on a 10 inch screen than a 3-4 inch screen?
Not to mention it's a niche market that a smartphone kind of touches but is generalized.

Welcome to the future - Everything overlaps a touch into realms of something else. A smartphone is just a small computer, why carry that thing around when you could just carry around a computer to do real computing?
(tongue-in-cheek, hoping the point is comprehended)

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (1)

blind monkey 3 (773904) | more than 2 years ago | (#38284074)

I personally assume people carry a smart phone around to make / recieve calls and text messages, the examples that were given - check stocks while walking, navigate to somewhere are handled easier with a smart phone - watch a video too, it would be better with a larger screen but if I'm walking (I think Petersko was building up a scenario to justify having a tablet rather than a netbook as the netbook would be better to watch a movie on if seated) the smaller, easier to carry item would be the phone - plus it is possible to use with one hand.
The coffee shop scenario was a bit silly too imo - I would assume there are tables there, the form factor of the netbook would suit me better.

Tablet evangelists please stop with the coffee shop examples, the tablet is getting a bad name as a toy for the latte set.

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282066)

You and I will walk down the street. You have your netbook, I'll have an iPad. Then we'll time who can check their stocks and email, or pull up the local map for directions the quickest. Perhaps we'll watch some videos.

And I'm driving my 3/4 ton pickup. You're both toast.

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (1)

BluBrick (1924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38283910)

You and I will walk down the street. You have your netbook, I'll have an iPad. Then we'll time who can check their stocks and email, or pull up the local map for directions the quickest. Perhaps we'll watch some videos.

And I'm driving my 3/4 ton pickup. You're both toast.

Not both. Only the numbnut who isn't paying attention to the world around him, and thinks he doesn't need to watch where he's going because he has an important stock to check, email to reply to, tweet to read, or Farmville update to post.

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38283264)

OK, we'll race. I'll beat you with my 4G phone, and after I sit down at my destination, I'll still be able to get work done (that requires typing) with my notebook computer.

iPads are great, just not for typing.

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (1)

Palshife (60519) | more than 2 years ago | (#38283584)

Stupid question, but why wouldn't you just use a keyboard with your iPad if you need to do extensive typing?

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (0, Flamebait)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38283446)

LOL, you fanbois are so funny.

So you are telling me that everybody who "hates" iPads have a fixation on netbooks and hate the tablet formfactor.

Silly Troll! You base your weak fanboism on false assumptions.

There are other tablets than the iPad, it is not the only one ( sorry to break your bubble dude )
I wouldnt buy an iPad because I dont think its worth the cost for what it can ( and cannot ) do. The fact its an Apple device, with all its attendant vendor control and lockin, is not the sole reason I wouldnt buy one. I simply do not have a need that is not already covered with my current devices.

If I wanted a Tablet, the iPad would not be the only one on my list.

EAASL (1, Informative)

Petersko (564140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38284016)

Me (English): "I swear you netbook-fixated iPad haters just don't have a clue what a tablet is about..."

You (English as a second language): "So you are telling me that everybody who "hates" iPads have a fixation on netbooks and hate the tablet formfactor."

No. I was specifically addressing that subset of iPad haters that are netbook-fixated, and placing the original poster in that group.

Re:Tell you what - I'll race you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331966)

This is the truth. I thought tablets were useless until I got my Nook Color and put CyanogenMod on it. I'm very much looking forward to getting an ASUS Transformer Prime now.

Re:Buy a netbook (0)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281920)

I've evolved way past netbooks. I had one.
If you're worried primarily on how much money leaves your pocket, then yes.. netbooks win, in the short-run.

TouchFire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38280790)

It's called TouchFire but it's for the iPad, not the Kindle Fire.

Epic Product Name Fail.

Defeating the Tablet (4, Insightful)

ettusyphax (1155197) | more than 2 years ago | (#38280850)

I love how people buy all these hundreds of dollars worth in accessories for their iPad (or what have you) - tactile keyboard, cover jacket that doubles as a stand, extra speakers, a dock for the desktop and a jacket for extra battery life, etc etc. When they probably could have spent less than half that and just got a laptop if that's really what they wanted to begin with. But no, let me just buy into the hype and get an iPad that I have no real use for (not saying there aren't uses) then duct tape stuff onto it until it becomes usable. Ever since the first iPad came out people have been trying to turn tablets into laptops. I'd suggest if they care that much they should get an ASUS Transformer or similar, or hmm, maybe a laptop?

Also please note I'm not putting down tablets, they're very cool, I have the aforementioned ASUS offering and love it. But I also have a laptop, and I imagine many of these folks do as well if they can afford to throw away cash on pretty toys. Even business users would probably be better served by a Fujitsu or Lenovo convertible. Oh well.

Re:Defeating the Tablet (1)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 2 years ago | (#38280912)

You're forgetting that we can't invent poor solutions to our problems with we don't continue to reinvent new problems to solutionize.

I'm only out $5. (2)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281192)

I got a folding pleather case for my iPad 1 on clearance for $5. It functions as a stand, too. Bluetooth keyboards aren't hard to find on clearance, either, but I happened to get one of the Apple ones from work when they rolled out Macs with better USB keyboards.

A spare battery hasn't been necessary, even when traveling & watching movies the battery really lasts. I don't charge it more than once every couple of days and it gets used quite a bit.

Outside of that, I haven't found much of a need for anything else. Even the keyboard is kind of more headache than it's worth, except when traveling.

The only other accessory I wish worked with it is a bluetooth mouse, and only then for using RDP sessions, and only then probably when traveling and needing to interact with a PC intensively. Apple's decided not to support this, but even if they did I already own a BT mouse.

It's because they don't need a tablet (0)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281198)

They buy it because it is a shiny new toy and they want it. They have no reason for it, they just want it. However rather than just admit and accept that they want a toy, they then have to try and justify it by attempting to make it useful. So they turn it in to a laptop.

That is why I don't own a tablet: I have a laptop and smartphone and I cannot think of a single thing I would use a tablet for that I wouldn't rather use one of those for. I'm not saying I can't think of any use, just not any use for me.

I use it all the time. (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281670)

I use it for doing email or reading (webpages or books) while I'm on my couch or anywhere that's not my desk. I'll also use it at my desk to do a web search or respond to emails, if I'm doing something else at the same time on my computer. It is excellent for watching movies (the battery life is amazing, much better than any laptop) or playing games, navigating, going on Facebook, or any number of other things. As long as I'm not working, the iPad is where it's at. And even when I am working, it helps out. It's certainly not just a shiny toy.

Re:It's because they don't need a tablet (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282354)

While I admit this keyboard is a little cliche, I hardly think your right on the whole shiny new toy idea. I use my iPad all of the time, and it's not a shiny new toy. Not anymore than a 50" flat-screen television was a shiny new toy compared to a 50 inch rear-projection television. I use a laptop at home when I want to do heavy computing. (virtualization, etc) However, it weights 4 lbs, and takes a minute or two to boot. Battery life is only 5-6 hours, as well. my iPad2 weighs 1.25 lbs, about the shape of a thin notepad, and is in constant standby with nearly imperceptible battery drain. While on, battery life is 10 hours.
I edit documents, create spreadsheets, do financial transactions, play games, ssh into servers, do graphics editing, make phone calls (on 802.11 networks), email, surf the web with multiple browsers...
I keep my smartphone around as a novelty, at most as a quick wifi hub.

Re:It's because they don't need a tablet (1)

jaysones (138378) | more than 2 years ago | (#38334932)

So your position is "the 30 million iPad buyers are rich idiots because I can't imagine needs beyond my own."

Re:Defeating the Tablet (1)

tesseractor (1201811) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281630)

Our iPad 1 at home is rarely put down. We use it for practically everything, without accessories. Your mileage may vary.

Re:Defeating the Tablet (2)

timster (32400) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282206)

There are a lot of iPad accessory options out there but they don't turn the device into a laptop, or into something like a laptop. Even if someone uses a keyboard to write emails once in a while they don't likely use the keyboard for Web surfing, reading maps, or for any of the many other tasks to which a tablet is better suited than a laptop. Also I think you are severely overestimating how popular these accessories are compared to the iPad itself. Frankly it's nice that the iPad is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of usage scenarios, unlike a laptop.

I'm sort of sad to see so many Slashdotters responding so poorly to tablets, which are the most important development in computing in a decade. We ought to be leading the charge forward and demanding tablet casemods and overclocking. Instead we are whining that a screen attached to a keyboard via a hinge is the One True Way. Laptops were designed for office work and they do not make very good home personal computers.

Re:Defeating the Tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38282394)

The mindless hype driven sheeple are often 1) crowd-sourced R&D funding 2) while supply and demand still holds, most of the time these people cause your toys to become cheaper due to the economies of scale having a larger effect.

What's not to love? Let them eat cake.

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38280954)

People create these gadgets to actually change the way Apple meant it's devices to work. So that means that Apple has not made people change their ways, people are still trying to bend the device to some other utility that does not exist.

That's like the guy who wrote the article that working full time with his IPAD wrtiting articles works fine for him BUT, he added an external keyboard and a huge display and still uses another MAC laptop 20% of the time to do the rest.

Please, please, do not compare,, NO ONE USES THE IPAD EXCLUSIVELY unless it's their only device, i dont know many people who does.

I miss the Tandy (3, Interesting)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281018)

The 100 was a portable writing tool that has yet to be equaled. It was the mechanics of the thing. Typing on one was a joy. Add to that the perfect instant-on and the ruggedness and it's no wonder that many writers held onto them long, long after they were obsolete. Some people still use and love them. I have one and only the lack of easy data transfer to other devices or the network prevents me from using it as my primary writing hardware.

I would happily pay the price of an iPad for a new 100 that ran just enough linux for me to get into vi. I'd happily accept the 8-line monochrome lcd. The only required bit of modernity would be a couple of current ports. For a huge upgrade, give it the Enable software suite, a wonderful office suite that did 99% of everything that most users need, all accessed via an arrow-to-do-everything interface that was fast, fast, fast. (Oh, wait, Enable was bought and killed off by..who was it?)

If this screen overlay thingie is anywhere close to producing a modern version of the 100, I'll buy one and predict surprisingly brisk sales. Somehow, I doubt that's how things will work out.

Re:I miss the Tandy (1)

supercrisp (936036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281974)

YES. I was just this weekend sitting on my back porch wishing I had something like an old Tandy so that I could type out some ideas. It would be great if a low-cost, reliable device were available. And I don't mean those Dayna things. I was really hoping the OLPC would provide something. Then that ugly thing showed up. And then the netbooks feature-crept out of my price range. Oh well. Problem is that the single-use device is nice, but even I won't buy it, especially with a cart full of poop monkeys need diapers.

Re:I miss the Tandy (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282196)

This. An updated 100, call it a Model 1000. The same keyboard (perhaps a little quieter - I don't have any of those little rubber bands they use on braces anymore). Maybe a bit more screen and of course modern communications gear. Use AA's. It can be about the same size, perhaps a little thinner but not much.

Use if for text. Text. Text. Not everything else on the planet.

Of course, it would never fly - there would be too much pressure to make it another iPad / netbook and they would ruin the utility of it for text input.

Still have mine. Have to put some batteries in it one day and see if it fires up. 300 Baud. College girls. Ah, the memories.

Re:I miss the Tandy (2)

eobanb (823187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290156)

Perhaps you should try building one with a Raspberry Pi (once they're released)? A credit card-sized 700 MHz ARMv6 board with SD storage, USB, and it can run off a pair of AA's. You could connect a small cheap 128x64 monochrome LCD like this one from Sparkfun [amazon.com] to the GPIO, hook up a keyboard, and run a minimal Debian distribution.

$25 for the Raspberry Pi, $40 or so for the LCD, $10 for the keyboard; throw another $25 in to order a 3D-printed plastic case, use an old 1 GB SD card....total cost would be around $100.

Re:I miss the Tandy (2)

eobanb (823187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290240)

Addendum: with an Arduino you could do it even cheaper and you could build it this weekend, although it would involve more DIY software dev and result in less overall capability (with a Raspberry Pi and a tiny USB wifi module you could read RSS feeds or email, etc).

Arduino would be about $20; Longtech makes a cheap 128x64 LCD [amazon.com] for $17, keyboard would be $10, and if you fabbed the case yourself for free, total cost would be about $50.

Re:I miss the Tandy (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282736)

I sadly never had one, but I still dream about getting that or something similar.

For me, keypress depth is very important for touch typing. For some reason, I can't get into the crap apple type barely any depth for desktop keyboards. And not a single laptop other than the 100 had a "full depth" keyboard.

Maybe there exists a decent bluetooth keyboard for use with a tablet? I have not seen them, they are usually low profile.

Re:I miss the Tandy (1)

Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285026)

The Alphasmart Neo [neo-direct.com] is almost what you want. It's instant on and rugged, has a nice keyboard and a USB out, and you get hundreds and hundreds of hours of use from three AA batteries. It only has five lines of monochrome on the display, and it has its own locked-in OS, and in the netbook era it's a bit difficult to justify $170 on something so limited. But it's a great machine for cranking out text.

NEC 8201 (2)

Nishi-no-wan (146508) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289706)

I had the Japanese equivilent, the NEC 8201. It was my first computer, bought with my summer job money when I was in high school. I took that with me everywhere, typing in programs from monthly Japanese computer magazines (learning programming and how to read Japanese at the same time).

I still have my 8201, but it doesn't boot up any more. I wish I understood hardware, because I'd really like to let my kids get a feel for what computing was like 28 years ago.

Jello (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38281046)

It looks like someone used a keyboard outline and made some finger jello.

Everyone has to remember the iPad was created to Consume Media not make it. So why do you need a keyboard? You want your 500$ device do more than what it was designed to do? You should have gotten a real computer that does that already.

Go a head and mod me. The truth hurts, doesn't it?

Re:Jello (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282082)

You sound like some old guy who's seeing something changed and bitching about it...

Truth hurts, don't it?

Nope (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281048)

I sticky piece of rubber wont make me buy a tablet either.

Re:Nope (2)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282056)

I don't think the goal is to make you use a tablet, I think the goal is more to help those that do.

I don't understand (2)

oic0 (1864384) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281060)

Did I miss the part where this is non-profit or a charity? Why are people donating money to someones business plan?

Re:I don't understand (2)

Yadyn (1374599) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281798)

Because they want to see this product/vision brought to market with an actual purchasable thing?

Traditionally, start-up funding would be by wealthy entrepreneurs, investors/venture capitalists, or maybe just the founders running up credit cards and loans at their bank. This way, they have a vehicle for funding new ideas to make them real. Sounds good to me, especially because it's completely self-contained to the people who directly choose to involve themselves.

Re:I don't understand (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38282340)

Almost nobody is "donating" money (there's only 63 people who have). Almost everybody is essentially pre-ordering the product. The idea is, I have a product I want to sell but I don't have the money to make it. I offer it for preorder on kickstarter. People pledge to buy it. If enough people make the pledge for me to raise the necessary money, then all of those people will have their credit cards charged by kickstarter, I'll receive a check from kickstarter for the amount raised, I can make my product, and then I ship the product to all of the users.

Meaningless comparisons with old technology (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281148)

The Tandy actually had much better battery life than an iPad, but could do far less.

In what possible way could a 30 year old computer with an 80C85 processor and 32 Kilobits of RAM and an 240x64 non-backlit LCD display be a meaningful comparison to any modern computer? Of course it needed less power. That's like comparing a Model T to a Bugatti Veyron.

Re:Meaningless comparisons with old technology (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282250)

Philistine. Some of us have memories. Motor memories of good keyboards. Computers and keyboards that were sturdy enough to use as defensive weapons. Batteries available anywhere.

No touchy-feely screens. No hieroglyphic icons.

And we liked it like that.

Timothydot (1)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281162)

News For Timothy, Stuff That Matters (To Timothy)

Re:Timothydot (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285148)

Don't like his stories? Then exclude his submissions.

I figure if enough people block a useless editor then we might be able to force him out.

Either that or they keep score. "Woohoo! I just passed Timothy for most accounts excluding my submissions!"

Look! It's a three-handed monkey! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38281244)

With this you can touch type while holding your tablet? They should research their target market audience's appendages better.

Kickstarter needs more kicking... (4, Interesting)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281260)

It's hard to write about Kickstarter projects, because there are so many cool ideas that seem to deserve funding it's simply overwhelming. The TouchFire keyboard is one of those cool ideas, too, but it's far surpassed the founders' original funding goals and is nearing production.

I've been very interested in a kickstarter project for the last six months, one I didn't know about until the deadline passed.. It reached almost 300% of it's funding level, started production, and...nothing.

They have an official website, and it never seemed to change. It was always "Sign up for the mailing list; we'll let you know when we've completed the kickstarter orders and can take orders from the public!" I had no idea when and if they were ever actually going to put out a product I could buy; I've already bought a conventional model in that time.

I finally noticed today that they were updating their kickstarter page; they've been posting their progress in detail and expect to take public orders next month. I just wasn't looking there because I didn't get in on the kickstart and did I mention they have an official website?

Sometimes kickstarter is awesome; sometimes it's an intolerable pain in the ass to be someone's guinea pig in the transition from garage engineer to functional company.

Slash (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281374)

vertisement.

A particularly shitty one, too.

Does anyone else hear that? (1)

tod8688 (720002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38281756)

That sound, it's not thunder, or a train. That's Steve rolling around in his grave. If he wanted the device to have a keyboard he would have included it at some point in the design. But he really wanted to eliminate all the other "accessory" pieces on computers. I highly doubt he would appreciate a former MS guy mucking with that. That being said, will I get one? Yes I probably would because I can appreciate a novel idea to a slightly bothersome issue. But the price point has to be pretty low. I wouldn't spend more than $10 on something like this. Then I can throw in in a bag and forget about it until I have a longer trip and I don't want to carry a full laptop due to size, stress, or fear of damage/theft. (Just to note it's much easier to conceal an ipad, but if someone is determined enough they could still take it.)

what about my iPad fan accessory? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38283386)

Gets a little warm in my lap sometime. I've developed a plug min-fan to cool it off. Every iPad should have one!

Firmware change away from useless (1)

Nylathotep (72183) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282348)

It's an interesting thought, but I would be concerned that the OS may get a revision and move the key placements slightly and screw it all up.

Surprising... (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282370)

It's surprising that everybody running around claiming the "death of the computer" are working so hard to make their *pads into virtual laptops. Of course, as common sense would suggest, using "tablets" for reading and typing is pretty difficult. Hence, all of the products that hold the tablets in a position like a laptop, with keyboards in front of the screen (like a laptop). For the same price as one of the gadgets (without the accessories), I'm using a full fledged 17" laptop with an i5, 6 GB RAM, and a 800 GB HD.

Re:Surprising... (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282692)

I don't know that people want virtual laptops. They want certain features of a laptop some of the time without the power consumption, weight, and bulk the rest of the time. Sort of a tablet+. All these add ons let people get what laptop features they want when they want them.

I'll stick with my BT keyboard... (1)

quackPOT (100330) | more than 2 years ago | (#38282478)

For all the hassle, it seems it would just be more simple to use a BT keyboard. I've used the Zagg BT one and it is pretty slick, even doubles as a cover, which makes it a cinch to transport with the ipad.

Slashdot linking to articles on TC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38283104)

You know /. has gone full retard when it's linking to articles on TechCrunch. Never thought I would see the day...

External keyboards? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38283542)

Is the issue with the lack of tactile keyboard, or the use of real-estate (screen space), or both?

I've seen tablets/phones that come with a folding carry-case that also has a slim keyboard in it. In some cases it's a bluetooth keyboard, in others it uses the USB connector.

It seems a better solution that having to slap a keyboard on your screen.

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