We've looked at various folding portable keyboards designed to make it easy for those that like some tactile feedback when entering text on mobile devices. But California-based WayTools has taken a different approach with the TextBlade keyboard, which it claims is the "most compact touch-type machine ever produced" and literally pulls apart to fit in a pocket.
Sticking to the familiar QWERTY layout, the TextBlade comprises three separate modules, each of which isn't much bigger than a stick of chewing gum. When placed in close proximity to one another in the correct orientation, the three pieces magnetically snap together to form the complete keyboard. One of the modules forms the space bar, while the other two each feature four oversized "ultra smart keys" and make up the remainder of the keyboard.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Each of these smart keys packs capacitive touch technology like that used in smartphone touchscreens to bring multi-touch capabilities to each individual physical button. This allows up to six different characters to be placed on each key – or 12 if you count the use of a shift key – with a full 19 mm finger spacing.
To provide the feel of a conventional desktop keyboard without the bulk, the keys feature what WayTools calls "MagLever" technology. This is a contactless sensing technology that provides 2 mm of travel, without any of the wear or depth associated with spring-based keys.
If you think too much key real estate is devoted to the space bar, that's because it also holds the lithium polymer battery that fast charges in under an hour via USB. The company claims a single charge will last around a month with typical usage, largely due to the use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to connect wirelessly with a mobile device.
Weighing just 1.5 oz and measuring 104 x 30.6 x 11.3 mm, the TextBlade comes with a carry sleeve for the keyboard that also doubles as a stand for a smartphone or tablet when using the keyboard. It is compatible with iOS and Android devices with BLE.
WayTools has begun production of the TextBlade and says deliveries will begin next month. Pre-orders are currently being taken, with the device retailing for US$99.
The device can be seen in action in the video below.