Loving the iPhone isn’t hard to do but so is hating the virtual keyboard and, especially, Adaptive Text.
A friend of mine recently sent this by mistake to his wife: “I just laid the nanny” – when he tried to text, “I just paid the nanny”.
Freudian Slips aside, Apple’s ‘Redacted’ Text is pants. Let’s be honest, how many of us look at our Blackberry friends and wish we had an input device that was just as efficient – and less prone to embarrassing remarks?
Boxwave has introduced a slide-out bluetooth iPhone keyboard for those of us who’ve ever wished to have something physical to sink our fingers into.
I’ve spent roughly a week using mine and it’s been a mixed experience.
On the plus side, the Boxwave bluetooth iPhone keyboard is well manufactured and is very light weight. Unfortunately, by the time you insert your iPhone into it, the weight factor is lost to the bulk factor. It makes your iPhone look and feel like one of those early HTC Windows mobile phones.
Not quite the ugly step-sister but it isn’t the svelte iPhone that you bought in the first place. Okay, then, you’ve sacrificed sexiness for functionality – so how does the keyboard perform?
This is where Boxwave has fallen down in my opinion. If the keyboard itself had been a hands-down, fantastic user experience – then I could have lived with the Frankenstein packaging. But, unfortunately, it isn’t the greatest keyboard ever made.
The problem isn’t so much the tactile nature of the keys themselves. The keys are well machined and have a nice ‘click’ when you press them. The problem is that they have compromised the keyboard, so that touch-typists have a very hard time getting used to it.
In particular, they have chopped down the space bar and pushed it all the way to the right. Why did they do this? The spacebar is one of the most-used keys on the keyboard. You need to be able to press it with either hand. This was a big mistake in my opinion.
Next problem is the shift key. It doesn’t stick when you need a capital letter, so you must hold it down AND type the key you want capitalised. As a result, you end up twisting your hands into various contortions in order to prevent dropping your iPhone, while trying to get the capital key you want. I’m not a juggler, so I failed often at this task. The same goes for the function key by the way, so you can only get question marks and apostrophes by playing Twister.
I was infuriated by the keyboard because I have big fingers. This meant that I could rarely hit the key that I wanted – and got two in one by mistake. As a result, I was faster and just as inaccurate using the iPhone’s built-in virtual keyboard as I was with the Boxwave keyboard. I would imagine, though, that if you had slender fingers this would not be a problem for you.
I also found the bluetooth connectivity to be a bit irritating. Connecting the device to the iPhone is straightforward. You slide the keyboard switch ‘On’ and then depress a little button to initiate a bluetooth connection. The problem comes if you ever disconnect your keyboard (by turning it ‘off’, for example). To reconnect it, you have to press that little button again – and this button needs a pen nib, or a paper clip or something to reach it, because it’s recessed from accidental engagement. Why the keyboard doesn’t automatically connect again when it’s switched on is lost on me. This is an irritating extra step that you must perform.
The battery life of the rechargeable battery inside the Boxwave bluetooth keyboard is good. It lasts about a week but you can easily recharge it at any time with a USB cable (the connector on the keyboard is micro USB). It’s not hard to get into the habit of connecting it whenever you are near a power source, so it never runs out.
In summary, I’d say that the Boxwave iPhone bluetooth keyboard will work reasonably well for people with slender fingers who are not touch-typists. They will probably be able to improve the accuracy of their text input with a couple of days of practice. If you are one of these people and you compose long documents on your iPhone while on-the-run, don’t mind bulking up your iPhone a bit, then this is probably the keyboard for you. As for the rest of us, I suggest we pass.
[Editor’s Note: we are giving away our test model. It’s in good shape and has hardly been used. This is part of a cross-promotion with SEAM. If you are a fan of film and want to get your hands on one of these, you can accumulate points and get ours for free. Click here for details on how to win it for yourself.]