Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kybard? What's a Kybard?

A few months ago, my sister asked us what kind of tablet she should get. She asked us not because we’re tablet gurus, but because between the two of us, we have no fewer than six tablet devices, ranging from one iPod Touch each to her iPad and iPad Mini and my Kindle and Kindle Fire. 

Sis’ biggest question was this: Which tablet is best for text input? 
We talked her in to upgrading to a better laptop computer instead. 

Because truth is, when it comes to text input, tablets are right now in that awkward stage. Awkward keyboard sizes make typos inevitable and impossible to use for ten-finger typists. Autocorrection makes for some frustrating editing, or, in my case, a lot of errant talk about fir trees, rather than the “for” I was hoping for. 

Yes, there is voice to text – which is great if you’re a loquacious talker, which I am not. I know the speaking part of my brain has little to do with the part of my brain that takes words from brain to screen, via that clunky convention of the QWERTY keyboard. So talking isn’t an option. 

Maybe there are other options. 

There’s something called Swype, which could be a fun thing, taking pattern recognition and other such fancy stuff to a higher, more accurate level. 

There’s also a re-thinking of the traditional tablet keyboard, along the lines of KALQ, which promises to transform ten-finger typists into two-thumb typists (though at a laughable average 37 words per minute, a far cry from my (admittedly snail-paced) 80 wpm on a traditional keyboard.

All of this tinkering gives me hope that in another five years or so, text input on tablets will be as simple – and as fast – as text input with a traditional keyboard.

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