LAS VEGAS, CES 2014 – At the big “CES Unveiled” press event on Sunday night, one of the biggest draws was the TrewGrip keyboard; a funky Bluetooth keyboard for smartphones and tablets with the keys on the back of the device.
The company’s reps were mobbed by curious journalists, jockeying each other to get a better a look at the keyboard that claims to be “the evolution of typing.”
Designed for typists on the go, like healthcare professionals making hospital rounds, the TrewGrip is a unique reverse keyboard with a full set of QWERTY keys on the back.
Using it requires retraining and takes a week or more to master, but at the booth, company reps were tapping out 60-80 words a minute. Not as fast as many touch-typists on a regular keyboard, but a lot faster than pecking away on a glass screen.
Most mobile keyboards for smartphones or tablets are made as small as possible. Not the TrewGrip. It’s designed to bring touch typing to mobile users who need (or prefer) to type standing up or on the go. It connects via Bluetooth and can be used with desktops and TVs.
The keys are arranged in a gentle curve on the back. There are thumb keys on the top for tab, enter and space. A set of lights on top illuminate when the rear keys are pressed, giving the user some feedback. Nonetheless, first time use is extremely confusing as there is no muscle memory for the location of the keys. It’s back to hunt and peck until you train your fingers to use it. The company says the learning curve is about 8–10 hours and that many typists will find the transition fairly easy.
But I’m skeptical. I don’t think many users outside of specialist applications will make the effort. I certainly can’t see bloggers investing hours to master it.
The TrewGrip is being previewed at CES and is expected to ship in the second half of 2014 for about $250. There’s a magnetic holster-style attachment for easily clipping it to a belt.