iType Physical Keyboard for iPhone Gets the Ultimate Test -- TiPb @ CES 2010

ion_itype2

Ion's iType is a full sized -- full. sized. -- keyboard for the iPhone or iPod touch that comes bundled with an App Store app for easy text input. Output is another story -- given the iPhone's app sandboxing, you have to email or copy and paste the text into other apps. Ion is open to letting other apps use their hardware, however, so if Apple doesn't get it together and offer standardized keyboard dock and BT protocols, and something like a Finger App to share document content, we're hoping third parties can get at least part of it done themselves.

They also make a piano/synthesizer style iDiscover keyboard as well.

But enough philosophy, let's get physical with the keyboard. And who better to try perform the ultimate typing test than our best frenemy CrackBerry Kevin. He puts it through its paces in the video below. Check it out after the break, and let us know what you think.


[YouTube video link]

[gallery link="file" columns="2"]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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iType Physical Keyboard for iPhone Gets the Ultimate Test -- TiPb @ CES 2010

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@Ty
I agree. Why not have a Mac keyboard link to it. Or a newer version that's foldable.
This just seems like something that isn't practical. Who will really carry this around...they might as well just carry their laptop/netbook.

looks like another reason to jailbreak, to get the BT stack to use with any HID keyboard. like standards man, wow

the itype is nowhere to be found on ion's web site. (the link in this article doesn't work, and a search for "itype" or "iphone" reveals nothing about the device.)
i'm sure it exists, but it's tacky of them not to have their site up-to-date.
also, the asymmetrical placement of the logos on the unit is ugly.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too big. Should be sleek and elegant like the Apple keyboards. Hopefully, their 2.0 product is a littler closer to what Apple customers would use.

Apple has simply blown it here BIG TIME.
Apple ALREADY makes a great small Bluetooh keyboard that would work great with the iPHone if only they chose to enable iPhone's Bluetooth stack.
If fact there are any number of great folding keyboards that work for the Palm Treo and Blackberry such as the iGo Stowaway Keyboard shown here: http://tinyurl.com/ykakptd

if you need a KB, bring the laptop. If not, just use the iPhone's existing KB, right?
There's no need for a compact keyboard when you already have one ON the iPhone....

And the iPhone still displays the keyboard on screen... I appreciate that may well be a limitation, but honestly, Just no. Who'd want to type on a screen 3'x1'?
And to second others sentiment... Why so large?

I used to have a foldable BT keyboard for my last smartphone and was anxious for an iPhone version. But after working with the iPhone for a long time now, I see no use for a big, fat keyboard for it at all. I'm fine with the existing keyboard the way it is. What's the point? Especially if the keyboard is as big as a laptop!

The google phones, etc have mini usb interfaces. I'm surprised no one has made a blackberry size keyboard to slap on the bottom of these phones. Having a physical keyboard that I can click onto the bottom on a nexus 1, htc XXX, would be great.

This is the most useless and pointless device ever created. I'm shocked that they actually sent someone to CES to stand there and pretend like this thing is worth existing. This keyboard isn't good for anything more than a laugh.
The development cost must have been huge since they obviously had to invent time travel and then travel into the past to find keyboard keys that look like that.

What a dumb idea. I will smoke anyone that's uses this with the stock keyboard on the iPhone. Any takers?

I'm sorry but these things just don't make sense to me. I have a 13" Macbook Pro that's the same size of that. Lol. I just don't understand what people are typing on a phone that they need that thing. I run a small business and there's never a time when I say, "Gee, I wish I had a big a** keyboard for my phone!"
funny.

I agree, they missed the idea here. A folding or smaller keyboard would be great. Trouble for any possible keyboard, the longer you have the iPhone or iPod touch, the better you become adapted with the internal keyboard.

Yeah, I find that full-size QWERTY keyboard pretty bulky and impractical, too. As big as it is, why not instead just use a laptop and be done with it? It seems to me like the answer to a question that no-one asked. It might be a little more practical if it folded in half and was at least as thin and light as my iMac's keyboard.
But that iDiscover keyboard (the white synthesizer-like one) looks like something that would actually be fun to experiment with as a songwriting tool for "jotting down" musical ideas and making quick little recordings on an iPhone or iPod Touch. So I could see it (or maybe a later, more refined version of it) becoming a niche product for musicians and music students.

I generally use M-Audio keyboards with MacBooks for music production purposes. I'm afraid the iDiscover is a neat idea but would likely be totally impractical for any serious musician. I understand they want to keep it small, but two octaves is really not enough for anything other than really basic use. Also on the computer side, you need a programme like Logic to do useful work and anything less than 15" is pretty painful screenwise. At most you could use the iPhone as a simple synth tool, but you're still going to have to lug around decent speakers if you want anyone to hear you.
Interesting start but they've a long way to go to get real musicians interested.

@Pat: You have a good point; I was thinking the same thing. It really needs more keys than that to become practical for a musician. Two octaves just isn't going to cut it. I was also thinking it'd be far more practical to just have a real keyboard or synthesizer (e.g. M-Audio, Yamaha, Roland, Korg, etc.) that has a built-in iPod/iPhone dock. I could see that happening in the foreseeable future, if there isn't one out there already. That would be a far more practical direct interface with an iPod or iPhone, I would think.

Looks like the point of the keyboard is simple to understand for me. I'm sitting at my desk with my "normal" keyboard and my handy iphone or other phone is sitting there, charging or updating me with the latest news and tweets.
I wanna send off text or interact with the phone for longer messages, while blogging or sending off several page reports.
Now if there were/is a way to also see on your normal monitor screen what's going to the phone, even better.
Granted as a Blackberry user who doesn't txt as much as some smartphone users, who will also default to his laptop or desktop for long missives and any writing I do, simply because as fast as I am on my BB's keyboard, I can type longer and faster using all my typing fingers than I can hunched over my BB using my thumbs.
And the full sized KB was/is not intended to be used when out and about, unless like Michael Denny says, "Dual purpose… Type and beat the **** out of a mugger with it …"