the best keyboard evar – maybe

15Oct05

nokia announced a bunch of new “phones” this past week. i put phones in quotes because only one of them is actually designed around making calls. the others are really focused on email / messaging / net access. one of them is called the e61, and if the press photos are correct, it may just have the most internet friendly keyboard ever.

hiptop2.jpg

the keybaord above is from the hiptop2 / sidekick II. currently it is the reigning champ. not just because the keys feel great but because of what is placed where. take a good look at either side of the space bar. on the right side, where one normally thinks of punctuation is the period. on the left, which usually goes unexamined, it the @. these are the two most common symbols used by any internet user, and they are easily accessed. unfortunately the two second-most common symbols – the forward slash and apostrophe – most both be accessed from the symbol key. an unfortunate oversight.

q.jpg

t700.jpg

P990.jpg

however the hiptop2 keyboard is still leaps and bounds better than any of the other keyboards from recently announced net-centric “phones.” just check out this gallery of awkward punctuation and symbol placement. seemingly random dots dashes and swirls over the letters on the keyboards of hotly awaited models like the motorola Q, palm treo 700w, and sony ericsson p990. (in that order above.) they’re each awful. the designers were solely concerned with conserving space to maximize the size of each button, ignoring each symbol’s usefulness or place on common qwerty keyboards. with the exception of the period, which each places just to the right of the m – an appropriate and convenient spot. woo, 1 out of 25, even a broken clock is right more often.

e61good.jpg

which is why i got so excited when i saw the e61 (above). check out the symbol placement. / @ ‘ , . are all easily accessible without any special symbol or shift keys and are in positions both relative to their importance and to their places on the keyboard (except for / but we’ll forgive them since . is in the right place). if this is the final keyboard for the e61, we could kiss nokia. and we would subsequently argue that every single manufacturer should copy it exactly.

e61bad.jpg

however, the above is a picture rich took of the e61 at an event this past week. here, the symbols and punctuation are all jumbled up. now guessing by the complete lack of a $ (where the press pic showed pound dollar and euro), i’m guessing, i’m hoping, hell i’m praying that what rich snapped was an engineering sample and not the final keyboard. i guess we’ll find out as the eseries gets closer to launch, which won’t be until early next year.

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One Response to “the best keyboard evar – maybe”

  1. 1 Steve

    Based on the currency symbols, I would guess that the “bad” Nokia keyboard is the European model — I know from my last trip to Italy that European QWERTY keyboards have slight (but disconcerting) differences from American ones, so perhaps the changes reflect those differences?


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