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7/13/2009
09:07 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Samsung Files Patent On Different QWERTY Keyboard

Samsung has filed a patent on a flip-out QWERTY keyboard designed to work with touch screen devices. Touch is fine, but for some things, a physical keyboard just cannot be replaced by a virtual onscreen keyboard.

Samsung has filed a patent on a flip-out QWERTY keyboard designed to work with touch screen devices. Touch is fine, but for some things, a physical keyboard just cannot be replaced by a virtual onscreen keyboard.According to WM PowerUser, which has some drawings of the keyboard, the keyboard is split in half, with each half folding out from behind the screen hinged at the bottom. This means the keyboard is split in two with the screen in the middle. I guess you'd now physically be holding the device up by these thin keyboard halves (wings?) and not touching the main device at all. It is also probably instantly usable rather than having to wait the half second or so it takes for side-slideout keyboard devices to rotate the screen.

I admire Samsung for what they are trying to do here. I've used devices with no keyboard and as I said, it just doesn't cut it for 100% of your needs. Devices that have slide down keyboards tend to be a bit top-heavy, though Palm has done a pretty decent job with this style of keyboard on their new Pre device. Side-slideout keyboards like that on the T-Mobile G-1 or AT&T Tilt have the disadvantage that the device has to rotate the screen, and depending on what you are doing at the time, it can seem like forever for it to rotate and become responsive again.

It remains to be seen how a device would feel with these keyboard wings, and how easy it would be to use. My desktop keyboard is split in two - it is one of those Microsoft ergonomic jobs, so it wouldn't me anything new for me. The question is, how stable would the device feel in your hands? I can see it not being weighted right and have a tendency to roll back or forwards in your hands depending on where you were thumbing at the time.

Still, it is good to see the innovation. I've never seen a QWERTY device that totally suited me. Even RIM's great keyboards have a major drawback - they are always there, and just like I can't really own a device sans keyboard, I don't need one where it is ever present either.

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