Category Archives: Mobile

Thinking about the keyboard

** Suy nghĩ linh tinh về bàn phím máy tính **

Circle Keyboard

** Bài viết trình bày một cách sơ lược về lịch sử  của bàn phím máy tính, đồng thời giới thiệu các loại bàn phím thông dụng hiện nay**

While writing this line, I’m very irritated by the fact that my new Acer’s laptop keyboard is too suck. The keyboard is small, constructed by strange placement (at least for a long time HP-user like me):

  1. The arrow buttons is VERY small and hard to stroke
  2. The numpad is BIG but I nearly never use them.
  3. Re-placement of End/Home/Delete button, compared to the HP.

Yeah, I know this comparison is unfair, but what’s the heck that every laptop manufacturer needs re-inventing the keyboard design? Do they know that every time a user switch to a new brand laptop, he need to learn using the keyboard again?

In short, what’s wrong with the IBM keyboard model, which all of us already getting familiar to?

With that idea in mind, I scrawl the web a little to see what had happened with the keyboard through history. And what I found shock me a bit: the designs of computer keyboard do varies greatly, along with the time as well as their functions.

The very first keyboard of the world is invented by Christopher Sholes and Amos Densmore in 1875. It’s often called the QWERTY keyboard, due to the fact that those letters are the top-left buttons of this kind. Why didn’t they make , says, an ABC keyboard instead? It’s about typing speed. At that time, the typing machine is not as good as ours today, so if the user types too fast, the function will break and results in bad printed-paper. Hence the keyboard is made, with difficult combination of letters, to make people type more SLOWER. Kind of strange.

Coming for today, the QWERTY is still the most common and we all learn to type on this thing, though the problem of printers no longer exists. Have you had bad time learning to type fast on the slowing-keyboard? Well, now at least you know you need to blame whom. ;)

But wait, as I said, there’s a lot of other kinds of keyboard. Here they go:

1. The ergonomic keyboard

Ergonomic Keyboard

Coming from the fact that the slow-down keyboard is no longer fit user needs, the ergonomic keyboard was born. Its purpose is to make typing easier for human, lessen moving actions when typing, comfort our hands… Such many priority compared  its ancestor, but it still can’t get the market. Why? Maybe because people don’t want to change old habits, and even forget why they adopt that habit in the first place. ;)

2. Portable keyboard

Portable keyboard

Not about different keyboard layout, but this kind of keyboard is interesting in its mobility. You can fold, wrap and take it everywhere! They use USB port, radio wave, or even light interceptor. I think its a good replacement for my laptop.

3. Mobile device keyboard

A new era of mobile device has just begun. Along with thousands of phone, PDA and tablet has been sold, there are also hundreds kinds of keyboard layout. Not mentioning the minor variations, I have seen:

Standard keypad: nothing much to say, we are all familiar with it.

Standard keyboard

Standard keyboard

2. QWERTY-like keypad: This kind looks just like a standard computer keyboard. A typical representative of this model is famous Black Berry. With the mini-keyboard at hand, the cell phone is more powerful, but its user also had a hard time to navigate through the tiny buttons. The needs to have a different type of interface, which ease the pain of mobile users gave birth to a masterpiece of technology world, the iPhone, and then iPad and other tablets.

QWERTY-keyboard of mobile device

QWERTY-keyboard of mobile device

Blackberry keypad

Blackberry keypad

Touch and feel – and still, the virtual keyboard

The massive success of iPhone and iPad has become a shock through out the world. They change the way we think about a PDA: touch & feels. Now, no more poor buttons, just manipulate it with your own fingers very naturally. With iPhone & iPad, Steve Jobs and Apple has changed the game and take a strong hit in improving user experience.

So now, what about our keyboards? Not all the functions of an advanced mobile device can be achieved without some way of typing letters. We need to type emails, enter URL for browsing the internet. And yes, manufacturers found a very interesting way to do: the virtual keyboard.

When you hit any textbox in an app on iPad, a virtual keyboard automatically appears. The things I like about it is that it’s not like a normal minimized keyboard. Actually, it’s a simple version which only have BIG button of letter characters, not number. And there’s a switch button that change this keyboard to a simple version of number characters.

Virtual keyboard of the iPad

Virtual keyboard of the iPad

Up to this time, I have come through several “design patterns” of the Keyboard. Well, it may not mean that much, but as I see, that’s a gradual improvement process overtime. Our life nowadays is built up day by day by these process.