I like to back Kickstarter products, especially Mac and iPhone-related gadgets. In the past I’ve backed and received an iPad stand and power adapter covers (not to mention a coffee gadget, some musical productions, and more). Maybe it’s the hope and promise embodied in the little guy with a big idea.
So when I heard last fall about the Touchfire, an iPad keyboard, and watched the video, I knew I had to back it. After a series of manufacturing delays (you get a good lesson in the woes of product design from being a Kickstarter backer) and a re-design caused by changes in the iPad 3, I finally got my new Touchfire a couple of weeks ago.
It’s pretty remarkable and mostly lives up to the hype. While it’s designed to tuck up under the Smart Cover when not in use, I feel like it’s a little too bulky to keep there so I keep it in its case. And I think you will benefit the most if you’re a touch typist. But even if you’re not, you will still benefit from the tactile feedback it gives.
The Touchfire is a thin, clear plastic flexible film, with raised button pads to correspond with the onscreen keyboard underneath. (It may be obvious, but it bears pointing out that the Touchfire only works in landscape mode, but then that’s the only way I type when I use the iPad on a flat surface.) A touch typist will be able to rest his fingers on the home row, but even a hunt-and-peck typist will find their typing speed up.
Sure a real keyboard, like the Apple Bluetooth wireless keyboard or the Logitech keyboard case, will provide a better experience, especially since you don’t lose screen real estate to the onscreen keyboard with them, with the Touchfire you don’t have to worry about batteries or Bluetooth pairing.
Touchfire also has a nice website for new users to help provide some training and familiarization as you get used to it. By the end of the training, I was up to 120 words per minute.
At $50, it’s not a cheap accessory, but if you’re looking for an iPad keyboard that adds little to no bulk, it’s a worthy consideration.
Oh, and of course, I typed this review on my iPad using the Touchfire keyboard.