Disclaimer: Touchfire provided Dragonblogger.com with a Touchfire iPad Keyboard for evaluation purposes. Opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.
I like many of you out there often find myself tethered to my iPad. One of the drawbacks of this close relationship I share with it is the fact that I cannot stand the virtual keyboard it comes with. A company called Touchfire heard pleas like mine and came up with the Touchfire iPad Keyboard to solve that very same dilemma. The Touchfire unlike a Bluetooth keyboard does not rely on your iPad’s battery at all. Instead it goes with the simple approach of being a transparent overlay that flips on and off. The main purpose of the device is to provide a quasi-tactile sensation to make your typing more comfortable and fluid. In fact, the barrier is advertised as being so effective that you can rest your fingers on it as you plug away at the silicon keys. Unfortunately, it seems my fingers had lead bricks on them as I was not having any success employing this technique.
Watch the video or continue reading the review below.
First the Positives
Before I actually elaborate on the issues of the Touchfire, I feel it is worth noting what it actually does right. It is amazing how flexible and compact the little silicon keyboard is. Stuffing it into your attaché or plopping it on the iPad Smart Cover is not a problem. When it is on the iPad itself, it hardly obscures your vision of the screen and you can still manage to swipe through it if you want to. It is also thanks to the clever design that you can wash the device in order to get out the dirt or grit that may accumulate under the keys.
Curse You “a” Key!
When mimicking touch typing on the Touchfire you end up making tons of errors. For some reason my pinky kept depressing the “a” key despite the fact that I was trying to rest my fingers as lightly as possible. My theory is that every time I was applying a little bit of pressure to keys surrounding it, my pinky would dip down ever so slightly and end up hitting the “a.” I remained optimistic however and gave the typing tutor on Touchfire’s website a try. Unfortunately that didn’t work out either and I just ended up slaughtering one word after another.
Air Typing is One Workaround
The Touchfire only began working for me when I hovered my fingers in the air or in other words “air typed.” Typing this way provided me the tactile typing sensation that the makers rave about. No doubt I did like that my fingers were coming in contact with a physical surface but it was not as significant as I would have hoped. To my surprise I picked up on certain keys that were either intentionally (backspace key) or unintentionally (“a” key) recessed when typing this way. Air typing also resulted in the keyboard nudging around more often and sticking to my fingertips.
In reality, the Touchfire could be an ingenious solution to the growing problem of virtual keyboard phobia. It is not the design that holds it back but rather the choice of silicon that is pulling the quality down. To me the silicon feels incredibly thin and fragile. Perhaps if it was thicker and stiffer it would provide the desired tactile feedback so many of us are searching for. I could easily envision resting my hands on such a thing and getting used to working with it on a day to day basis. I am unaware if Touchfire plans to make new models in the future but if they do then I certainly hope it would incorporate substantially more silicon.
It is with a heavy heart that I deem the Touchfire iPad Keyboard a miss. In its current state it just is not a viable answer for those who want to avoid their iPad keyboard like the plague. I am positive that if Touchfire goes back to the drawing board, and improves the quality of the materials used on the device, it would be a surefire hit. For now, I am just going to stick to my handy AmazonBasics Bluetooth Keyboard.