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CES: Trewgrip mobile QWERTY hands-on review

Failed Kickstarter project looks to turn mobile typing on its head
Mon Jan 06 2014, 11:56

LAS VEGAS: CES NEVER LETS US DOWN when it comes to delivering odd, often ridiculous, pieces of technology. The award for the most bizarre bit of kit we've seen so far goes to the Trewgrip mobile QWERTY, a failed Kickstarter campaign that looks to turn typing on smartphones and tablets on its head.

The product is still in the prototype stage, with the firm telling The INQUIRER that it hopes to get the device on shelves before the year is out. However, we managed to get some hands-on time with the latest Trewgrip mobile QWERTY keyboard, and it's fair to say that we're not fully convinced yet.

First off, the design. Makers of Bluetooth keyboards for mobile devices seemingly have been striving to make their add-ons smaller and smaller, but that's not the case with the Trewgrip. The device is simply massive, and it's fair to say we wouldn't feel comfortable using it on the London Underground, for example.

Truegrip mobile QWERTY at CES 2014

It's quite heavy too, although we did find it oddly comfortable to hold. It's pretty cool to look at too, with the device featuring colorful grip pads on the side, and quirky lighted buttons on the front, which glow green when a key is tapped on the rear of the device.

Right now you're probably thinking, "What?!" So were we when we first spotted the device in Las Vegas. Yes, you have to type backwards on the Trewgrip. On the bottom of the device is a full QWERTY keypad made up of soft, tactile buttons, which felt quite satisfying to press, when we managed to hit the right one.

We did have a fair bit of trouble when it came to hitting the right keys, as Trewgrip doesn't adopt a traditional QWERTY keyboard layout. Instead, the traditional QWERTY layout has been sliced in half and turned on its side, which means that it will take a while to get used to, although there are corresponding letters and numbers on the front of the device.

Truegrip mobile QWERTY rear

According to the firm behind it, it will take around "a week" to master it fully, which given that the business people the device is aimed at are unlikely to have that much free time, could be one of the gadget's major downfalls.

As for device's compatibility, the Trewgrip will work with iOS and Android devices, although it can only support 7in tablets, due to the size of the dock in the middle of the keys, which securely holds a device using a suction method.

So, has Trewgrip finally nailed an alternative to onscreen typing? We're not convinced, largely due to the gadget's awkward size and how tricky it is to master typing on it.

That said, the mobile QWERTY keyboard is still in the early prototype stages, so we'll be sure to keep an eye on the company. µ


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