I’ve been writing about Kickstarter a lot. Here’s a product that isn’t still in a state of research or experimental no-man’s-land. It passed through Kickstarter with flying colors, has paid back investors and is, dare I be so bold, American and totally cool! The Touchfire Keyboard for the iPad is a silicone overlay that secures directly to your iPad display and provides physical feedback as you type.
Previous to this I had tried out Zaggfolio, and while that is also a pretty functional and practical machine, it tends to add a significant amount of thickness and weight to the iPad package. As I bought the iPad and its accouterments for the very purpose of traveling light, the Zaggfolio was not nearly what I wanted. Then, like the good mid-western tech critic that I am, I checked my email and found a message from the Touchfire guy I met at CES. Three days later, I received a tiny, compact shipping box, 10x5x1.
Inside the box was an intuitively designed, trifold instruction sheet running the length of the keyboard container, providing everything you need, directions for installation, ease of use and cleaning. Under the instruction sheet is a black storage case where the Touchfire is stored. Under the storage case are extra adhesive stickers and a caution sheet. It’s extremely lightweight with strong magnets at its corners. Shockingly, it didn’t seem durable at all.
Remove the adhesive back on the two top cover clips and place them on the Touchfire. You then position the Touchfire on your iPad display before closing the Smart Cover so that the top cover clips attach themselves to the underbelly of your Smart Cover. Baarra-bing! Barra-boom! You’re done with that.
The magic of Magnets keeps the Touchfire in place along its four outer corners along with a long magnet positioned below the space bar, in line with the right side of the iPad display. When you want to use the Touchfire, hold down the silicone flap that extends from behind the Smart Cover. Hold it down while you open your Smart Cover. Now all you need to do is adjust positioning to suit your preferences and predilections. If you have the keyboard in place and want to stop entering text and use the full display, then you simply grab the top two clips before folding the Touchfire down on itself, so that the magnets keep it out of the way.
Read your instruction sheet before and watch the video before using the Touchfire as it will explain everything clearly and help you get setup properly. Each key has four cells that are used to help give you physical feedback and travel as you press down. You’ll hear a soft sound as you press each key, which helps you get used to the process. The excellent iOS autocorrect system is still used too so you can just keep on going and trust the iPad to pick up a letter or two as you roll along while also counting on smart period insertion. The return key has two squares and the two shift keys have no four cell backing. There is no raised area along the bottom row that covers the space bar, letter/symbol toggle, mic button, and keyboard toggle. You can still activate screen elements through the keyboard too if you are not actively entering text. Bottom line now is that you will no longer feel like your pinkie finger is extraneous or that you own the hands of a leper as you struggle to repeatedly stop yourself from hitting more than one key at a time. The fact is that I now use the Touchfire exclusively. It is refreshing to have a nice and light solution back on my iPad that still helps me enter text at a much faster pace than when I just use the onscreen keyboard.
Now, when I use the iPad keyboard without the Touchfire I have to consciously look at the keyboard to find each key. The Touchfire allows me to place my fingers in position and type away without looking at the keys while staying focused on the area above the keyboard where I am entering text. A great product you’ll get addicted to, I warn you!