Small Screens, Big Fingers

In the age of the smartphone, tablet, and other touch screen electronic devices, is this the end of the physical (non-virtual) keyboard?

I recently noticed a clue to the answer when shopping for a tablet device. Many of the manufacturers offered cases that came bundled with USB keyboards.  Presumably they were responding to demand.

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer is one of many touch screen tablets that offers the option of an attachable keyboard. Maybe old habits die hard, or maybe people prefer the robust feeling of tapping on a keyboard, compared to the flat tactile experience of an on-screen keyboard?

Size matters.  Trying to navigate a touch screen on a mobile phone can be frustrating.  It’s not so bad if you have the dainty hands of a small child, but tricky for those, like me, with bigger digits.

At least screen sizes are increasing on smart phones — e.g. the Galaxy S2 has a 4.3” inch screen —  but I find I can still only comfortably use the keyboard only in landscape orientation, and it’s irksome when there is a lag.

The design of smartphones is such that we tend to type with our thumbs. The inherent problem with such a design, of course, is that our thumbs are bigger than our other fingers, and more “clumsy” when there is little space in which to manoeuvre.

Maybe, to provide a small-screen typing solution, it’s not the virtual keypad but the physical device that needs to be redesigned.In the meantime, I’m tempted by that USB keyboard.