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Microsoft Shows Tablet With 'RearType Keyboard'

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 59 comments

Bye-bye touchscreen!

Microsoft Research is showing off RearType, a tablet with a full QWERTY keyboard on the back of the device. The setup is designed to allow for easy typing when using a touchscreen device and is an interesting mix of split keyboards (which we're all familiar with) and rear-input methods.

We've seen rear input systems before. In fact, judging from patents filed by Apple and Samsung, it may not be long before we see an iPod Nano with a touch sensitive controls on the back, and a Samsung tablet with a second screen on the rear of the device. However, we haven't seen one quite like this before.

Microsoft Research has split the traditional QWERTY keyboard and rotated it so that when you grip the tablet and touch the buttons on the back, your fingers are still resting on the same keys as a traditional QWERTY.

Obviously, a device like this would take some getting used to, but Microsoft Research says that after an hour of practice using special training software, users got up to a speed of about 15 WPM, which is comparable to what users with a touchscreen can achieve.

Do you think this is a good solution to the fact that in these very touchy-feely times, many people are having trouble with onscreen keyboards, or missing the tactile feedback from buttons? Let us know in the comments below!

(via CrunchGear)

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    ZaKa , August 12, 2010 12:32 AM
    Can't rotate the tablet.
  • 12 Hide
    Anonymous , August 12, 2010 12:28 AM
    In true MS fashion, the tagline for this would be something like "Use your fingers on your rear today!"...
Other Comments
  • -5 Hide
    dman3k , August 12, 2010 12:25 AM
    what? and I thought M$ is championing voice recognition.
  • Display all 59 comments.
  • 12 Hide
    Anonymous , August 12, 2010 12:28 AM
    In true MS fashion, the tagline for this would be something like "Use your fingers on your rear today!"...
  • 7 Hide
    stingstang , August 12, 2010 12:29 AM
    Over complicating a simple problem. Besides, the guy in the picture is holding it wrong.
  • 20 Hide
    ZaKa , August 12, 2010 12:32 AM
    Can't rotate the tablet.
  • 8 Hide
    haunted one , August 12, 2010 12:32 AM
    These days, companies are just creating as many different products as possible without giving sufficient thought to their potential use, market niche and actual usability. Using this device would be very uncomfortable. Gripping with my thumb and typing on the back with my fingers? Keyboard + screen = netbook. There's no need for this.
  • 4 Hide
    Supertrek32 , August 12, 2010 12:48 AM
    15 WPM. And are these people touch typists on regular keyboards? That's kinda of a big factor.
  • 4 Hide
    nforce4max , August 12, 2010 12:51 AM
    This will fail....
  • 0 Hide
    drutort , August 12, 2010 1:05 AM
    it might work im sure they wont have such big and ugly keys on the back... and nobody yet knows how it feels while typing might be better off with a touch sensitive with maybe a little response at press would work...

    still though would take some time to get used to
  • 1 Hide
    serkol , August 12, 2010 1:20 AM
    Is this a joke?
  • 2 Hide
    joex444 , August 12, 2010 1:21 AM
    As long as we're making hidden keyboards, why not go with dvorak?
  • 2 Hide
    MRiddickW , August 12, 2010 1:36 AM
    I don't know that I'd buy it, but I would definitely like to try it. It looks interesting.
  • 1 Hide
    jeffk464 , August 12, 2010 1:40 AM
    why not make a keyboard that folds down and away from the screen. The keyboard could also prop up the screen so you don't have sit there and hold it.
  • 0 Hide
    mdillenbeck , August 12, 2010 1:40 AM
    The old TC 1100 had it right - you make a keyboard unit that doubles as a tablet stand and a screen cover when transporting it. That would be much more useful - and if they didn't use a dock connector but a USB cable, then they could make the stand work for portrait and landscape mode...

    ...or they could just put in the the excellent Windows 7 inking option. (Yeah, I said it again.)
  • -3 Hide
    christopherknapp , August 12, 2010 1:48 AM
    And people make fun of Apple?

    And this is pure GOLD, Jerry!
  • 0 Hide
    WR , August 12, 2010 1:53 AM
    15 wpm after a whole hour of practice? Must be from how awkward it would be to grip the tablet. I remember faring better while new to the iPhone... that's using two thumbs.
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , August 12, 2010 1:56 AM
    Uh...I'm not liking this for some reason.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 12, 2010 2:00 AM
    I love stories that startle me and make me think " I didn't realize it was April 1st again!"

    Well done Microsoft, you got me again!
  • 0 Hide
    tethoma , August 12, 2010 2:03 AM
    Microsoft has the worst interface and usability development department. I hate to say this, but they need to take a page from Apple in this area they are the WORST at.
  • 2 Hide
    jhansonxi , August 12, 2010 2:03 AM
    They didn't want to be accused of copying the iPad so they based it on an accordion. I could see a music app for that.
  • 1 Hide
    darthvidor , August 12, 2010 2:09 AM
    they should have designed the keys differently ... looks like a typewriter. what happens to "press any key to continue hdd wipe" when you suddenly put the tablet down?
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