Mobile Devices and Input Accessories

The iPad has sparked renewed interest in detachable keyboards, but to the surprise of folks who know me (and my attachment to physical keyboards on mobile devices) I’m not on board. I’ve been down this road before, with the Newton, the Stowaway keyboard for the Palm V series and the clip-on keyboard for the Palm i705.

I know it sounds useful, and it seems cool at first, but it’s fraught with fail. It’s the same sort of thing as a bluetooth mouse for a laptop – you’re better off getting a laptop with an input device you can use and not needing the mouse.

The keyboard on the iPad is fine for causal use, and that’s what it’s intended for. Don’t be the guy toting around an iPad and a bluetooth keyboard for it (or worse, for your iPhone). If you want to do serious keyboarding, you’ve got a laptop.

Docking is different – you don’t carry the kit around, you just use it when you are at the device’s primary location. I think the iPad keyboard dock makes some sense here, and it’s a step towards the natural evolution of a more traditional computer running the iPhone OS.

But the idea of traveling with an iPad and a keyboard is just wrong.