Some things are a great idea in theory, but even a perfect execution of the idea proves it’s terrible in theory—or at least not terribly useful. That just about sums up the Qwerkywriter, a Bluetooth mechanical keyboard modeled after an antique typewriter. Paul wrote about it a year and a half ago when it was in its crowdfunding stage, and now Cory Doctorow has a review of it on BoingBoing.
In terms of design, the keyboard looks great—just the thing for re-enacting the cyberpunk future of the Max Headroom TV series, with its keyboard props made from actual antique typewriter keyboards, or pretending you’re a modern-day Archie Goodwin from Nero Wolfe. And it uses mechanical switches like the best modern computer keyboards (including the keyboard I’m typing this entry on right now). But a couple of important factors render it a little unsuitable for its intended purpose.
One big one is cost. The standard list price for the keyboard is $400, which is fine for spending on something you absolutely have to have, but a lot more than most people are going to want to spend on a Bluetooth keyboard for their tablet. (And the keyboard is meant primarily for tablets; it even includes a built-in tablet stand.)
The other big one is the size and weight factor. Most keyboards people use with tablets share the same weight and portability factors as tablets—light and easy to carry around. I currently keep not one but two Bluetooth tablet keyboards in my gadget bag—one for my Nexus 7 and one for my Fire. (It’s kind of a long story, and I plan to explain at some point when I do a review of those keyboards.) Weighing in at a little under three pounds, with dimensions of 13” x 7” x 2.5”, the Qwerkywriter is not so readily portable. What’s the use of a tablet keyboard you can’t carry around that easily?
That being said, I agree with Cory that the aesthetics of the thing are spectacular, and I wouldn’t mind having one just to be able to use it without carrying it around with me. And if the Qwerkywriter people were to send me a review unit, I promise I’d give it a full review for the site! That’s probably about the only way I’d ever get my hands on one, though, as I wouldn’t buy with my own money unless it got a whole lot cheaper.