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Ars Technica Reviews Controller Keyboard 150

phaedo00 writes "Ars Technica has reviewed the AlphaGrip AG-5 handheld keyboard and mouse. From the article: 'After lots of research and five revisions, the perfectionists at AlphaGrip finally decided that they had a product worthy of marketing, and they released the long awaited AG-5. Although the AG-5 looks strange and intimidating, it is a unique and highly innovative product that deserves consideration, particularly by mobile computing enthusiasts. The AG-5 interfaces with computers via a single removable USB cable. It uses a simple chord-like keyboarding model and an integrated trackball to provide complete keyboard and mouse functionality in a unique form factor that looks a bit like a console gaming controller.'"
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Ars Technica Reviews Controller Keyboard

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  • Cool.. So.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jupix ( 916634 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:58PM (#14934313)
    does it get you banned in WoW? :P
  • Wha huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmartens ( 721229 ) <jimmartens@noSpAm.hotmail.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:05PM (#14934397)
    Even from a person who has taught himself how to use dvorak ... that looks like a nightmare.
    • Re:Wha huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

      It does, doesn't it? Looks can be deceiving, though. TFA claims 45 wpm after a week, with a month as a more typical learning period.
      It looks fine for simple text input, actually, and maybe gaming, but I have my reservations against using this thing for Vi... I hate remapping the keys for anything more complex than a FPS, so configuring each application to avoid keys that are hard to press simultaneously sounds less than tempting. (Does anybody else here use default vim mappings with the dvorak layout, or am
  • by RunFatBoy.net ( 960072 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:06PM (#14934414)
    While most mobile users would like to have something more compact, is it really necessary to sacrafice teh productivity of a standard keyboard in order to gain a convenient, compact form factor?

    I like the promise that the virtual keyboards have (e.g. http://www.virtualdevices.net/ [virtualdevices.net] ). While functionly they have some limitations right now (e.g. having to hold your fingers about the infrared keys), over time they are going to get better. At least this solution you could have a full range keyboard without having to lug it around.

    -- Jim http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net]
    • by harrkev ( 623093 ) <kfmsd AT harrelsonfamily DOT org> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:19PM (#14934553) Homepage
      Try doing that while riding on a train, or as a passenger in a car. That invention that you pointed to ONLY works if you have a table or other flat surface in fron of you. And if you type too long on a table, your hands would likely start hurting.

      -- Now, on to other things --
      I am the proud owner of an Alphagrip. I have only spend a couple of hours with it so far, but I have an important comment that was not mentioned on TFA...

      I am a large guy. I am over six feet tall -- and I have large hands.

      I find the Alphagrip to be uncomfortable because it was designed for use by smaller hands. When I am holding it to comfortably reach the back keys, my fingers are in the wrong position to easily use the front keys. Similarly, if I can use the front keys, I have difficulty with the back keys.

      I am also not entirely sure how to hold this thing either. If it was bigger, I could press my palms against the side. However, as it is, I have to use my fingertips to hold it, which is awkward because those same fingertips are always over one button or another. If you press to hard then you get extra characters that you don't want.

      The Alphagrip seems like it has the posibility to be rather nice if it can fit you. But if you have large hands, you might want to reconsider until they make the AG-6.
      • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:45PM (#14935535) Homepage Journal
        Actually...I think the only MAJOR upgrade to the keyboard,is to do away with it totally...and have the computer somehow be connected to read your thoughts...

        Of course, this will have some drawbacks, such as when your boss walks into your office, and you forget to turn off the mindreader....and he sees over and over on the screen behind you...

        ...what a tool.

        ...what a tool.

        ...what a tool.

        ...hehehe...I boned his wife at the Xmas party while he was passed out...

        • "...hehehe...I boned his wife at the Xmas party while he was passed out..."

          was that a confession or part of what your average boss will see? o.o Presumably his wife would have to have been passed out also :s If someone is gonna 'commit' adultery then why are they still married :s *hides from people who point out that it's just a sick joke*
      • I am a large guy. I am over six feet tall -- and I have large hands. I find the Alphagrip to be uncomfortable because it was designed for use by smaller hands.

        Damnit damnit damnit. I suppose I should still try to find one in a brick'n'mortar store to try out, but still, disheartening. Although I don't have a problem with RSI (yet), I'd like to find an inexpensive keyboard to prevent it as much as possible. I'm guessing that an input device like this would help.

        And if it confounds my coworkers at the sam
      • I'm also an AlphaGrip owner, and I'm six feet five inches also with very large hands. If I keep my hands loosely wrapped around the the device (with my hands out rather than with my palms firmly against the grips) and I hold it lightly against my stomach, I don't have to tightly grip the bottom part of the device. I experimented with a couple of different hand positions, and I found that holding it like that provided the best balance of comfort and control. If you hold it that way too you probably wont get
    • is it really necessary to sacrafice teh productivity of a standard keyboard in order to gain a convenient, compact form factor?

      Uhmm.... yeah, right. Like the standard keyboard is worth more than a dime-a-dozen.

      I'm serious: I treated myself with a Kinesis Ergo Elan (http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/elan.htm [kinesis-ergo.com]), and I'm really glad I did--it's a really pleasant keyboard to work with. I only noticed when I first used a standard keyboard after adapting to using the Ergo Elan--not only did it feel uncomfortable, it
  • more sense to try to sort of roll the traditional keyboard into that shape, so you're using the same fingers a different way? like have 3+ positions for each finger, so the bottom of the controller would have 3 buttons QAZ on one side and P:? on the other?

    • Funny, this was the same thought I had! They could have leveraged the muscle memory of touch typers (who, let's face it, have to be the target audience, since hunt & peck requires turning the device back and forth to find keys).

      However, they don't promise that this keyboard will make you a faster typer than a standard keyboard (just handheld ones); but they promise that it frees you from your desk and reduces RSI.

      Personally, I'd rather stay lashed to my desk and have pedals for the modifier keys (shift
  • by Dekortage ( 697532 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:08PM (#14934432) Homepage

    This would eliminate the only exercise they get (typing!). Besides, it requires TWO HANDS.

    Also, from the article: If we are successful, the AG-5 will turn out to be just a glimpse of the future of desk-free computing. Desk-free? Where am I going to put my coffee cup?

    • by mrsev ( 664367 ) <mrsev@nosPam.spymac.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:17PM (#14934527)
      Your two hands comment is actually very correct. This many provide a useful tool for people who type alot of the time in a "conventional" manner but most of the time I am doing other things with one of my hands (I can predict the replies to this part of my comment). I like to eat, drink, hold up a piece of paper or hold one of my kids on my lap. Plus my kids will be pissed that it does not seem to be able fit their hands very well.

      On the whole a good idea and a great device for alot of people but not for me.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    'I can comfortably compute while reclining in my chair, and I no longer have to lean forward to type, a feature that is particularly nice when I'm doing lots of web browsing.'
  • by solarbob ( 959948 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:10PM (#14934457) Homepage
    ...Is how is it going to effect people with RSI. Having something which looks relativly heavy and having to hold it up for a longish period at a time isn't going to be good for your wrists (not that a keyboard is much better tbh)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It seems to me that without wireless support via Bluetooth (not the USB wireless that they promise real soon now), this keyboard/controller's usefulness is decreased quite a bit.

    I might be open to switching to an alternate input device, but only if I'll be able to use it with my other devices (PDA, cell phone, etc.)

    Also, I fear my vi productivity will decrease dramatically with this device...
  • .. but I'm still waiting for this thing to come out: http://www.artlebedev.com/portfolio/optimus/ [artlebedev.com]
  • by daddyrief ( 910385 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:13PM (#14934495) Homepage
    That thing looks like a beast.

    This is Offtopic, but maybe someone here would know...

    I've been looking to get a chord keyset similar to the 5-key style that Engelbart created. Picture. [artmuseum.net] I vaguely remember seeing one or two products when i looked a few months back, but nowhere could i find a purchase link.

    I guess the question is: does anyone know where i could buy a chord keyset? Maybe some uber-nerdy slashdotter has one laying around i can buy?
    • BAT Keyboard [infogrip.com] I used these for a while but gave them up in favor of a dvorak kinesis contour. They are great if you do a lot of CAD, diagramming, or anything else that requires lots of mousing and typing since you can keep one hand on the keyboard and one on the mouse. I suppose they would be awesome for games but I'm not much of a gamer.

      Downsides: The idiots STILL have not figured out how to generate the Mac command key and that is a large reason why I gave them up. The travel of the keys is too far s
    • Cykey http://www.bellaire.demon.co.uk/newcykey.htm [demon.co.uk]

      I have one here, it's a bit of a pain with IR connection, but once you have the receiver set up it works fine.

      The chording style they use here took me literally an hour to learn ~22 letters of the alphabet on, which matched the claim on the manual :-)

      I still have their Excellent 1990 PDA, the AgendA http://www.bellaire.demon.co.uk/cykey.htm [demon.co.uk]
  • ICK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:14PM (#14934511) Homepage
    I had to learn the Handeykey Twiddler [handykey.com] for my foray into the world of wearable computing and it was a PITA to learn. But it at least let me do it one handed and at a somewhat decent rate. This thing looks really awkward to use no matter what you do.

    None of these alternative keybards have any real benefits. The twiddler was close as you could type while walking down the street or listening during a class without getting everyone's attention. This thing will get professors glaring at you.
  • The trackball problem [I had] may not affect all users

    I think it just did.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:18PM (#14934542) Homepage
    Chording keyboards hae been since the invention of the stenotype machine in the late 1800s, enabling those willing to master what the Ars Technica article calls a "steep learning curve" to attain speeds of 225 wpm or about three times the speed of a comparably skilled typist.

    They were an integral part of Engelbart's conception--the mouse was intended for use with a five-key chording keyboard.

    There is nothing about them that is very difficult or expensive to manufacture. (In fact, common sense says that all things being equal a device with a dozen or so buttons ought to cost less than one with a hundred).

    This one must be about the tenth that's made it to the point of being manufactured and sold to the general PC-using public, several marketed at the height of concern about RSI with reasonable evidence that they would be less stressful to use than conventional keyboards.

    None of 'em have ever come close to catching on.

    Chalk up chording keyboards with leap-week calendars or decimal time or the Single Tax. Ain't gonna happen.
    • Will you dumb geeks stop discussing the metaphysical implications of this device? That thing is the ugliest piece of crap I've ever seen.
    • The biggest problem w/ chordal input or any non-standard input device is that it's non-standard. The operating system and applications will not be designed with that input device in mind. They won't be widely available.

      Chordal input could be popularized by someone who builds both the input device and the OS & application stack. The only environments that I think could... uh... incubate such a snowball would be a console or cell phone company. Not Windows or Mac OS computers.
      • I'd quite like a bluetooth chorded keyboard that I could keep in my pocket and use for jotting down notes, or writing while walking. I don't really see the advantage of them when stationary, however.
        • Yes! I would pay £200 for something like that. I did notice you could get an IR virtual keyboard for ~£100 these days, but you won't always have a flat surface.

          I think a palm-sized device with chording keys built in to the edge could be a killer piece of hardware.

          Still waiting for a modern device with a Qwerty keyboard as good as the Psion 5MX...
      • Actually, that doesn't matter, so as long as the device outputs standard scancodes via the PS/2 or USB interfaces. The input device itself will make sure that it will work properly with whatever hardware it's connected to, so as long as it has a standard input port (again, PS/2 or USB).

        Chording devices aren't widely *popular* because of the steep learinging curve, not because of them not being packaged with some other complete hardware solution. Honestly, if there was a chording input device for a gaming
        • most console games use some element of chording to make up for the lack of buttons (you could even say a standard keyboard is a chording device because of modifier keys I guess). A game/console maker could easily make a configuration where you could chord type using a controller, but on a console it is pretty pointless

          And what the grandparent said about Apple not being able to do this isn't true, because they *do* make their own hardware also.
          • Of course Apple chooses their own hardware and software, but that obviously isn't the only constraint. Apple would have considerable trouble marketting a complete switch from the 105 key keyboard to chordal input. Just like Windows, Mac OS has been designed around the concept of a 105 key keyboard and a mouse.

            They could make a portable electronic device with a completely different interface, and that people might be willing to learn chordal input that way, but Apple doesn't have many special powers here w.r
            • basically chordal input seems very pointless for a desktop machine, I agree that it is more likely to work for a portable machine, though I still think the learning curve wouldnt be worth it, and the speed would be pretty terrible. I like having lots of keys available for things like gaming etc anyway. I wouldnt say Windows or Mac OS have been designed around a 105 key keyboard, I'd say they'd been designed around devices that can input character data, but there's no requirement as to what that device is,
    • If you had read the article you would see this isn't a chording keyboard, infact the button placements are almost identical to that of qwerty except its wrapped around a control pad. The fingers you use to type qwerty are the same fingers you use to type with this.
    • Do you have any references for the 225 wpm/3x figure?

      I am interested in these alternative input devices, and even willing to invest some time and effort into practicing with one, but only if there is a payoff in speed. My typing speed on a standard qwerty is pretty decent, around 60 wpm. Any new input device has to offer the potential of beating that for it to be worthwhile. Speed is everything.

      The wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] on AlphaGrip says: "According to the site, users can achieve approximately 50 or more

    • Chording keyboards hae been since the invention of the stenotype machine in the late 1800s, enabling those willing to master what the Ars Technica article calls a "steep learning curve" to attain speeds of 225 wpm or about three times the speed of a comparably skilled typist.

      How many people can think at 225 wpm? How many people can sustain clear and coherent thinking at 225 wpm? I type as I hear the words in my head so I can be reasonably sure that I'm not skipping anything; what's the point of communica

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:19PM (#14934546)
    I can consistently achieve about 45 words per minute with the AG-5 (vs. 65wpm on a traditional keyboard), and I think that with more experience I could probably exceed 50. My typing speed on the AG-5 is apparently not indicative of the average user experience. I suppose my pedantically compulsive nature and capacity for data retention made it easier for me to assimilate the layout.

    This just in: The AG-5 is the 'keyboard' of choice for robots, androids, and borg the world over!
  • I am not sure if the learning curve would be all that bad. Notice that it is set up to utilize the "home row" style of typing on a QWERTY keyboard. I think that its actually pretty cool and would definitely cut down on the carpal tunnel.

    - Andrew
  • Looks good for VR (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:20PM (#14934563)
    Using the headtracking on my Z800 [3dvisor.com] to full effect has been a challenge, since I have been largely stuck using the keyboard for FPS gaming. But this thing could really give me some extra freedom of movement. Just need a long enough USB cable and I should be able to manage the cables well enough to do a few 360 degree turns without getting too tangled.

    I tried a wireless programmable controller, but the batteries didn't last very long and their seemed to be some latency. This thing should provide all the keyboard commands you could ever need.
  • In 1874 a company called Sholes and Glidden developed the QWERTY keyboard layout for their typewriters in order to decrease the frequency of mechanical failure.

    Stop [earthlink.net] Propogating [straightdope.com] Myths [independent.org]

    • They aren't guilty (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hakubi_Washu ( 594267 ) <robert.kostenNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:50PM (#14934886)
      Read the first article again. They said it was invented to reduce mechanical failure (no word about typing speed), which is exactly what that article states it was for.
    • You might want to read those articles and the quote you are trying to refute. The QWERTY keyboard was designed to decrease the frequency of mechanical failure .. assuming you referr to a head jam as a "failure".

      If you've ever used a typewriter with hammers you can attest that even with the design as it is, it's pretty easy to end up with a jam.
    • What myths?

      None of the links you provide contradict the claim in the cite.

      "Decrease the frequency of mechanical failure" and "slow typists down" are not necessarily the same goal.
    • Actually, your links don't dispute the parent's statement. QWERTY was created to reduce mechanical failures as its primary design goal. The myths involved in the QWERTY design are:

      1. QWERTY was arranged to slow the typist down as the solution to the mechanical problem.
      2. DVORAK is faster, but the lack of DVORAK typists and the lack of machines led to a chicken and egg problem.

      In fact, your links point out that:

      1. QWERTY was actually designed so typing common English letter combinations wouldn't cause
    • by tyme ( 6621 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:16PM (#14935199) Homepage Journal
      demon411 [slashdot.org] wrote:
      "In 1874 a company called Sholes and Glidden developed the QWERTY keyboard layout for their typewriters in order to decrease the frequency of mechanical failure."

      Stop [earthlink.net] Propogating [straightdope.com] Myths [independent.org]

      What are you talking about? According an article [earthlink.net] referenced from your first link [earthlink.net]:
      The first typewriter had its letters on the end of rods called "typebars." The typebars hung in a circle. The roller which held the paper sat over this circle, and when a key was pressed, a typebar would swing up to hit the paper from underneath. If two typebars were near each other in the circle, they would tend to clash into each other when typed in succession. So, Sholes figured he had to take the most common letter pairs such as "TH" and make sure their typebars hung at safe distances.

      He did this using a study of letter-pair frequency prepared by educator Amos Densmore, brother of James Densmore, who was Sholes' chief financial backer. The QWERTY keyboard itself was determined by the existing mechanical linkages of the typebars inside the machine to the keys on the outside. Sholes' solution did not eliminate the problem completely, but it was greatly reduced.

      The keyboard arrangement was considered important enough to be included on Sholes' patent granted in 1878 (see drawing [earthlink.net]), some years after the machine was into production. QWERTY's effect, by reducing those annoying clashes, was to speed up typing rather than slow it down.

      This indicates that the QWERTY layout is a direct result of the inventor attempting to prevent mechanical jams in the device. The submitter of the article wrote:
      In 1874 a company called Sholes and Glidden developed the QWERTY keyboard layout for their typewriters in order to decrease the frequency of mechanical failure.

      The myth to which you are alluding, however, is that Sholes developed the QWERTY layout to decrease the speed of typists (admittedly, to prevent the same jamming of typebars), when, in fact, the QWERTY layout acheived exactly the opposite effect (it allowed typists to type faster because jamming was less likely). The submitter is not claiming that Sholes was trying to slow down the typists (a myth) but that he was trying to reduce typebar jams (the truth).
  • I've been keeping an eye on these guys for a quite a while now. My wife ordered me one for my birthday, and it arrives today! Did we time this right or what?
  • Good god, my wrists shattered just looking at that thing.

    There's a need for some kind of new input device, but I dont think this is it.
  • by haplo21112 ( 184264 ) <haploNO@SPAMepithna.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:09PM (#14935120) Homepage
    I got one of these controllers. I have played with it a little its definately only for those that can seriously learn to touch type. Since many of the buttons are not at all in sight you really have to learn the keyboard. Over all its comfortable, but I feel that more than one size would have been better. The shipping model is more suitable for the average hand. A smaller hand could problay learn to work with it. My medium-large hands are pretty much at the limit of comfortable use. If you have large hands the buttons are not going to be anyplace near your finger tips.

    The keyboard makes extensive use of shift buttons to accomplish things. Get used to some finger acrobatics. I still have not quite got the hang of Control-Alt-Delete on this thing.

    The Built in Mouse....

    Personally this is the one true downfall in my opinion. The roller ball is WAY to small, and its far far far to slow it takes me far far to many rolls over the ball to get the mouse around even a 1024/768 acreen, never mind the 1280/1024 I typically run at. The performance in games (The reason I originally thought this might be a useful product) is basically worthless at this point. I went so far as to hack the registry to increase the mouse responsiveness to the maximum allowable, a setting you can't even do in the crontrol panel applet. The mouse still isn't acceptably responsive. In fact it seemed barley changed on the AG-5 despite the fact that another mouse on the same machine now zips the cursor accross the machine so fast you have to take a second after the movement to find it again.
  • May not be ergonomic (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tihstae ( 86842 ) <Tihstae@gmail.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:18PM (#14935222) Homepage
    From the website http://www.alphagrips.com/store/shopping.html [alphagrips.com]

    "The AlphaGrip may not be ergonomic. The company has not conducted the requisite studies to make that determination."
    • Might as well say "The AlphaGrip may be a worthless geek-toy that is not superior in any way to a plain keyboard. The company has not conducted the requisite studies to make that determination."
    • This was obviously written by the lawyers. Pretty meaningless.

      Notice that most input devices you buy these days comes with a little leaflet on ergonomics that nobody reads. Why do they bother? Because when you get RSI and sue them, they can say, "Hey, did you read the leaflet?"

  • For some reason it seems to me that using a device other than microphone is too much... why work so hard to go from one handheld device to another? I'm not advocating for brain implants (the ultimate in hands free computing), but voice control is a nice medium. Hands free + surgery free ;) Complex key combos can be shortened to a word or two... no more RSI... plus it frees up both hands............
  • ...for an alternative keyboard that rivals the now-deceased TouchStream. This one doesn't look like it'll do the job, although it does at least combine keyboard and mouse...

    (If you've never used integrated keyboard/mouse input, you're missing out. Text editing, in particular, benefits hugely. Some things are far easier to do with the mouse, but power users stick to the keyboard to avoid the switch time.)

  • by Tech ( 15191 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:24PM (#14935305) Homepage
    The problem with all of these chorded keyboard replacements - including this one - is that they are mostly useless for anyone with fewer than five working fingers [*] on each hand, either accidentally or from birth. And a person with the normal allocation of fingers who temporarily loses use of one, due to an injury for example, would have to revert to the standard keyboard which, happily, is still entirely functional - albeit slower. I would be very interested to see more designs of alternative input devices that can accommodate temporary and permanent disabilities.

    [*] Ignoring the thumb-vs-finger debate.
  • by Gulik ( 179693 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:44PM (#14935521)
    I'm not being sarcastic here -- I'm honestly not sure what group of users is being targetted here. It seems that the only people who might find this useful are people who don't have a flat surface in front of them to rest a keyboard on. That might be laptop users, but if there's nowhere to rest the laptop, you can't use it anyway -- and while it can be argued that typing on the laptop while it's sitting on your lap is uncomfortable, I'm not sure balancing the laptop using only your knees while holding this thing over it is going to be any better. So, if not laptop users, then PDA users -- except this thing is larger than most of the PDAs commonly in use. Tablet users walking around the shop floor? If you're using both hands to hold the controller, what's holding up the tablet?

    This is an honest question: who is this thing for?
    • Tablet users walking around the shop floor?

      Exactly. That's how I use it.

      If you're using both hands to hold the controller, what's holding up the tablet?

      I wear a special lectern-like structure and try to remain aroused all the time. It's hard work, but on the other hand, I've become very popular.
    • Which is more comfortable, cradling a gamepad, or reaching out to a keyboard and mouse, the right hand often switching back and forth between them? If you said gamepad, maybe you can imagine how this product or its successor would be excellent.
      • Hm. Yeah, okay, I'll buy that. It wouldn't be my preference (most of the tasks I do daily are either keyboard-dominant where I don't have to reach for the trackball very often, or vice-versa), but I can certainly see how someone who did a lot of mixed work could prefer this kind of keyboard. Thankee kindly.
  • Console controllers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @03:08PM (#14935762)
    I really wish that somebody would make a console controller similar to the Xbox 360 controller, with the right analog stick replaced by a trackball. Using an analog stick for moving a pointer or your player's view in a first-person shooter is just terrible. Having a trackball would be much better for such actions. Also, with such a change, the controller would have 3 direction controls: D-pad, analog stick, and trackball. Each have proven themselves to be useful for certain game tasks, so why not make them all available at the same time?
  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @03:09PM (#14935775)
    I really like this device, except for the mouse. That trackball seems worthless. Even if the sensitivity issues were solved, it still occupies a thumb, which is already an overemployed digit with all the chords it needs to participate in. Also, I have no hope that a thumb-controlled wheel could be both fast and accurate enough to use in a game.

    But we already have a solution: the Nintendo Revolution!

    The idea is simple: you move the mouse cursor through tilting the device. It requires no extra buttons and is perfectly natural and intuitive, since you're already holding the thing in the air. Basically, it would be a pointing device that you could really point with. Finally, you could mouse around without interrupting your typing! There would be all sorts of ways the device could detect its orientation. I'm not sure which method will be best, though the Nintendo Revolution controller will probably provide us with good clues. So why not build the innards of the Revolution controller inside of this keyboard? Apart from being useful for living room applications, it would just be awesome for games! Consider for example a game like GTA where you turn the car's steering wheel by tilting the controller!

    If these guys don't build that in, I hope someone else does. Hell, I'd pay $200 for a wireless tilt-driven one of these (that fits large hands).

    • Actually this has been done before nintendo. It's called the gryo mouse. http://www.gyration.com/en-US [gyration.com]
      • Nice! It really seems like the two technologies are perfect for each other! I'm a bit skeptical about letting gyros do all the work because I expect them to drift and not know how to re-zero. Still if these GyroMouse guys solved this problem, AlphaGrip should just borrow their solution. A more accurate way for the thing to become aware of its position is to install several mini-cameras that take pictures of the room and from these (plus gyro data) work out exactly which way the device is facing.
  • Oh, sure, give it a USB plug and let it run off computer power if you need to, but with bluetooth out there, why in the world would you make a handheld device in a corded-only model?

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.