There was a draft of this post that had been waiting to be published on this blog for over four and a half months ago. It’s time to post it and provide a four-month update.
“I’m still waiting for my WayTools TextBlade multi-touch keyboard that I ordered back in January, 2015. The company said that they would ship in February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and now mid-October. Unexpected hardware changes and revisions to firmware are the reasons for the delay, but WayTools keeps telling its customers that shipments are right around the corner. I’ll believe it when the TextBlades ship. Other customers are getting restless, judging from the increase in the amount of order cancellations and disappointed posts on the WayTools forum. The company has not done itself any favors with its passive aggressive attitude on the forums and its habit of cancelling orders for those customers who complain too much.”
As a way to pass the time, I drew a twelve-month calendar for 2016 called, Waiting for TextBlade.
It’s now mid-February, and the TextBlade remains an elusive product for customers. At the end of December, 2015, the company released the companion app for the keyboard on the iOS App Store, which gave hope that they would ship in January. Then, at the end of January, WayTools announced the Test Release Group (TREG), which is a shipment of pre-release TextBlades to a small group of customers (hundreds). The TREG is designed “to accelerate validation and help refine the product quality and experience.” WayTools also noted yet another hardware problem with the shield layer (that protects against leaking electrical noise) that they would be fixing.
I was one of the earliest orders of the TextBlade (January 13, 2015). Like many others, I was led to believe that the product was in “mass production” and would be shipping in February, 2015. While the delays have been unfortunate, I’m more disappointed in the way that WayTools has gone about communicating these delays to its customers. If one did not frequent the forum, one would be clueless as to what’s happening with the product and why it has yet to ship. The ordering system always says that new orders will be fulfilled in 2-3 months after WayTools has fulfilled its backlog of orders. It’s been doing this since the delays started a year ago!
A few forum members have been admitted to the TREG, but I have not.
Originally, I was going to wait until they shipped, because early adopters were going to get a “substantial gift.” I also said to myself that with the 30-day money back guarantee, I can always return the product if I didn’t like it. Then, as the delays mounted, I said I would wait until my year purchase anniversary arrived before cancelling. Of course, then they announced the TREG, and I found myself thinking, “Well, I’ve waited this long. Might as well apply for the TREG so I can get an advanced preview of the product.” Now, even that doesn’t look likely to happen.
With all that said, I’m cancelling my order today. What changed to push me over the edge?
I’ve grown tired of WayTools dangling the carrot in front of me. Even if the TREG is real and shipments will be going out to testers in the next two weeks, it might still be two to three months before real customers get their product. What’s the point of the TREG if WayTools is not going to use their feedback to further tweak and refine the product?
The appeal of the TextBlade to me has been in its extreme portability. It’s smaller than any portable keyboard out there, and it promised to operate just as well as a normal sized keyboard with its patented multitouch keys. The operative word here is “promise.” I’ve purchased a lot of technology in the past that promised to do wonders for my productivity, only to end up in my computer junk bin after a few months or years. Would the TextBlade share the same fate? By cancelling now, I’ll get my money back. I will let the early adopters use the TextBlade, whenever it ships, and figure out if it’s a worthy purchase. If so, I will consider getting one.
In the meantime, I purchased the well-regarded Logitech K811 Easy-Switch Keyboard off of eBay, and it will be arriving next week. It’s smaller than my Logitech K760 Solar Powered Keyboard, is rechargeable via USB, and has backlit keys. I thought about getting the Apple Magic Keyboard, but decided against it because it doesn’t offer the ability to switch between multiple devices with the push of a button. Sure, the K811 is bigger than the TextBlade, and it won’t fit in my pocket. But, the product exists today, and it’s a full-sized keyboard that I’m used to. The iPad Pro’s virtual keyboard is the best one that I’ve used yet, and I don’t mind it for typing on-the-go. If I want to use an external keyboard, I’ll use my K760, K811, or even the original iPad Keyboard Dock. I might even get an old Griffin iMate and dig out an ADB keyboard to connect to my iOS devices.
I’ve done fine with regular keyboards in my computing life thus far. I think I’ll do just fine without the TextBlade.