Rants, Technology

Cancelling my WayTools TextBlade Order

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.

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.

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Comics, Technology

Waiting for TextBlade 2016 Calendar

One year ago, an early press release arrived in my inbox from a company called WayTools. It was poised to announce a revolutionary keyboard called the TextBlade. There was scant additional information on the keyboard, and it wasn’t until one month later on January 13, 2015, that the company unveiled its product website. The TextBlade is a multitouch keyboard that collapses into a pocketable form factor. The keyboard looked to be a great accessory for those that travel frequently who want the feel of a full-size keyboard in a tiny package.

textblade-product-shot

In both the original press releases, WayTools said that TextBlades were entering mass production and would be available in February. Nearly a year later, however, no production TextBlades have reached customers’ hands. Every month, I went to look for a status update at the end of the month, only to see the date for shipping pushed back another month. February became March, which became April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and now December. As of today, the company has not provided a status update on its blog or on its forum in weeks.

What’s the cause for the delays? There’s a litany of hardware and firmware problems on WayTool’s self-described punch list, ranging from the molds for the keycaps being too stiff, over-the-air firmware update bugs, and the occasional (and hard to reproduce) key repeating phenomenon. On WayTool’s forum, two camps have formed, one continuing to encourage WayTools to release a (near) perfect product, and another that just wants the company to ship the d*mn keyboard already. The latter group is also disappointed that WayTools charged their credit cards on order, even though no product has shipped for months. There are examples of people who complained loudly, only to have WayTools cancel their orders for them. In my opinion, customer service at WayTools — at least on the forum — has been especially lacking in tact and manners.

I’ve taken my Logitech K760 Solar Powered Keyboard with me on trips before and wished for something more portable. The TextBlade looked like an intriguing solution, and I was happy to give them $100 for the keyboard. As the year anniversary of the product’s announcement comes up in less than a month, I find my fingers hovering over the cancellation/refund button. What has kept me from cancelling thus far is that I was one of the first people to pony up money for the TextBlade. WayTools has said the earliest orders would get a “substantial” gift. But, I have to draw a line in the sand at some point. So, if WayTools doesn’t ship the TextBlade by the middle of January, I’m out.

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In the meantime, I drew the following illustrations using my new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. This 2016 Calendar take a sometimes humorous, sometimes sad look at the tardiness of the TextBlade product. Which one is your favorite? Tell me by leaving a comment below!

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