Keyboards concepts are here!

Hello community!

First of all, wow. The number of ideas, concepts, and suggestions for the new V and the keyboard is just mind-blowing. Just too good :ok_hand: We are struggling to keep up but we will do our best to stay on top!

In this post, we will share some initial concepts for next-gen V Keyboard, while trying to provide interesting insights into the product development for this kind of accessory.

In general, keyboards for 2-in-1s or tablets are very fascinating products from an industrial design point of view, presenting interesting challenges as they are a mix between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ products. ‘Soft products’ utilize textiles or similar flexible materials, ‘hard products’ make use of materials like plastics and metal.

As we all know, we need to be able to connect, disconnect and adjust the angle of our 2-in-1 keyboard. This is why a flexible thin material is commonly used to replace a traditional hinge.

Different solutions are present in the market with different approaches and workarounds. We initially explored different possibilities for our device. But since the kickstand will be part of the tablet, a construction similar to the first-generation V seems the way to go.

The hidden challenge

Working with any type of textiles, leather or similar flexible material presents a key design challenge: edges. The reason is simple, these materials are usually resistant to stress on large areas such as the the top surface, but very weak on the sides as the material can easily fringe or deteriorate. Looking at mobile accessories or hardware tech using soft materials we have found several solutions to handling the edges. The most common are folding the edges inward, sealing the edges with heat, adding paint or similar, and banding the edges with a protective hard material.


A good example of edges gone wrong…

Having a soft welcoming material on the inside offers many advantages. It is very comfortable to the touch and is gentle on the screen when the device is closed. On top of this, the look is potentially very consistent over time – if the material is of good quality, of course :wink:

The concepts presented here will have similar features, share a similar design language, and focus mainly on the edges of the keyboard cover. It might seem like a small detail, but it defines the look, longevity, and usability of the product.

All concepts take into consideration some common elements. First of all, the keyboard has to be sturdy enough to feel premium and offer a great typing experience. They also have edges or raised surfaces around the keys to off-set the hard surfaces of the keys from the display’s cover glass. In addition to this, the pogo pin area will be redesigned to guarantee an easy connection with the V and provide maximum protection for- and reduce stress on the pogo pins. You will see different solutions in the concepts, but they all share the same intent.

The concepts!

Wrap


In this first concept, the core idea is to present a consistent look among the whole product utilizing entirely a matte Alcantara or similar material. In order to achieve this look the base solution is to fold the edges inward.

The key advantage of this solution is a very consistent and homogeneous look.

Disadvantages are mostly related to the shape required to fold the edges. There are restrictions on the fillet radius in order to fold the material inward without stressing it too much. A sharp ninety-degree fold would create a high-stress point that could speed up wear on the material. Having softer edges would for sure affect the look of the product, defining the overall design language.

Ringo


For this second concept, the main idea is to create a contrast between the inside and the outside of the keyboard. Having a soft-touch material on the inside where it is most needed, and harder more resilient material on the outside.

The key advantage here is the possibility to reduce thickness, as there is no layer of Alcantara on top of the structural material. An interesting possibility is to utilize the plastic back to add some features like an indicator light or similar.

The main disadvantage of this concept is the fact that the hard material can potentially degrade over time. It shows scratches more readily than soft material, and is more likely to damage other surfaces. In order to compensate for this we would need to add reinforcement or protection on the corners. This could compromise the premium look of the product if not nailed right :slight_smile:

Oreo


The construction here is a hybrid version of the first two concepts. Alcantara or similar material will be utilized on both sides, but the edges would not be folded. In this concepts the soft material is framed by a plastic element that protects the edges while preventing fringing.

The main advantage of this concept is the possibility of achieving sharper edges as the material has no need to be folded.

In this case the challenge will be to find a good surface treatment for the plastic edge to avoid a cheap plastic look. This is a common problem for plastic parts and can be particularly challenging on parts that are more easily scratched or under constant stress, like keyboard edges.

Chocobar


The last concept is similar to the first concept, but utilizes a different process to seal the edges.
With this construction, the edges are heat-glued together and trimmed. This is a common solution used in the Surface Pro line, and an example of a great execution of this technique is the latest iPad Pro keyboard, in which the width of these edges is minimized to achieve a very clean look.

The key advantages of this concept are the clean look and overall simplicity.

The main challenge of this concept is in the technical skills and experience required from the supplier to guarantee a good-looking and long-lasting solution. We would need to focus on minimizing the ‘flap’ length as much as possible. The perfect balance would need to be found during the product development stage, to identify the right width of the edges that looks good while still being resistant enough not to bend.

So what do you think?

What is your favorite construction?

  • Wrap
  • Ringo
  • Oreo
  • Chocobar

0 voters

What is your least favorite construction?

  • Wrap
  • Ringo
  • Oreo
  • Chocobar

0 voters

Great ideas from the community

As mentioned before, a lot of great ideas are being discussed in the community, including things we hadn’t even thought of like adding wireless charging to the keyboard. Some are a bit out there, but others should definitely be considered!

We will share these concepts with several potential keyboard suppliers, as well as a list of ideas and features. Therefore it is important that you keep sharing your thoughts and ideas! Right now we’re trying to learn as much as possible so we can bring you the best possible keyboard for the new V.

Based on the feedback from suppliers and the community, the keyboard concept will be further developed and refined, and presented alongside the new and improved V concept :+1:

Talk soon!

nlbanner

10 Likes

The Ringo concept is my favourite. :cupid: I love it is possible to reduce thickness while adding more exciting & unique features. It is also entirely in line with my (low-profile) keyboard concept. I believe the design team can find a way to reinforce its conners nicely. :smiley:

  • I heard community members criticise the Alcantara material implemented on the original V in some previous posts here: Redesigned V Keyboard. :thinking: I wonder whether this type of material has become refined enough to support the new V’s keyboard.

  • Although this official update is not layout-focus, I do want to point out that the TrackPad is better centred according to the G, H keys rather than the middle point of the keyboard width. The former helps to eliminate the issue of unexpected touching.

I will continue to work on my current keyboard concept to find the best possible layout solution. Come and join the voting & discussion! :gift_heart:

8 Likes

Although this official update is not layout-focus, I do want to point out that the TrackPad is better centred according to the G, H keys rather than the middle point of the keyboard width. The former helps to eliminate the issue of unexpected touching.

I don’t agree with positioning the TrackPad off-centered because of the following reasons:

  1. It would look bad.
  2. I don’t understand how moving the TrackPad to the side would prevent accidental touches.
  3. For me it feels very natural to reach the TrackPad in the center from my normal typing position. I don’t think moving it would be good for ergonomics.
  4. What would this do to left-handed persons?
4 Likes

I hope the keyboard keymap should be changeable by the user. Because I use some function key for another purpose.

1 Like

I really like the Ringo concept.
The duality of materials, it offers is really quite unique. I think it would make for a very sleek look, to have an all matt black exterior.
Here are some more points of improvement, which I would love to be worked on for the new version:

  • As you already stated, the keys should be recessed, so they don’t scratch the screen. This is a must improvement. My V’s screen looks like crap because of it. Even the TrackPad left a big scratch on the screen. Worst of all, support wouldn’t do anything about this even though it is a grave engineering flaw.
  • What I would really love though is a bigger and most importantly better TrackPad, that still works well in wireless mode.
  • The quality of the keys should improve. My right shift key is really warped and some keys start to lose their matt coating.
  • I think the feel of the keys can be improved on.
  • I really love the wireless functionality and actually use it a lot. Maybe there is a clever way to “store” or fixate the “flap” with the pogo pins, so it looks better and is better protected.
  • I don’t need RGB/colored lighting. Maybe more work can be put into making a better white background lighting, that actually iluminates the top of the keys and is brighter.

That’s it for now. Maybe it is to early for this input as this post is only concerning general design. But I had time and motivation now, so here you are. If I come up with more input, I will let you know.

Until then I’m really impressed and excited about the progress.

Stay safe!
Cheers

6 Likes

:shield: Please note it is a relatively small keyboard. Centre the trackpad according to the keyboard width, when users type on it, their right thumb/palm is more likely to contact the trackpad compare with a G-H centred version. :grinning:

  • Appearance is subjective to personal preference. I prefer the look of my proposal instead. Meanwhile, I believe many users can get used to a slightly different trackpad position (presumably even more comfortable). Furthermore, a couple of centimetres of a difference does not introduce any difficulty for left-handed users.

It might not be a wise idea for the new V’s keyboard to have wireless functionality due to a considerably sized battery must be integrated into the keyboard to accomplish such a task. The additional battery increases keyboard thickness & weight; moreover, given the new V design is probably thicker than 10mm, a low-profile keyboard comes extremely handy.

  • The keyboard of the original V charges its battery through Pogo Pins, and if the pins fail, the keyboard fails with it due to lack of power. A solution would be to implement a charging port on the keyboard, which has a distinct cost of additional thickness.
1 Like

I think maybe we can use soft textured plastic with a silicone feel for better grip and stability (like that)

8 Likes

I do like Alcantara but I also like a firm, non fabric keyboard. Are you considering any other materials besides Alcantara for the inside material?

3 Likes

If you move, won’t the same problem happen with the left thumb/palm?

In theory your arguments are completely right. But what actually is important, is to look on real-life usage.

Who is actually, in real-life, is disturbed by carrying a tablet that weighs 100 or even 200 grams more or is 2-3 mm thicker?

Personally I don’t care if my backpack weighs 200 grams more. Relative to the weight of the keyboard it may be a lot of weight. But relativ to my backpack? It’s like having 4 sips of water more in my water bottle. Nobody complains about 4 sips of water in a water bottle, why would they complain about a heavier keyboard.
I much rather have wireless functionality because it actually adds real-life value.
If I sit in the train and want to type something, the wireless keyboard actually adds real-life value.

I don’t quite see how having a low-profile keyboard comes in extremely handy.
I do see the benefit of a wireless keyboard though.

Also it is a great USP.

3 Likes

No. Because when users are typing, they centre their hands according to the G-H keys as same as the trackpad.

I agree with you that it is essential to consider some specific use-case. :grinning: For example, additional thickness & weight annoys users who carry multiple devices at the same time.

In addition to the bulkiness and charging issue I mentioned above, it is challenging to implement a wireless functionality properly. The original V is a live example with many users reporting unstable BT connection. @Mohammad_Hadi even directly posted a topic to gather opinions from the community & request the development of a non-Bluetooth keyboard. See Redesigned V Keyboard. Therefore, it could be an excellent idea to focus on building a robust physical connection.

1 Like

General Notes:

  • Oreo to me looks the best also seems the most durable
  • Please don’t use Alcantara, I’ve had bad experiences with it on my Surface Laptop; TLDR, if you constantly rest your palms at a singular location for long periods of time, it builds up. The folks at the Microsoft Store were nice enough to give me a warranty replacement for it but now I have this almost subtle PTSD when I use the keyboard. It’s to a point where I have to change my typing style on my laptop so that only my fingers touch the keyboard caps and my palms are hovering in the air. It is not comfortable as having your palms resting at the (obviously) dedicated palm rest area.
  • Just looking at the concept renders: I absolutely detest having page up and page down buttons above the left and right arrow keys. Either make the left and right arrow key full sized or keep it in the inverted T format please.
  • Side idea: anyway for Eve to change the click mechanism on the touchpad so people can tap anywhere on the keyboard (Like the iPad’s new magic keyboard [If apple hasn’t patented it yet]). I personally prefer tapping over clicking but this might be appreciated by some others.

Going through the replies so far

So what? I’d be very interested in seeing a User case study where a researcher compares the mapping of the touchpad centered towards the screen vs the hand positioning before we make wild assumptions.

Personally prefer having the touchpad to the screen because in terms of mapping (In context to HCI) Your eyes are generally focused on the center divisor of the screen therefore your hand movements should reflect that.

Further, the palm rest area will be equal to each other when you are manipulating the touchpad.

The only exception to this that I would personally accept is when the keyboard has a number pad included.

Are you sure that BT functionality was impaired because of the keyboard or was it because of the wireless bands on the original V? If it was because of the V then the new V supposedly has more plastic for better wireless communication.

Would also like to know this. Carbon fiber (Like Dell’s XPS line) could be something to consider but it’s kinda expensive.


Design proposal to consider if we could reduce the bottom bezel of the tablet.

which means that the keyboard can’t be magnetically attached to the bottom bezel (since it is too thin) to put at an angle.

Soo…


“layed” should have been “laid”. Please ignore typo

  • It would be slightly thicker than the standard type-cover-esque keyboards but it keeps the keyboard at the angle.
  • There’s theoretically more space to deepen the travel on the keyboard.
  • There’s also theoretically more space for more battery if Eve decides to keep wireless BT option.
  • Since the “flap” that 's usually dedicated to having the keyboard lift and attach the bottom bezel is reduced, we could theoretically have more space in the palm rest area (Which means possibly a larger trackpad or a small area above the trackpad so that the fingers don’t accidentally hit the pad)
  • Far fetched idea: If the new pen is thin enough, we could have it slide into the thicker keyboard top area (Like a Galaxy Note) to store the pen. The problem with this is that maybe the pen might be too thin and be uncomfortable to use (Like the Galaxy Note)
  • The subjective: I really don’t care about thickness of the keyboard as long as it is not too thick. Weight might be something to consider though.
2 Likes

I would love to see this keyboard use the low profile cherry mx switch https://www.cherrymx.de/en/mx-low-profile/mx-low-profile-red.html

A poll might tell us which side community members prefer.

  • PgUp & PgDn above directional keys
  • Full-sized Left & Right Arrow / Blank area above Left & Right Arrow

0 voters

I have concluded the poll here Share your concepts of 2-in-1s here -- your opinions shape the future of our design.

I hope someone who had experience with the BT function of the original V can share some examples with us.

  • Your concept is smart & unique. :+1: I want to treat it as an option; however, I expect it is uncomfortable for users to have an uneven tablet in their backpack. @arkery I apologise for the confusion caused by the word “rugged”, what I mean by it is ‘not perfectly flat’.
1 Like

…How is this rugged? I’m only describing the shape. Not what materials it is to be using. Do elaborate.

1 Like

I really like this but they are too bulky. they need a spacing of 16mm and a depth of 5mm (from the description as they do not provide dimensions.)

I am preparing a second version of my renders, have you seen my first on?
I prefer arrows to be 2/3 of the normal keys in height and come 10mm lower than the spacebar. This give an ok sized keys plus the page up/down or home/end as I prefer them.

I general, I prefer oreo because provides a bit more durability.
I do not like that the touchpad is so small…
Can you provide layout sizes? Cap size? Spacing?

1 Like

No I have not see your concept

Have u seen these

I would love to tap rather than click, like on the surface’s keyboards. Would be great to implement that on this new V keyboard.
Also, use gestures with two or more fingers for scrolling, swap windows, etc…

Thanks for the link. At least those they have some dimensions.

They seems to be big for a tablet.
Each key has a size of 15mmx15mm with a depth (including legs) of 11mm. That will make the thickness of the keyboard at least 15mm which is 50% more than the tablet thickness.

Despite tat I may like the idea of mechanical switches, I think they have to be at least 10mmx10mm and 5mm thickness in order to be used in a “bulky” keyboard.

This is my layout idea. I think is based on the ISO Layout.

PS For developers: Is it possible the pins to connect to the tablet to be usb-c or even better thunderbolt compatible? The crazy idea that I have is optional accessories (in the future) that can transform it to a docked screen or adding a more powerful keyboard.

5 Likes

It would be good to have better data about this. I would suspect the V because my V keyboard has issues in Bluetooth and so does my Brydge. They aren’t horrible but they both suffer from missed input randomly.

1 Like