It’s time to have a look at the state of the keyboard. What does it look like? What can it do? What keys are on it? Let’s get right down to it!
When we showed off the final industrial design for the new V, we briefly featured the keyboard cover in one of the renders. Since then, one focus of the design team has been on refining the industrial design of the keyboard itself, and we’re ready to show you a bit more of it. (Please keep in mind that color, material, and finish (CMF) has not yet been applied in today’s renders!)
Major hurdles when trying to implement the popular OREO design were the amount of plastic needed and the point where the pogo pin bar connects: With a plastic frame covering the entire edge, there was no way to let the flexible tab connect tidily. We ended up with a design that didn’t show up in any of our initial concepts, combining the folded edges of the WRAP design on the inside with the plastic frame from OREO on the outside. It’s close to the edge treatment of our first-gen keyboard but more refined.
By curving the back of the keyboard to mirror the pillowed back of the V, the two look like a cohesive unit when put together. Making the keyboard look like it belonged with our new V was an important driver in its design decisions, and this will of course also be taken into account as our designers pick paints, surface treatments, and soft materials to apply the finishing touches to both the V and the V Keyboard.
The first-gen V Keyboard sported a battery and a Bluetooth radio, allowing it to be used even when it wasn’t directly connected to the V through the pogo pins. The idea was that you could use it anywhere, put the V on its kickstand and take the keyboard into your lap, or even use the keyboard independently with a different tablet or phone. We still really like this idea, as it definitely fits the V’s role as a versatile device that can do everything!
Even so, there were some issues with the V Keyboard that made the experience less-than-ideal for many users, including connecting- and charging issues, accidental device activation when the keyboard was stowed, as well as inconsistent behavior between the keyboard in its attached and its wireless modes.
We’ve taken into account both the positive feedback and the issues that were reported with the previous keyboard. We’ve also considered the added size and weight, which are downsides to the inclusion of Bluetooth, and its added cost – not only in components and manufacturing complexity but also its certifications as a wireless device and the specifics of shipping products that contain batteries.
The new V allows us to improve upon the original in a number of ways, and we are reluctant to remove functionality that existed before. Even so, we believe that a great connected experience will be the better default keyboard option for many users.
That said, we are always looking out for ways to offer cool products to our fans. For some, the wireless option was ideal, and some of the recent community feedback tells us that there may be more interest in a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard than we initially thought.
Offering a choice of wired and wireless keyboards may also allow us to offer other features. After all, if the keyboard is thicker to fit the electronics and battery, why not use that added size to add an extra USB port or similar? Also, if it’s going to be used on its own, should it come with its own angle lift method, and can we avoid a loose-hanging pogo pin bar? Those details will need to be worked out with our manufacturer and with you, our community, if we go that route.
What keyboard cover do you prefer?
- The standard one that connects directly to the V with pogo pins.
- A wireless one that also connects to the V with Bluetooth, and am willing to pay up to $50 extra.
- I want both, so I can pick the most convenient one at any given time.
- I don’t want a keyboard cover; I just want the tablet portion of the new V.
The design of the keyboard cover as a whole is one thing, but the real star of the show is the keyboard itself. We’ve found a module that should feel and function great, and even offers a number of extra keys over our first-gen keyboard. A quick and easy way to reduce the size of a keyboard module is to reduce the number of keys. Of course then the question becomes: which keys stay, and which keys go?
We already discussed the modifier keys to the right of the space bar back in June, which showed that Alt(Gr), Menu, and Ctrl are the way to go. Win and Fn were not very popular, each being used by only a fraction of the voters.
The old V Keyboard had one extra key, and after deliberation with our community, that turned into a Del key. This time, we get eight. …the problem is, we’re still missing nine keys. So which function doesn’t get its own physical button? Time to survey you guys!
Which keys do you use?
- PSc Print Screen / SysRq
- SLk Scroll Lock
- Brk Pause / Break
- Ins Insert
- Home Home
- PgUp Page up
- Del Delete
- End End
- PgDn Page down
While we’re on the topic of key functions, let’s also look at the function row. Some of the Fn-layer functions of the F-keys are pretty much a given in any modern laptop keyboard. So don’t worry; you’ll get buttons to control display brightness, volume, and media playback. And of course you’ll still be able to use F1 through F12. But what other functions are important to you guys?
Which function keys do you use?
- Increase & decrease keyboard backlight brightness
- Cycle keyboard backlight brightness
- Enable/disable airplane mode
- Enable/disable WiFi & Bluetooth
- Enable/disable WiFi
- Enable/disable Bluetooth
- Enable/disable touchpad
- Enable/disable camera
- Enable/disable microphone
- Enable/disable built-in display
- Lock Windows
- Put device to sleep
- Put device to hibernate
- Launch Windows Snip & Sketch
(formerly Snipping Tool)
- Launch Windows Task View / Windows Timeline
- Launch Windows Settings app
- Launch Windows Task Manager app
- Launch Windows Calculator app
- Cycle Windows Projection mode
(Internal screen only, external screen only, duplicate screen, extend screen)
- Enable/disable browser reader mode
- Other, I will leave a comment
(Please keep in mind that these are community-requested features. We will need to discuss their feasibility with the keyboard manufacturer.)
The new V continues to take shape with every question answered, every box checked. But we still have things to work out, so keep an eye out for more Project: V news!