What do all QWERTY keyboards have in common from the large clickity clackity USB keyboards to the smaller wireless keyboards? They all have dozens of keys. But less is more right? If that’s your motto then I don’t think you’ll ever look at another traditional keyboard again once you see the DecaTxt one-handed Bluetooth keyboard.
What is it?
The DecaTxt is a one-handed Bluetooth keyboard that has only 10 keys, but those 10 keys provide all the same letters, numbers, punctuation symbols, function keys and even some media control keys that a full-size traditional keyboard has, but in a form factor that is about the same size as a deck of cards.
Design and features
The DecaTxt keyboard looks like some sort of game or puzzle device with all the letters and graphics printed on it. But it’s really a fully functioning keyboard that has a total of only 10 keys.
There are 8 hard plastic keys on the front. Each key has good travel and tactile feedback. Printed on the keys are two letters. The top letter is what you get if you press the key all by itself and the bottom number is what will be typed if the number lock is enabled. Below each key are two more letters in red and blue. The red letters will be typed when the E key on the top edge is held while the key is pressed and the blue letters will be typed with the F key on the top edge of the DecaTxt is held down while a key is pressed. Then there are even more characters printed next to each key.
The E/6 and F/5 keys are used to switch to the second and third set of alphabet keys and are also used like a shift button if you press them at the same time, let go and then press the desired letter.
Yes, that’s a mini USB port that you see on the bottom edge of the DecaTxt keyboard and I was just as surprised as you probably are to see it.
Fully charging the keyboard takes between 2–4 hours and will power the keyboard for about a week. During charging, a faint red LED below the D/0 key will light up.
On both sides of the keyboard are rough sandpaper-like strips that help you grip and hold the keyboard against your side, leg, etc while typing on it.
Using the DecaTxt keyboard
To use the DecaTxt with your computer, phone, tablet, etc, you first have to charge it using a mini USB cable. When charging is finished, you can then press a key on the keyboard to wake it up and then go into the Bluetooth settings on your device to search for DecaTxt in the Bluetooth devices. When you select that device, it will pair and vibrate 3 times to let you know it’s connected.
The DecaTxt is held in one hand, left or right with the E and F keys facing up and the rough edge resting against the fleshy pad of your palm below your fingers. The other side of the keyboard should then be pressed against your side, leg, hip, etc to anchor it.
In this position, you’ll easily be able to use your 5 fingers to press letters A through Z. A through J can be printed with a single finger press. To get K through R, you need to hold down the E button, press the key and then release both keys. S through Z uses the same procedure, but with the F key held down.
So, following that logic, if you wanted to type the word “cat”, you would press the C key with your ring finger, press the A key with your index finger, hold down the F key with your thumb while pressing the B key with your middle finger and then release both keys.
If I had wanted to capitalize one of the letters, I would have needed to press both the E and F keys at the same time, released them and the pressed the desired letter. If I had wanted to capitalize the T, I would have needed to press the E and F at the same time, released them, held down the F key and the pressed the B key.
With a little practice, I was able to type single words with little effort, but not with a lot of speed.
But things get infinitely more complex when you add numbers, punctuation and other symbols into the mix. Luckily, pretty much everything you need to figure what key to press to type the desired character or symbol is printed right on the keyboard itself. Notice the colored bars next to the keys and the colored symbols printed next to the keys? This is your built-in guide.
Can you figure out how to do that by looking at the image above? Give up? The # symbol is gray and there’s a gray bar next to the C key. So you hold the C key with your ring finger, press the D key with your pinky and voila!
See the $ symbol next to the I key? Notice how there are two $ symbols on top of each other? One is gray and one is pink. Do you know how to type it? You have to hold down the C and the D while pressing the I. Yes, it’s getting more complicated.
What about spacing, pressing enter, and backspacing? To insert a space you have to hold your thumb down on the E and F keys on the top edge of the DecaTxt and press the A key with your index finger. You can also hold down all three keys to continuously space. To backspace, you hold down the E and F and press the G key. The backspace will also repeat if you hold down all three keys. The enter key is typed by pressing the A and G keys at the same time.
Using the DecaTxt keyboard is not physically difficult, but it could be considered mentally difficult because you need to remember the various key press combinations to type punctuation characters, symbols, numbers, etc. There is a definitely learning curve with the DecaTxt once you get past typing letters A through Z.
I can imagine that the DecaTxt would be really useful for someone with just one functioning hand or someone who needs to type while walking around. But for someone like me who is at a desk all day, it feels much slower and error prone compared to using a traditional keyboard. But then again, I don’t think a typical desk jockey is who the DecaTxt has been designed for.
Would you use a keyboard like the DecaTxt one-handed Bluetooth keyboard?