Hands on: New TREWGrip Adds QWERTY Keyboards to Any Mobile Device

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We’ve seen a lot of…quirky…keyboards pop up at CES, but the new TREWGrip might be the strangest one yet. 

A new take on Bluetooth keyboards for mobile devices, the TREWGrip has all the keys you’d find on a regular Bluetooth keyboard, with one very big difference – they’re on the back. 

TREWGripTREWGrip

By placing the keys on the back of the device, the TREWGrip handily solves the problem mobile users face when trying to type without a flat surface. Instead of having to rely on your thumbs to do all of the work, the thumbs help to stabilize the device and hit meta keys, while your eight fingers curve around and do the real work.

In order to help users get used to the new layout, there are indicator keys on the front of the TREWGrip that light up when the corresponding key is struck on the rear.

TREWGripTREWGrip

We tried the TREWGrip out, and while a bit heavier than we’d like – keep in mind, these were all hand-made prototypes on display – it’s hard to argue with the device’s effectiveness.

At a typing competition hosted in Cincinnati this past summer, the winner (who previously was clocked at 137 words per minute on a standard keyboard) was able to manage 115 words per minute on the TREWGrip once acclimated. 

TREWGrip

In addition to the full set of keys, the TREWGrip features an internal gyroscope. When connected to a Windows PC/tablet or supported Android device, you can move the TREWGrip up/down/left/right to control an on-screen mouse; that’s an important consideration given the expected rise in Windows 8 tablets (such as the Dell Venue 8 Pro).

The middle front of the keyboard features a “micro-suction” pad that will hold your phone or small tablet (we saw it go up to at least an iPad Mini), even if you manage to swing the TREWGrip up to a pretty steep angle.

So far, aside from the odd looks you might get while using it, the only potential negative is battery life. They haven’t completed testing (and remember, prototypes), but the company expected to get only 8-10 hours of use out of it. Given how newer Bluetooth keyboards have battery life measure in days or weeks, not hours, it’s hard to say why the TREWGrip suffers – though the gyroscope might have something to do with it.

TREWGripTREWGrip

TREWGrip, LLC. hopes to launch the product by Q4 of this year. Given the low first production runs, they’re targeting a pricepoint of around $250. Pricey to be sure, but if you need to input data on the move, this is the best solution we’ve yet seen.

Part of the cost comes from the unique layout of the TREWGrip (curved circuitboards) and the fact that TREWGrip expects at least the first few production runs to be built in Dayton, OH and/or Lexington, KY. In addition to the U.S. production runs, a rep for the company noted that all the parts in the prototypes came from companies located entirely in the midwest United States.

More info: TREWGrip

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