The Qwerkywriter: a delightful Bluetooth keyboard based on a manual typewriter

I blogged the announcement of the Qwerkywriter more than a year ago, when the company was retooling from its successful kickstarter to full retail production. I've had one of the production models in my office for a couple of months now and I've been very impressed! (I wrote this review on it).

Qwerkywriter is a solid, aluminum-alloy-framed keyboard, and the keys themselves have a delightful, clicky tactility that reminds me of typing on a Das Keyboard. The typing experience also reminds me of my beloved Datamancer keyboard (RIP).

Though I've mostly used Qwerkywriter with my laptop on my office desk, it's really meant to be used as a tablet keyboard, and sports its own built-in tablet stand. I'm not much of a tablet user, mostly because of the frustration of data-entry -- Qwerkywriter goes a long way to solving that (and it's just as easy to pair with a tablet as it is to pair with a laptop), but it's necessarily bulky and thus unsuited to taking in a shoulderbag with a tablet for some work in the park or at a cafe.

I have no complaints about Qwerkywriter: it's got the build-quality and design smarts that you'd want from a kickstarted labor of love. In some ways, it epitomizes what crowdfunding can do: fill niches that are too small and weird for mainstream industry to approach. It's quirky.

The downside of small production runs and high quality parts and builds is the cost: the Qwerkywriter costs $350, and that's the launch price; full price is advertised as $400. That is a lot of money to spend for the (admittedly wonderful) aesthetic experience of typing on a fun, thoughtful, handsome keyboard. I enjoy using the programmable platen-return arm as a shortcut for sending emails (in truth, "enjoy" is too mild a phrase for the emotion I experience when I send emails by banging that lever!), but I don't know that I'd shell out my own money for that enjoyment.

The Qwerkywriter would make a great gift or a great indulgence: something to buy yourself when you finally finish that novel, a graduation present for a budding writer, etc.


Notable Replies

  1. I like everything about it, except the price.

  2. I'm right now looking for better keyboard alternatives to deal with my emerging RSI, and discovering just how bad all the early design decisions typewriters have got us stuck with for legacy, this feels like a painful and enraging step in the wrong direction.

    Pretty though.

  3. I wonder if this would be helpful to Parkinson's sufferers.

    Currently, "Parkinson's Keyboards" are regular keyboards with lasercut plexi shields over them, so that you have to stick your finger in a hole to press a key. This is incredibly helpful for people with the tremor (hyperkinesiac) form of parkies - they rest their hands on the shield, and the cutouts keep them from accidentally hitting all the keys around the one they want - so the vendors charge an arm and a leg for $5 worth of plexiglass and a couple of velcro straps.

    But those kind are not great for people with the freezing (hypokinesiac) form of Parkinsons - they don't have a problem with hitting the wrong key, they have a problem with hitting any key at all. But it's usually easier to do things if they have a rhythm, a beat to them, and it would be interesting to see if a keyboard with longer key travel would help.

  4. I'm disappointed by the lack of manual typewriter experience, like the long mechanical key throw of a manual typewriter. But, if they'll throw in a flying capital feature, and one where the keyboard can jam if you type too quickly on nearby keys, then I'm in :smiley:

    Meanwhile, there are these kits that allow you to use a manual typewriter as a USB keyboard...

    Want. But I don't have an appropriate typewriter to convert yet...

  5. We need mass-produced individual keys (cheap per piece) and 3d-printable or laser-cuttable something to set them into... Would allow cheaper design of user interfaces, including keyboards. With the arduino HID devices we're almost there; the main obstacle is the 100 keys for a keyboard.
    ...possibly some VERY cheap bus-powered chip with UID that sends a press/release event on a 1-wire bus, and then connect the keys all in parallel, and then have a microcontroller that remembers which UID is which key/event?

    Hmmm... Better learn Morse when there's still time...

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