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T-Mobile myTouch Slide 3G: How’s the Keyboard?

I still fondly recall the nice rubber keyboard of my Sidekick 2. So nice, I was reluctant to “upgrade” to a G1, which has a nice enough keyboard. A few months back I got to spend some time with a Nexus One, which was really nice . . . but I just could not adjust to the on-screen keyboard. The on-screen keyboard has gotten very good for inputting addresses and short messages, but if you’re a compulsive typer like me you need an excellent physical keyboard.

So, I keep my eye out for an Android device with an excellent physical keyboard, and naturally I do a little research on this HTC “T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide” . . . the name is truly awful, but it sounds like the keyboard shows promise. (It sounds like the physically-similar HTC “Touch Pro2” has an excellent keyboard, but I don’t want to run Windows on a mobile phone.)

So, in case, like me, you have wondered if the keyboard is any good, here is what various online reviews have had to say:

From http://www.intomobile.com/2010/06/14/review-t-mobile-mytouch-3g-slide-is-this-this-the-android-youre-looking-for/:

Of course, the main reason to get the myTouch Slide is for the full QWERTY keyboard. There are a few negatives but, overall, it’s an excellent way to bang out messages on the go. The shape of the keys are just right and the feedback and “clickability” make it easy to write long e-mails wherever you are. Hitting the secondary function or Caps lock key will bring up a handy light above the keyboard and I always appreciate dedicated comma and period buttons. There’s also pretty good auto-correction software with the keyboard so you don’t have to worry about throwing in apostrophes. The sliding mechanism produces a satisfying sound and it feels like it will hold up over time.

On the downside, I found the Tab button and A a little too close together and this led to multiple frustrating typos. What’s even worse is that the top row doubles as the number keys. This happens on many keyboards but usually you’ll have the letters and numbers a different color or font size to help you quickly find what you’re looking for. The myTouch Slide has “T5” “Y6” “I8” and others the exact same color and size, which can take some time to get used to. None of these quibbles are deal breakers though, as I was quickly able to get up to speed with my typing.

(The keyboard has four rows instead of five, and the top row reads “Q1 W2 E3 R4 T5 Y6 U7 I8 O9 P0” which looks dumb and would take some getting used to. Alas, the Touch Pro2 has five rows, like all the keyboards I am used to.)

From http://mobile.engadget.com/2010/06/01/t-mobile-mytouch-3g-slide-review/:

The keyboard is one of the best four-row designs we’ve used in recent memory (LG, seriously, take some pointers from this before you go releasing an Ally 2) with great feel, spacing, and clickiness — it’s readily apparent that HTC’s deep experience in making these kinds of keyboards is paying dividends. They’ve made room for all of the most important keys that you should be able to access without pressing Shift or Alt, notably the comma, period, and “@” symbol, plus you’ve got Home and Search keys and duplicated modifiers on the left and right sides. HTC aficionados will also be pleased to see that they’ve carried over the lit Shift and Alt symbols above the numeric row, which makes it super easy to see what character you’re about to press. It’s a nice touch.

From http://www.phonedog.com/2010/06/03/noah-s-mytouch-3g-slide-review/:

Keyboards are a very personal thing, and personally I love Slide’s QWERTY. While not quite as luscious as the Touch Pro2 on which it’s based, mT3G Slide’s thumbboard has been a joy to use save for some minor issues I have with the labels on the keys. Buttons on the keyboard are offset and isolated and have decent travel and solid tactile feel – in other words, its the exact opposite of the Moto Droid‘s flat grid of near motionless buttons, which I can’t stand. If you just read that sentence and wrote off the rest of my review because you love, love, love Droid’s QWERTY, then you may well hate Slide’s keyboard. Like I said, QWERTYs are a highly personal matter.

From http://www.mobileburn.com/review.jsp?Id=9572: “the keyboard has great feel, but is visually flawed.”

From http://www.mobilecrunch.com/2010/06/10/review-t-mobile-mytouch-3g-slide/: “who is this for? It’s for folks who miss their Sidekick and want a keyboard for messaging. The MyTouch 3G Slide’s processor won’t win the blue ribbon at the County Fair, but it is an impressive bit of cellphone.”

My verdict? I would want to try it out in the store, but it sounds like the keyboard would probably be “good enough” for me. That said, I think I will continue to hold out on upgrading for the following reasons:

Given that it may be either a hassle or an impossibility to upgrade my phone without paying more money each month, an expensive “upgrade” had better be worth it. The Slide sounds like it would be good enough as a new phone–a better alternative to the G1–but it has a few too many compromises to justify the cost of upgrade.

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