One of the major reasons I was turned onto the DROID was because of it’s full, slide-out keyboard. After using the DROID for a good four days I have decided that I do like the hardware keyboard, even with it’s quirks, and efficiently use the stock Android on-screen keyboard. Good thing that with the DROID and Android there are some options.
Some are saying that the hardware keyboard is complete junk. I would say that it is usable and actually works quite well for me. The keyboard reminds me of the HTC Mogul (XV6800) that was on Verizon and Sprint. The keys are flat, kind of slippery, close together, and are raised a tad (not really enough to differentiate them). It sounds way worse than it is.
I have two problems with this keyboard. First, your right hand has to reach over the “chin” of the phone (where the D pad is) to access the keyboard. It’s awkward and a tad uncomfortable. Second, when quickly typing V, B, or N buttons my thumbs accidentally hit the space bar. There isn’t any real way to “fix” these problems so it looks like I will get used to it.
The software keyboard seems inaccurate to the way that I type, especially in portrait mode. I feel that the keys are too close together and I don’t have enough room for error. Something that is very troubling is that there is no multi-touch on the keyboard — that is you have to lift your fingers completely off of one key before you hit the next key for it to register.
Engadget has a good video showing the differences between the DROID and the iPhone’s on screen keyboard. It clearly shows that there is no multi-touch on the stock Android keyboard.
Other on-screen keyboards
I found that Better Keyboard from the Marketplace does a good job, at least for the way that I type on the screen. It costs a little bit of money, but for me it was worth the price.
Also, I tried to install the HTC keyboard which can be found on the Hero or the Eris. Since it wasn’t built for Android 2.0 I got a nice error message every time I tried to launch it. Once HTC pushes out their Sense UI build for Android 2.0, we may see the nice HTC keyboard present itself as a valid alternative.