Would you buy a keyboard case backed by Ryan Seacrest? The star host and producer invested in the Typo case to help iPhone 5 and 5s owners type with less, well, you know. We went thumbs-on with this $99 case at CES 2014 to see if it lives up to the hype.
The Typo case's keyboard looks very much like one you'd find on a BlackBerry. The keys have little frets, and our fingers felt comfortable typing in no time. The keyboard also has a number of BlackBerry-style shortcuts, such as pressing the spacebar twice to start a new sentence.
Apparently, BlackBerry isn't flattered, as the company is currently suing this startup.
There are a few iPhone-friendly keys, too. The button to the right of the spacebar brings up the on-screen keyboard, and a button all the way to the left on the bottom row turns on the keyboard's backlight.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the weight of the Typo. While it adds about an inch and a half to the overall length of your iPhone, it doesn't feel all that much heavier. However, the keyboard does cover up the iPhone's Home button, so iPhone 5s owners won't be able to use the fingerprint reader to unlock their device.
The Typo connects to the iPhone via Bluetooth; like any wireless keyboard, its 180 mAh battery needs to be charged from time to time; there's a microUSB port on the lower lefthand side.
In our brief hands-on time with the Typo, we were able to start typing relatively fast; company reps said it normally takes a few days to become acclimated. As far as tactile feel goes, the keyboard is good but not great. Typing felt a bit on the mushy side.
Overall, $99 is a lot to spend for a case that adds only a keyboard. We'd like to see a battery and keyboard combo for this sort of premium. But if you're nostalgic for a physical QWERTY this accessory may satisfy. Stay tuned for our full review.