As a techie, I know that ideally software should be designed to match the way we already work. But to some extent, we always have to open ourselves up to learning how to use a new device. I have given myself a week to get used to the Playbook, and here are my thoughts on its keyboard . . .
After about a week with my iPad I understood exactly how I would use the keyboard. In portrait mode I would use my thumbs (a stretch, but doable). In landscape mode, I would set it down and type on the wider keyboard with all fingers, like a traditional keyboard.
I have given the Playbook keyboard just about a week of use now and after spending some time with the keyboard in both layouts, it has become clear that this is a thumb typing device through and through.
Portrait mode typing is the easiest and fastest way to type on the Playbook. In portrait mode, the device is inches 5 wide. My thumbs are roughly inches 3 long. Thus, both thumbs can easily reach across the keyboard to type out this post.
Landscape mode seems like a promising keyboard for ten finger typing, but in reality, its just a wider thumb keyboard. No surprise here,the typing experiences are largely the same. Using all your fingers crowds the screen and feels uncomfortable. If you have longer thumbs or don’t mind reaching, then thumb typing is possible–as possible as the iPad.
In landscape the Playbook is 7.5 inches wide, the same as the iPad in portrait mode. With a 3 inch thumb on each side, there is a 1 and a half inch dead-space at the middle of the keyboard. You can get to the entire keyboard if you reach over the bezels, which is more than adequate for short typing. But if you want to type out a longer document, the portrait Playbook keyboard is going to be a lot more comfortable.