Battle of the keyboards: virtual vs physical

Which is the better format for serial typists, screen-based keyboards or tiny physical ones?

And then there's the hardware keyboards. Based directly on the phone, you get physical keys, but they're usually pretty tiny. While some can type at speed on such keys, others have trouble. Here are a few of the best.

HTC Touch Pro2

The HTC Touch Pro2 is the best equipped HTC device for serial emailers. Although it does include the Windows Mobile virtually keyboard, the hardware keyboard is much more finger-friendly than using a stylus, as is required.

When you slide the HTC Touch Pro2 open, the keyboard kicks out at almost 90 degrees so it's perfect for using when the phone is resting on a desk.

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The letters are well spaced thanks to the length of the phone, and each key is slightly domed to add definition. However, they don't sit away from the casing enough in our opinion to use blindfolded.

hardware keyboards

BlackBerry 9700 Bold

BlackBerry is a master in producing QWERTY devices, and bar the complicated SureType keyboard as seen on Pearl devices, the original Bold's keyboard is, in our opinion, the best out there. The keyboard implemented on the BlackBerry 9700 Bold 2 is no different.

It allows you to type using one hand without issue, and the texture on the keys provides a non-slip surface. Those with bigger digits may find it a little cramped at first, but BlaxkBerry has done well with the limited space to hand.

Nokia N97

Nokia's N97 has come under fire from consumers and business users alike. However, the offence is caused more by the touchscreen abilities rather than the hardware. The keyboard is one redeeming factor. The individually mounted keys give a satisfying click as you press each one, and it's comfortable to type while holding with two hands.

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T-Mobile G1

The T-Mobile G1 may have been the first Android device on the market, but its hardware keyboard is yet to be rivalled in the Android space.

The keys are well spaced, catering for all shapes and sizes of fingertips, although they aren't particularly slip-proof like the BlackBerry Bold's.

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