Battle of the keyboards: virtual vs physical

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

Whether you prefer a hardware keyboard or a virtual keyboard is down to personal preference, but like all new technologies, a virtual touchscreen needs practice before you'll be instantly impressed.

Many people prefer the feel of hardware keyboards because you can feel the buttons below your fingertips, making touch-typing much more effective.

The one big advantage with a hardware keyboard is that you don't have to go through multiple screens to select hidden symbols. Hardware keyboards act more like computer keyboards, with every button appearing on the main body, while virtual keyboards are limited by space, meaning you'll most likely have to enter a second menu to enter punctuation or symbols.

If you have more time to spare, there's nothing wrong with a virtual keyboard, but it will take more concentrating than just glancing at your screen and hoping that your fingers have translated a masterpiece with no real feedback.

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However, there's split opinion within the hardware sector too. Are slide out, full-length keyboards easier to use than one limited by the size of a candy bar? At least these lose some of the bulk of a slider, but buttons are more crowded, but often better textured for grip.

A keyboard is arguably one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a business phone, and it's hard to judge which is better for business.

After all, touchscreens and virtual keyboards are a relatively new concept compared to hardware.

If we were to choose a winner in each category, the iPhone, followed closely behind by the BlackBerry Storm 2 for touchscreen, and BlackBerry 9700 Bold for hardware would come top of our list.

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