The Instigator
bodhiBit
Pro (for)
Losing
10 Points
The Contender
maninorange
Con (against)
Winning
13 Points

onscreen keyboards offer no improvement over physical keyboards

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/10/2011 Category: Technology
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,783 times Debate No: 14688
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (6)

 

bodhiBit

Pro

I would argue that onscreen keyboards, like the ones on iPhone, iPad, Android and other touchscreen smartphones/tablets, offer no improvement over real physical keyboards.. In fact they are really just trying to imitate the real thing, and nothing imitates a real thing better than the real thing itself..

On a real keyboard you can rest your fingers on the keys while they idle, but this is not possible on an onscreen keyboard without accidentally typing something.. On an onscreen you need to keep your fingers lifted over the screen when they are not typing a letter.. So in short muscle usage is way lower on a physical keyboard than on an onscreen..

Not to mention the tactile feedback that a physical keyboard naturally provides.. The fact that you can feel the boundaries of the keys help you from losing track of them.. This is something that onscreen keyboards cannot imitate yet..

One might argue that onscreen keyboards provide spelling correction and other types of intelligent typing aids.. But these aids could just as well be implemented with physical keyboards adding all the inherent benefits of a real keyboard..

The only potential I see for onscreen keyboards is alternative methods for typing whole words i.e. Swype, but I haven't experience any significant improvement in terms of speed, effort and ease of use to a physical keyboard with tab-completion and the like..

I have a (rooted) HTC Magic and a Nokia N810 if Con wants me to try out keyboard apps that might challenge my claim..

I wish Con the best of luck.. :)
maninorange

Con

The improvement by onscreen keyboards over physical ones lies in conservation of space and the convenience associated with it. If the iPhone had a physical keyboard, then one of two sacrifices must be made: the iPhone's size must be increased; or the screen of the iPhone must be made smaller. Either of these sacrifices would make a significant impact on the iPhone's ease of use and/or portability.

Technically the debate was over the existence of such an advantage, which I have just presented. However, if you would instead like to debate over whether the advantages of a physical keyboard outweigh the advantages of an onscreen one, I would be willing to give you that luxury.
Debate Round No. 1
bodhiBit

Pro

This debate is strictly about the keyboard and its efficiency as a text input device.. Not the device in which the keyboard is implemented or how it affects it..

But just to respond to Con's argument: The sacrifices that Con mentions has to be made either way.. If you want to implement an onscreen keyboard that is as efficient as a physical keyboard, you would have to increase the size of the keys in order to make up for lack of being able to feel them, thus increasing the size of the screen/device.. Furthermore the onscreen keyboard consumes screen real estate, thus making the screen smaller for the application..

There are many implementations of physical keyboards in which the keyboard folds or slides out, thus not taking up space when not in use.. And all this without taking up screen real estate..

But as I mentioned before, this is irrelevant to the debate.. The inherent purpose of a keyboard is to allow the user to input text.. I would like to once again make the case that a physical keyboard fulfills this purpose more efficiently than an onscreen keyboard of the same size..

It is evident that an onscreen keyboard still strives to match the efficiency of a real keyboard.. It does this by imitating or make it up for as many aspects of a real keyboard as possible: the keyboard layout, "tactile feedback" though vibration and auto-correction to make up for the typing errors which are likely to occur.. One remaining Achilles heel is still that you can't rest your fingers on the keys, but have to constantly lift you fingers while you type, which can become strenuous during a long typing session..

The physical keyboard is the ideal for the onscreen keyboard.. The same can't be said for the opposite..

I look forward to Con's argument to how an onscreen keyboard is more efficient as a text input device than a real keyboard..
maninorange

Con

"This debate is strictly about the keyboard and its efficiency as a text input device.."
This would seem to indicate that you are instead arguing that physical keyboards are easier and more efficient to use in terms of time spent typing and fixing typos.

Actually your original statement is as follows:
"I would argue that onscreen keyboards, like the ones on iPhone, iPad, Android and other touchscreen smartphones/tablets, offer no improvement over real physical keyboards.."
You began by arguing that onscreen keyboards had NO advantage over physical keyboards. However, you have ignored the size factor. I will restate my point that onscreen keyboards leave room for a larger screen view [when the keyboard is not in use].

In your rebuttal, you make the following statement:
"If you want to implement an onscreen keyboard that is as efficient as a physical keyboard, you would have to increase the size of the keys in order to make up for lack of being able to feel them, thus increasing the size of the screen/device.."

Firstly, the onscreen keyboard does not have to be as efficient as a physical keyboard of the same size in order to have a net advantage. Using the iPhone as an example again, when rotated on its side, the size of the keyboard can be altered to fit different situations. You can have it vertical and have a smaller keyboard when you need to see more of the screen at a time. You can also have it horizontal with a larger keyboard for ease of use of the keys. For other apps, where a keyboard is not required, the keyboard simply disappears, leaving the screen uncluttered.

"I look forward to Con's argument to how an onscreen keyboard is more efficient as a text input device than a real keyboard.."

I am not here to do that. I am here to show that onscreen keyboards have advantages over physical keyboards, but not necessarily those related to typing speed and efficiency. This includes resistance to water damage, easy coexistence with other touch-screen properties, butt-dialing prevention, alterable size and position of the keyboard, and, of course, conservation of screen space while not in use.
Debate Round No. 2
bodhiBit

Pro

I guess I underestimated the importance of clarity when defining the debate.. This is my first debate on debate.org after all.. I admit I started out a little vaguely, but the rest of my opening statement should have narrowed the debate down to only be about typing efficiency.. I made no points about anything else..

In my opening statement I said:
"I would argue that onscreen keyboards, like the ones on iPhone, iPad, Android and other touchscreen smartphones/tablets, offer no improvement over real physical keyboards.. In fact they are really just trying to imitate the real thing, and nothing imitates a real thing better than the real thing itself.."

Here I made the case that the onscreen keyboard is still trying to catch up to the physical keyboard in terms of its core purpose: to input text.. Con hasn't addressed this issue yet..

Even trying to make the case that an onscreen keyboard has an overall advantage over a physical keyboard, he fails as he forgets to contrast his points against the real keyboard..

Con says:
"I will restate my point that onscreen keyboards leave room for a larger screen view [when the keyboard is not in use]."

This is only compared to when the onscreen keyboard IS in use.. As I mentioned in my previous argument, this is never an issue with a physical keyboard, where you always has the entire screen available for you application..

Con says:
"Using the iPhone as an example again, when rotated on its side, the size of the keyboard can be altered to fit different situations. You can have it vertical and have a smaller keyboard when you need to see more of the screen at a time. You can also have it horizontal with a larger keyboard for ease of use of the keys."

Again this is never an issue with a physical keyboard.. Most implementations of slide out keyboards have them slide out in landscape mode giving you the biggest keys possible.. And the screen space is never reduced..

Con says:
"You began by arguing that onscreen keyboards had NO advantage over physical keyboards. However, you have ignored the size factor."

The size difference is often minimal and more often insignificant.. It is possible to implement a slide out keyboard without making the device significantly thicker..

Here is the Nokia N800 which doesn't have a physical keyboard:
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Here is the Nokia N810 which has a slide out keyboard:
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Notice the dimensions and overall specs of each.. And factor in the inherent advantages (described in my opening statement) that the physical keyboard adds to the N810..

The portability you sacrifice (if any) is well worth the advantages you get out of the physical keyboard..

Con says:
"I am here to show that onscreen keyboards have advantages over physical keyboards, but not necessarily those related to typing speed and efficiency. This includes resistance to water damage, easy coexistence with other touch-screen properties, butt-dialing prevention, alterable size and position of the keyboard, and, of course, conservation of screen space while not in use."

Resistance to water damage:
This is probably true although rarely an issue for most people, I think..

Easy coexistence with other touchscreen properties:
This needs explanation.. I assume the capability of the touchscreen is the same with or without the physical keyboard..

Butt-dialing prevention:
If this happens with a phone with slide out keyboard it would have to be due to the touchscreen since the keyboard hidden behind the screen and probably even disabled.. So this would be no different to a phone with onscreen keyboard..

Alterable size and position of the keyboard:
Why would you want to settle for less than a landscape keyboard if it wasn't for the fact that the onscreen keyboard takes up screen space..?

Conservation of screen space when not in use:
I've addressed this multiple times now.. A device with a physical keyboard ALWAYS conserves screen space even when it IS in use..

I would like Con to at least answer the originally intended question of the debate: Is an onscreen keyboard more efficient as a text input device than a physical keyboard..?
maninorange

Con

"I guess I underestimated the importance of clarity when defining the debate.."
Indeed. For the purposes of typing efficiency, I would agree that onscreen keyboards have no advantage whatsoever (as of now) over physical keyboards. However from the beginning I have tried to show that this is not the only thing to consider.

"Even trying to make the case that an onscreen keyboard has an overall advantage over a physical keyboard, he fails as he forgets to contrast his points against the real keyboard.."
I am by no means saying that all onscreen keyboards have an advantage over all physical keyboards. I am saying that in certain situations, an onscreen keyboard is better suited to the purpose than a physical keyboard.

"...when the onscreen keyboard IS in use... this is never an issue with a physical keyboard, where you always has the entire screen available for you application.."

Imagine first that a device with a physical keyboard with the same keyboard size, screen size while performing a text activity, and overall bulk as a comparable device with an onscreen keyboard (These devices need not be phones. A tablet computer is also a good example.). For text-related activities, I would agree that the physical keyboard is indeed better in almost every way (I only say "almost" because I might be forgetting something). However, once you switch to a non-text-related activity, the entire keyboard can disappear leaving much more screen space to see what you're doing. This is an obvious advantage.

Imagine next that a device has the same keyboard size and screen size of the comparable device while not typing. This device would be significantly larger than the one with the onscreen keyboard, imparting a different advantage.

Finally, regarding two devices, one of which has an onscreen keyboard, and the other of which has a fold-out or slide-out keyboard depending on the size of the device, at some point, a fold-out or slide-out keyboard is simply impractical. See a tablet computer.

"Resistance to water damage:
This is probably true although rarely an issue for most people, I think.."
Even if it were not common, it is an advantage nonetheless. Also, I know I cannot make a generalization based only on personal experience, but it is worth noting that I myself am very prone to knocking over my drink while at my computer. In fact, while typing this message, I have had to pres the "M" key in very firmly because of a recent cranberry juice incident. Had this been over an iPad [with case], I likely would not be having this problem.

"Easy coexistence with other touchscreen properties:
This needs explanation.. I assume the capability of the touchscreen is the same with or without the physical keyboard.."
I meant that it was easily implemented whenever the phone already has a touchscreen. Take the tablet computer as an example again; it was easy to add the onscreen keyboard with some programming, whereas the fold-out or slide-out keyboard would impart certain other disadvantages as mentioned earlier.

"Butt-dialing prevention: ..."
I will concede this point as it is indeed fixed by a slide-out keyboard and the size involved does not impart the obvious disadvantage.

"Alterable size and position of the keyboard:
Why would you want to settle for less than a landscape keyboard if it wasn't for the fact that the onscreen keyboard takes up screen space..?"
This was an elaboration on the value of conserving screen space. However, I will also concede this point as it is not necessary to alter the size of a slide-out keyboard.

"I would like Con to at least answer the originally intended question of the debate: Is an onscreen keyboard more efficient as a text input device than a physical keyboard..?"
No. I do not disagree with this point. However, I do believe that there are other qualities which must be considered when evaluating whether one is an improvement over another, and you did not specify typing efficiency as the only quality to be considered. I believe that I have sufficiently shown that, in certain cases, the advantages of an onscreen keyboard outweigh the disadvantage of typing efficiency.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bodhiBit 6 years ago
bodhiBit
A physical keyboard can be implemented such that other keys will be ignored while a key is being pressed, thus solving the problem of accidentally pressing adjacent keys..
Posted by bodhiBit 6 years ago
bodhiBit
I don't see how size (of the keyboard) is an inherent difference between an onscreen and a physical keyboard.. If you want to make a fair comparison, you would have to assume that they are the same size..
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
I have used the small keyboard on the Droid and the touch screen keyboard on the Droid X. The touch screen is much easier to use. I think the reason the touch screen works better is that the touch screen is reacting to the centroid of the touched area. The real keyboard is actuated physically, so it is easier to erroneously actuate a neighboring key when the key spacing is less than the width of a fingertip. Con didn't make this argument, so it doesn't count in the debate, but be sure to compare for yourself before selecting a smartphone.

Con correctly interpreted the resolution to include size advantages, and won arguments that basis.
Posted by bodhiBit 6 years ago
bodhiBit
Thank you, maninorange, for a good debate.. :)

I will definitely make clarity a virtue in my next debate..
Posted by Alchemistress 6 years ago
Alchemistress
T^T somebody got to it first again ... >.< nooooo
Posted by bodhiBit 6 years ago
bodhiBit
It turned out that SaltyFlipper just wanted to waste my time.. The debate is reinstated.. Who will accept the challenge and actually participate in the debate..?
Posted by Alchemistress 6 years ago
Alchemistress
I hope not :/
Posted by bodhiBit 6 years ago
bodhiBit
It seems that SaltyFlipper have been on debate.org for 5 months but never been in any debates.. Am I screwed..?
Posted by Alchemistress 6 years ago
Alchemistress
damn ... should have taken it >.<
Posted by Alchemistress 6 years ago
Alchemistress
Hmmm although I agree with Pro, i could come up with quite a few reasons why someone would find a touch screen more convenient. It might be too risky a debate to take though ...
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Grape 6 years ago
Grape
bodhiBitmaninorangeTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: For small devices, onscreen keyboards a clearly better because they only occupy space when in use, as Con pointed out. This is clearly some kind of an improvement.
Vote Placed by sllewuy 6 years ago
sllewuy
bodhiBitmaninorangeTied
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Vote Placed by KelchUSMC 6 years ago
KelchUSMC
bodhiBitmaninorangeTied
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Vote Placed by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
bodhiBitmaninorangeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: When Pro referenced the iPad, etc, it made it clear that size was a consideration. con only needed to point to one advantage, and he did.
Vote Placed by maninorange 6 years ago
maninorange
bodhiBitmaninorangeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I cited no sources to compare to bodhiBit's. My only source was personal experience, which, as always, is of questionable reliability.
Vote Placed by Alchemistress 6 years ago
Alchemistress
bodhiBitmaninorangeTied
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