HTC Touch Pro vs SE Xperia X1 – the keyboard

For both the HTC Touch Pro and to a lesser extent the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1, the claim to fame is the keyboard. Its a good thing the Xperia has other great features like its panel interface and 800×480 screen, as the keyboard is certainly one of its weaker points.

When compared to the HTC Touch Pro keyboard, who’s defining feature is its 57 key keyboard, the Xperia’s shortcomings are placed in stark contrast.

Not only are both keyboards the same size, despite the greater width of the Xperia keyboard, but despite having less keys than the Touch Pro, they keys are also mostly the same size. You therefore have to reach much further with your thumbs to little benefit on the Xperia. In my experience the separation of the keys on the Xperia does not help typing speed at all. When using the top row of they keyboard the screen section also encroaches much more than on the Touch Pro, and of course the top QWERTY row is used much more commonly than the numeric row of the Touch Pro.

The Xperia keyboard’s greatest sin however is the poor tactility of they keyboard. Most of the keys are actually OK, but the space bar is actually horrendous, making one never sure whether the key press has actually been registered or not.

This is not however the end of the litany of issues. In addition the contrast between the labeling of the letters on the keys and the keys themselves are really poor, and the keys are chromed and slightly pyramidal, meaning you are always having reflections on the keys making the labels even more difficult to see. The back light is also pretty weak, meaning the situation is not much improved even at night.

In addition while the Xperia keyboard has important keys like Start and OK, it lacks basics such as arrow keys.

The HTC Touch Pro suffers from none of these issues. They keys are easy to reach, have good tactility, there is good contrast between the keys and the lettering with a strong back light, and are therefore easy to read in all lighting conditions. There is a more than full complement of keys, with only the Ok and Start keys missing.

In short, I feel the Xperia keyboard is pretty horrendous, such that I often prefer using the standard on-screen Windows Mobile soft keyboard. I find in contrast the HTC Touch Pro is a pleasure to use.

In summary, I suggest one should not buy the Xperia for its keyboard. In this particular regard, I feel the HTC Touch Pro is a much better choice.

Both the Xperia X1 and HTC Touch Pro are available on Expansys.

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