A little while ago my involvement as an S60 Ambassador won me a Bluetooth keyboard and I planned to use that as my main means of text entry on the Samsung i8910 HD that I was recently awarded as an ambassador for that phone. It's no secret that I don't really like pure touchscreen phones, with text entry being one of my main problems with them. I have enough problems keeping my phones clean (they can get filthy while charging overnight in a different room to me) without wiping my grubby fingers all over the screen each time I want to type something. However I did promise to give people a detailed overview of this phone so it's only fair that I at least try out the built-in touchscreen text entry methods and report on them.
The first thing I should mention is that only three of the four S60 5th edition text entry methods have been included in the phone, with the portrait orientation mini-QWERTY being missed out. This leaves the full-screen QWERTY keyboard, an alpha-numeric keypad and handwriting recognition as the primary text entry methods. Of the three, I was most skeptical about handwriting recognition so decided to test it out by writing this very post using it (impressions to come at the end of the post). I've tried out both the full-screen QWERTY and the alpha-numeric keypad for a while now and have found both quite accurate, although they both share one quite annoying problem – it's hard to see much while you're typing. Here, check out the following screenshots to see what I mean.
Those tiny spaces show what you're typing as you type it and, so far, I've found no way to even shrink the text size down to show more at once. Still, both entry methods are well implemented and before long I was typing on the alpha-numeric keypad at almost the same speed I usually get on hardware keypads. The QWERTY however still seems rather alien to me, especially when I try to enter punctuation or numbers as these involve me hitting buttons that bring up new keyboards. Punctuation in particular is a pain as some things are included on the main keyboard and some need the punctuation keyboard to be called up. It's probably just a case of getting used to it though.
I mentioned earlier that I was skeptical about handwriting recognition on this phone. It's not handwriting recognition in general that I have a problem with, as I've used it before, more the fact that the i8910 is a finger touch phone not a stylus touch phone, so I couldn't see it working well at all. I couldn't have been more wrong. Choosing handwriting recognition as your primary text entry method opens a transparent blue panel over the text screen with a few extra options for things like capitals or repositioning the panel. Drawing a letter in that panel adds it to the text field. Drawing a line from right to left deletes the last character. Drawing a line from left to right adds a space. Tapping the screen twice in rapid succession adds a full stop. The other options on the screen allow you to type numbers, change the case of text, paste or copy highlighted text and reposition the entry panel. Although I've had continual trouble entering the letter K, apart from that it actually works quite well as a one-handed text entry method, although it is by far the slowest method on the phone.