ION Audio is behind the launch of iTYPE, which is being called by the manufacturer a "first of its kind" desktop keyboard tailored for the iPhone and iPod touch.
Getting the big reveal at the Consumer Electronics Show, ION Audio has released photos of the device which transforms the iPhone/iPod into a portable computer offering up a standard QWERTY keyboard setup.
It's not exactly certain yet that the "convenience" of a keyboard via this mechanism will actually serve its intended purpose given the shear bulk of the product, but for those looking for a workable keyboard functionality to supplement their iPhone's native capabilities, the iTYPE could possibly resonate with a lot of iPhone users. ION is said to be prepping the iTYPE for release through ionaudio.com this spring, with the device likely retailing for about $110.
Coinciding with the iTYPE is ION's iDiscover Keyboard, a 25-note device customized with a dock for your iPhone or iPod touch that - as you can imagine - allows you to play "beautiful music." According to Music Radar:
The keys have a synth action and are velocity-sensitive, and there are also pitch/mod wheels and a selection of control buttons. The hardware works in tandem with the iDiscover Keyboard app, which contains a variety of instrument sounds that can be played and recorded.
The iDiscover app helps musicians enjoy a "virtual music studio" via their iPhone. Understandably, the iDiscover is being pitched to all musicians but with an emphasis on those on the go who may need to dictate a tune in their head before it fades away and never has an opportunity to reach the Billboard Hot 100.
ION's iDiscover Keyboard will similarly be released during the the same period as the iTYPE's release, but no pricing has yet been estimated for iDiscover.
While, on the face of it, this looks like a pretty inventive product, we're not totally convinced of its usefulness. Doesn't the beauty of making music on an iPhone or iPod touch lie in the fact that you can do it in the palm of your hand? What's more, it's not clear whether the hardware will be compatible with other apps. Still, hats off to ION for giving this a go –-the iDiscover Keyboard does also have a USB connection, so you can use it with your Mac or PC, too.