We first saw the 4i keyboard for iPhone at Macworld. Back then, you had to "install" it, but the company has learned this isn't optimal and has created a clever case that we got to see at CES 2011 today (one quite similar to Apple's bumper) with a slot for easily adding the overlay keyboard in portrait or landscape mode. 4i has also added to the lineup with a clever iPad strap and iPod nano wristband named the Torq made out of titanium or steel. You can check out all the new gear on the 4i site, but as of this writing the links to individual products don't work just yet, so you can check out the gallery for some close-ups. All of these items are supposed to be available for purchase sometime later on this month.
4iThumbs2+The next version of the 4i keyboard overlays a plastic sheet on your iPhone and provides a tactile keyboard by adding small bumps where the software keys are located. It may seem silly, but if you are used to feeling keys on your phone, this is a pretty good fix for the otherwise flat surface. Not everyone is comfortable with typing on just a slick surface. There's no need for the rampant "this is stupid" comments like last time we covered this keyboard -- we get that the tactile thing isn't for everyone. But it is for some people, so let it go and accept that this product actually has a market. The case is a nice solution to the problem of what to do with the overlay when you don't need it, and it provides protection to boot.
The 4iThumbs2+ comes in two versions: one with the bumper-style case, and one is just the overlay. Without a case, it costs US$12.95, and it's $24.95 with the case. Again, you can slide the overlay keyboard into the case when you type, and then slide it onto the back of the phone when not in use.