This USB dongle can help the average person type 600% faster

The CharaChorder X dongle only on a black background.

It sounds like an advertisement you would find on the back pages of Popular science for a marvel gadget that couldn’t possibly deliver on its promises, but the CharaChorder X dongle can be legitimate and dramatic improve a user’s typing speed– assuming they’re willing to put in the work to learn how to use it.

So how can a device claim to “increase the average human typing speed from 40 words per minute to 250 words per minute” without inserting a probe deep into a user’s brain to detect what word they are thinking faster than their fingers can type? ? The secret of the Chara Chorder Xand earlier products from the makers, such as the CharaChorder Lite keyboard, is that it simply reduces the number of keys that must be typed to spell words. So instead of needing 28 separate keystrokes to type out anti-disestablishmentarianism, a user only needs to press a combination of three or four keys once.

The secret of the CharaChorder X is in its name: chords. Like a pianist hitting several keys at once to play a group of notes with a unique sound, or a guitarist plucking multiple strings, CharaChorder technology allows an alphanumeric keyboard to be used in a similar way. But instead of producing sounds, pressing several keys at the same time activates a much longer word that is automatically typed, making a keyboard a much more efficient input tool.

The original version of the CharaChorder looked more like a gaming peripheral covered in a collection of wobbly, unlabeled joysticks, but the follow-up, the Chara Chorder Lite, looked like a normal compact keyboard, making it easier for users to slowly move from traditional typing techniques to the benefits of chord typing. And as happy as the company was that everyone dropped $200 on their dedicated keyboard, the latest creation is a much cheaper solution, giving every existing keyboard CharaChorder powers.

The CharaChorder X dongle plugs into a device’s USB port and then a keyboard plugs into it. No special drivers or software need to be installed, as the CharaChorder X itself monitors what is being typed and automatically enters longer words when a three- or four-key combination is detected. It comes with a library of existing chords, but users can also program their own custom chords through a website interface, with the dongle having the capacity to store over 65,000 presets. And because it’s a standalone device, it works with Windows, Linux, macOS, and even Android, iOS, and iPadOS.

There are two traps to reaping the benefits of the CharaChorder X’s typing speed. First, you have to learn all those chords and the muscle memory it takes to accurately hit three or four keys at once. This is made easier by web-based training tools the company provides, but it takes some practice to remember enough of them to significantly improve your typing speed.

Second, the creators are using a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help get the CharaChorder X into production. The campaign has already surpassed her $10,000 funding goal, and you can score one of the dongles for just $39 with a contribution, with the full retail price eventually reaching $100. Delivery is expected sometime next July, but as with any Kickstarted product, especially electronics, there’s always the chance that unforeseen delays. The company has already launched several products through Kickstarter, so it has a solid track record, but it’s always a good idea to be wary of products where all risk is placed on those who pre-order one.

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