The Grab Shell’s completely bonkers design was made as a response to the phrase “You can text, call, video chat, and play games while you walk. Why can’t you write code while you walk?” As bizarre as that ask is, it was the genesis of what became the Grab Shell keyboard – the only PC keyboard designed to be used in a handheld manner, like a massive wearable. The reason? Well, a software engineer behind the Grab Shell insisted that “walking around while typing is the most efficient way to collaborate when looking at the same shared screen.”
We’ve covered ergonomic keyboards, split keyboards, touchscreen keyboards, and even the odd spherical keyboard, but even for us, a portable, handheld keyboard controller is a first. Sure, you could say that most Blackberries had handheld QWERTY keyboards, and so do touchscreen phones today… but do they have mechanical switches, joysticks, scroll wheels, AND handles?
Meet Grab Shell, a new kind of keyboard that’s looking at a genre of productivity that sort of goes unnoticed – the moving kind. Most PC keyboards require you to be tethered to a tabletop surface (where the keyboard rests), but not the Grab Shell. Hold it in your hands like a Nintendo Switch and type on it in a natural manner. The keyboard features keys on both sides – QWERTY keys on the back for your fingers, and dedicated function keys and navigation controls on the front for your thumbs. Use it in a handheld manner while you work, or fold the keyboard open and type like you would on a conventional split keyboard. The Grab Shell empowers both kinds of use.
“The next generation will undoubtedly be a virtual native generation. In that case, it should be available for use in the virtual world,” say the designers behind the Grab Shell. “In other words, just as VR and AR devices are wearable, keyboards should also be wearable.”
Can’t argue with that logic.
As is evident from the images, the GrabShell can be used in two ways – as a handheld controller in its ‘shut’ mode, and as a semi-conventional keyboard when opened out. I say semi-conventional just for the fact that the GrabShell opens into a rather odd shape with a split design that puts special keys like the enter button, the num-pad, and the arrow keys in the center. The center also features unique navigation controls like a scroll wheel, joystick, trackball, and a toggle switch that helps offset the need for a mouse with the keyboard. Dedicated Left and Right click buttons also feature on the keyboard’s design, along with layer keys, which are definitely a new addition. Designed by and for coders, who can sometimes be a fickle bunch, the entire keyboard is customizable too, with the ability to program different keystrokes, shortcuts, and macros to suit your needs. Also in the spirit of user freedom and absolute customizability, the Grab Shell connects wirelessly to both Windows and macOS devices too, with the ability to toggle between them, should you choose. A USB-C port lets you charge the keyboard or use it in wired mode, and a 2000mAh battery powers the Grab Shell for months without needing to be charged, so you can keep walking around as you code, type emails, play games, or just browse the internet.
Its strange format aside, the Grab Shell has all the trimmings of an actually satisfying mechanical keyboard. It uses the original layout for the QWERTY keys, albeit in a split-keyboard design, employing Cherry MX1A switches and ABS keycaps to create a keyboard experience that gamers, coders, and tech-geeks will absolutely love. Going above and beyond, the Grab Shell also comes with a toggle switch, joystick, scroll wheel, track-ball, left and right-click buttons, and literal handles that let you grab your keyboard and work without being bound to a desk. Moreover, the Grab Shell’s keys are completely backlit too, giving you the ability to work not just from anywhere but also pretty much at any time you feel productive! Don’t let anything get in the way of those all-night coding sessions!
The Grab Shell is available in two colors – Onyx Black and Moon White. Priced at a discounted $299, the Grab Shell is up for pre-order on its website, with deliveries beginning in June 2023.