07-05-2018 03:37 PM
I've been buying ThinkPad USB keyboards (first the older ones with the traditional keyboard, now the new one with the six-row keyboard) so I can use a TrackPoint on desktop computers and other non-ThinkPads.
The current ThinkPad USB keyboards miss the mark for me in a few ways:
1. These are T430-style keyboards with no function key gaps. This makes them much less usable for a programmer or Office user who uses function keys extensively. It's really hard to find the right keys by touch.
2. There is no touchpad. I'm a TrackPoint maniac and never thought I would have much use for a touchpad. But the touchpad on my ThinkPads is great for one specific purpose: two-finger scrolling. I use this all the time even if I use the TrackPoint for everything else. It also makes it much easier when someone walks up to my desktop at work and wants to show me something and scroll through it. Even a Mac user will know how to scroll with a touchpad.
3. No backlight. I've gotten to really appreciate the backlit keyboards on all my recent machines - MBPR and ThinkPads - and I miss it on the USB keyboard.
If a new model of the USB keyboard added these features, I would replace my existing keyboards immediately.
The ThinkPad Bluetooth keyboard has the same problems. Of course backlighting might be bad for its battery life, and I can see an argument for keeping it compact and not adding a touchpad. But at the very least, both the USB and Bluetooth keyboards could be upgraded to a newer keyboard with the function key gaps. That alone would make a huge difference in usability.
07-10-2018 12:53 PM
07-11-2018 08:51 AM
The current ThinkPad USB keyboards miss the mark for me in a few ways... If a new model of the USB keyboard added these features...
4. Redesign the microUSB port that connects to the keyboard cable. The current design doesn't support the microUSB plug very well, er, at all. As a result the plug wiggles at lot as the keyboard gets moved around the desk. Eventually this can lead to a loose connection or even connector failure, rendering the keyboard useless. This is a serious mechanical point of failure. A sturdier, more secure design is needed.
07-18-2018 02:35 PM - edited 07-19-2018 08:46 PM
Great suggestion! I prefer the TrackPoint with my desktop computers too. I would like to see Lenovo offer something like you suggest. However, I do not care about a touch pad -- I just use the TrackPoint (even for scrolling).
My favorite TrackPoint keyboard is P/N 02R0400 (REV A01) MFG 03-NX.
This is a full size USB keyboard with a separate numeric keypad. It also has a small touch pad. I think you would call this a 7-row keyboard. It has Fn key gaps. It's really awesome. It would be even better with a backlight.
I would like to buy another one of these.
07-29-2018 02:20 AM
08-10-2018 06:23 PM - edited 08-10-2018 06:24 PM
Redesign the microUSB port that connects to the keyboard cable. The current design doesn't support the microUSB plug very well, er, at all. As a result the plug wiggles at lot as the keyboard gets moved around the desk. Eventually this can lead to a loose connection or even connector failure, rendering the keyboard useless. This is a serious mechanical point of failure. A sturdier, more secure design is needed.
Excellent point, I also noticed how wiggly the USB cable is.
I stumbled into a very nice workaround for this. Instead of a normal micro USB cable, use a right angle cable. This drastically reduces the stress on the keyboard's USB socket.
I bought this pair of cables to use for a specific purpose: at work we have "grab and go" ThinkPad Chromebooks that you can borrow. They are nice machines except that they have a Chromebook keyboard layout. I tried plugging in my USB ThinkPad keyboard and it worked fine, and then I got the idea of setting this keyboard right on top of the Chromebook keyboard. It didn't fit very well, but then I got the idea of using a cable with a right angle keyboard. It works great! And then I noticed how much less the plug wiggles even if you move the cable around.
The cables I linked are very short (as I bought them for this purpose), but cables like this come in various lengths. Highly recommended!
(I will post a photo of this setup later...)