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Re: Island 6-row keyboards coming to Thinkpads - your opinions?

2012-07-27, 4:47 AM



I've purchased a T530 based on the processing power the new Ivy 3820QM holds, which is the biggest selling point for me at this time (and Lenovo offered some pretty low prices compared with other brands that have business class laptops with the 3rd-gen Intel processors, like EliteBooks at HP). Obviously, the new keyboard design was not a dealbreaker for me because I've made a purchase, but it's a wait-and-see at this point as for my opinions on the usability and the feeling of the design.


Been using ThinkPads for a decade now and their keyboard was one of the biggest things I liked and one of the originally selling points, specifically the Fn key location, the action on the keys, and the four-button split on the F key rows, giving a great programming-friendly interface. I will say, though, that I was only sold on the ThinkPad keyboard in 2003 because a classmate of mine had one, and I was able to use it on occasion. I still, to this day, cannot find a vendor (even Micro Center here in Cincinnati) that has ThinkPads on display.


That being said, my only familiarity with chiclet/island-style keyboards is pretty much with display models. I also come from a family of Apple-crazies and I've used their PowerBooks and MacBooks and their fancy island-style keys. I was never a fan of them. I tried some Lenovo brand laptops (IdeaPads?) that were on display here in town and they felt cheaper than any keyboard I've ever used. However, I actually sat down with a co-worker yesterday and did some programming on his Dell. I'm not sure what model it is, but it's brand new and pretty slick. Not a fan of the laptop, but as far as actually sitting down and using the chiclet/island style keys for real work, not just playing around on a display model, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I didn't hate it. The positive reviews I've heard from people who actually have these new ThinkPad keyboards (as far as the feel of the keys) and my experience yesterday on my co-worker's computer have me more hopeful than I previously was.

ThinkPad T60p Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 1x100GB HDD
ThinkStation S20 Xeon-W3670, 12GB RAM, 1x500GB HDD, 1x1TB HDD

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  • Message 42 of 85

Re: Island 6-row keyboards coming to Thinkpads - your opinions?

2012-08-07, 2:14 AM



I've tried the island keyboard and I like the feeling better than the previous keyboards, but it is an issue of aesthetics for me. It doesn't look like a thinkpad now because the industrial design has been tampered with. It just looks awkward and cheap and that's one reason I will not buy it. The other reason is ethical, this change to chiclet keys was obviously only made for cheap economical reasons. A few cents cheaper made a bean counter happy somewhere and that was the only thing that mattered. This is not someone I'd do business with because I would get the worst parts, literally.


It's heading the wrong way and I will use my wallet to get the point through. You should have gone with doubleshot legends on the keys and hocked those up to short-throw topres. Then increased the price.


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  • Message 43 of 85

Re: Island 6-row keyboards coming to Thinkpads - your opinions?

2012-08-15, 18:24 PM



I really dislike the cheapening of the once-legendary Thinkpad keyboard, it may have been a good idea to offer both keyboards at once and give the option to the consumer.  I would easily be willing to spend more money to have the classic keyboard. 


I convinced my company to switch to Thinkpads from Dell's Latitude line (mostly because I wanted one!), I will not be making this recommendation on the next cycle.


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  • Message 44 of 85

Re: Island 6-row keyboards coming to Thinkpads - your opinions?

2012-08-30, 10:33 AM


I vote a 5!


I gave the new keyboard an honest try....absolutely HATE IT!!!!! If Lenovo doesn't offer the old style keyboard, my Lenovo T420s will be the last Lenovo laptop for me.


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  • Message 45 of 85

Re: Island 6-row keyboards coming to ThinkPads - your opinions?

2012-09-05, 6:11 AM



Unfortunately I purchased a T430s without realizing that Lenovo had changed the keyboard layout; it would have been a deal-breaker for me. The reality is that I naively didn't think to check the keyboard layout when making the purchase. Would Lenovo really screw with one of the classic design features of the ThinkPad?


Of course, I read about the island-style and backlit keys. Those changes seemed evolutionary and even positive, as long as the keys kept the same ThinkPad feel. In this, and only this, regard, I think the island-style keyboard on my T430s works.


However, I agree with what's been said repeatedly in this discussion. Given that the T series has always been targeted toward business users, my initial thought is that they would not have wanted to alienate their user base by making such a dramatic change to the interface. But, sadly, time moves on and traditional ThinkPad users get older and older, while more business users are increasingly likely to have grown up in the golden age of Apple and the Macbook keyboard. Ultimately I can't fault Lenovo for making a more Mac-like keyboard as they attempt to attract new, younger customers, even for their traditionally business-focused products.


Yet, given the strong base of users who have become so accustomed to the traditional ThinkPad keyboard layout, I still think Lenovo should have made the 7-row keyboard available as an option; heck, I would have happily paid more for it.


In my opinion, there are several short-comings of the new keyboard which have largely been identified already, elsewhere in this discussion. For posterity:


1: Elimination of the traditional Home / End / Pg Up / Pg Dn orientation


And I thought I hated the relocation of the Insert key and the new girth of the Delete key on the T410...


For a laptop which targets business users, the utility of these keys for navigating Excel worksheets and workbooks cannot be understated. For those of us who use the keyboard for 99% of the things we do in Excel, moving those keys to seemingly arbitrary spots on the keyboard just seems poorly thought out, at best. The also affects navigation in web browsers (as does getting rid of the Forward and Backward keys, which previously made a lot of sense in the cluster of cursor keys).


To be fair, with the new menu layout in Excel 2007/2010, it seems that Lenovo isn't alone in its ignorance.


Nevertheless, as egregious of a mistake as moving the Pg Up and Pg Dn away from the Home and End keys was, moving each set of keys NEXT to each other simply goes against all common sense.


For Home and End, OK, they've been vertically oriented since the 1984 IBM Model M (and perhaps before), but I guess there's no intuitive reason why the start of something would be above the end, and if you're talking about text, left to right maybe makes sense. For Page UP and Page DOWN however, they pretty much tell you where they should be relative to each another.


Since they made the changes they did, why not just go all the way and put the cursor keys in a nice row too?


This guy gets it: http://www.1000irritatingthings.com/archives/123


2. Rearranging of the Fn keys


This seems to be a needless change, even with the 6-row layout. For as long as I can remember, screen brightness on a ThinkPad was controlled by Fn+Home/End, now it's Fn+F8/F9? What the?


Couldn't they have left the assignment of the functions alone? I understand that they needed to add some new function keys for Play, FF, RW and the Camera/Telemarketer Headset thing. And, that they probably needed four empty function keys for that. Well, what about the F8-F11 keys on the previous keyboard and leaving the brightness control where it was?


Also, the ThinkLight controlled by two keys at the far corners of the keyboard always made sense in an environment where you would want to use the ThinkLight, like in the dark. I suppose the Fn+Space is still an easy-to-find key combination, but again a needless change in my opinion.


3. Construction of the F keys


Again for Excel users, F2 is perhaps the most often used key (it's literally the only key on my office keyboard on which the printing has been worn away). It helps when it's easy to find by touch and not part of a sliced up block of plastic.


Further, I'm sure the F keys are equally important for users of a variety of other applications as well. This seems to be a simple case of form over function.


Ultimately, I think think rectifying these three problems would go a long way to pleasing a lot of loyal ThinkPad users while allowing Lenovo to keep up with the times. Not to mention keep what has been consistently praised as the best keyboard in the industry as the best keyboard in the industry.


Now, I do realize I'm preaching to the choir here, but I'm also writing in hopes that some bold user interface designer from Lenovo reads it and at least gives it some thought. I presume the keyboard for the T440 is already locked into the design, but maybe the T450 will give Lenovo a chance to win back some customers. Keep the backlit, island-style keys, just be more aware of how your customers are using your products.


Unfortunately, I partly think they might be aware of how their customers are using their products and all the reasons that I, and the traditional ThinkPad users, appreciated the old keyboard are becoming less relevant. I really have no idea how much use modern programming environments make of F keys or navigation keys. Bloggers certainly use them less than your typical Excel geek.


Hopefully though, enough folks are making noise about this to at least provoke some thought inside Lenovo about one of the key things which made the ThinkPad such a great business tool for so many years.


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  • Message 46 of 85

Re: Island 6-row keyboards coming to ThinkPads - your opinions?

2012-09-05, 15:47 PM
"Also, the ThinkLight controlled by two keys at the far corners of the keyboard always made sense in an environment where you would want to use the ThinkLight, like in the dark. I suppose the Fn+Space is still an easy-to-find key combination, but again a needless change in my opinion." They have done this, because you can now turn the backlight or the ThinkLight with one hand on.

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  • Message 47 of 85

Re: Island 6-row keyboards coming to Thinkpads - your opinions?

2012-12-02, 8:34 AM


Fortunately there is a lot and extensive feedback from all the people so I only need to remind a few more relevant things.


The quality of the 7 row classic IBM keyboard is a well known fact, a universal truth. One could compare the T42, T43 keyboards with the following T60, T61 and say that the change was negligible. Another can compare the T500 keyboard with that of T520 and say that the slip is bearable.

For me the last time the X series had a good keyboard was with X201.

But now with xx30 series... personally I cannot buy a keyboard like that. I cannot type with a keyboard like that.

When I'll need a new laptop I will probably go with a T520 or a W520 - just because of that fact. 


Or wait for the xx40 series - who knows!

I don't mention all the missing keys issues - everybody here was more elaborate.


Definitely a 5.






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  • Message 48 of 85

Re: Island 6-row keyboards coming to Thinkpads - your opinions?

2012-12-03, 13:33 PM

I vote a 5.


I received a T430 as a replacement to my old T400 as my new work device (they only use Lenovo). I am extremely disappointed with the UK keyboard layout to such an extent that it now makes my work slower. I am a power keyboard user, resorting to using the mouse when I have to since it is too slow for me (I love keyboard shortcuts, etc.). They seem to have placed the importance of cosmetics over usability which I think is completely wrong for this device. I also don't like that Home and End, and PgUp and PgDown used to be above and below each other, now they are side-by-side which is counter-intuitive.


This is a summary with what I have found the differences to be:

Numpad - gone

SysRq - gone (Apparently Fn+S does this)

ScrLk - gone! (Apparently Fn+K does this)

NmLk - gone

Pause - gone (Apparently Fn+P does this)

Break - gone! (Apparenly Fn+B does this)

Page Back - gone!

Page Forward - gone!

Context Menu (right-click) - gone! (Apparently Shift+F10 does this)

PrtSc - moved to where context menu was

PgUp - moved to where Page Back was

PgDown - moved to where Page Forward was

Special Function (Fn+) keys have moved around:

- Windows Lock Fn+F2 -> Fn+F3

- Power settings (Fn+F3) - gone!

- Webcam - new on Fn+F6

- Mouse (Fn+F8) - gone

- Eject (Fn+F8) - gone

- Hibernate (Fn+F12) - gone!

- Contrast Up (Fn+Home) -> Fn+F9

- Contrast Down (Fn+End) -> Fn+F8

- Light (Fn+PgUp) -> Fn+Space

- Track Skip Back (Fn+Left Arrow) -> Fn+F10

- Track Skip Next (Fn+Right Arrow) -> Fn+F12

- Play/Pause (Fn+Down Arrow) -> Fn+F11

- Stop (Fn+Up Arrow) -> gone


There are also a lot fewer indicator lights:

Bluetooth - gone

WAN - gone

Caps lock - gone

Num lock - gone

Power indicator - gone

battery indicator - only on outside of case

Mains indicator - gone

Sleep indicator - only on outside of case


In my opinion, this is a huge step backwards in usability, as this unit is supposed to be mobile I cannot carry around a keyboard to get the additional keys I used to use all the time. I am now looking to see if there is any sort of upgrade to a 'normal' keyboard. And seeking to exchange my new laptop for something else.


If I was purchasing this device myself this would be more than enough for me to look elsewhere. Come on Lenovo what on earth are you thinking? Get real!


Very angry and spreading the word NOT to buy or choose this device.


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  • Message 49 of 85

Re: Island 6-row keyboards coming to Thinkpads - your opinions?

2012-12-03, 13:36 PM
Totall agree with you on this one. I only use the keyboard as using the mouse is too slow and dont look at the keyboard when I type, this is screwing me up too :(

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  • Message 50 of 85

Re: Island 6-row keyboards coming to Thinkpads - your opinions?

2012-12-06, 22:05 PM

I'm a little late to the game here as I have put off getting a new laptop until now.   I have owned a T42 and T61.  I tried a T530, but it is too mushy for my liking


I'll vote 5.  





Might I suggest Option 7?    Provide a premium option for the Classic Style keyboard of future models. 

I'll gladly pay an upcharge for a classic style keyboard.  

That way, they could have the best of both worlds. 

Has anybody tried to hack a T520 keyboard into a T530?   I know it wouldn't be easy, but it might prove a point.


If we don't make our concerns known, nothing will change.  




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