11-14-2009 04:58 PM
It seems as if there is a lot of information, both old and new, about an issue with T500 keyboards. In November of 2009 I purchased a new T500 to replace my old but reliable TP600. I configured my new T500 to order with Win 7 as well as the best graphics option and the 3.06 processor. Although many of the posts say that the keyboard issue has been resolved on the newer models, I don't think this is the case, as my T500 seems to have an odd 'non solid feeling' to the left side keys, particularly keys: r,e,w,q, f,d,s,a,v,c,x, and z. I am not sure if I should call customer support about this issue and is there a keyboard replacement available that is more consistent feeling like my old TP600?
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11-20-2009 09:25 AM
Well, I did not receive any replies back, but I did some more research, both here, in the forums, and on line, and here is what I learned.
Evidently the T500's are now being built with a keyboard that has a vented backing plate with a lot of openings to release heat from the processor. Some in the forums have taken pictures of this new keyboard and referred to it as the 'Swiss cheese' design. In addition, to quell complaints, Lenovo has also added a inside, to the left side of the T500 so that the keyboard will rest on this and eliminate some of the sag to the left side keys.
Right out of the box, my T500 exhibited a bad sag and flex downward to the left side keys. Further inspection revealed that I had the new improved bracket and the vented or 'Swiss cheese' style keyboard. I found that the part number on my keyboard is 42T4034 with a FRU of 42T4066. I saw that some owners had modified their machine with felt pads placed in specific areas under the keyboard but I did not want to do that, being that this is a brand new 1,600 + machine. Further forum research revealed that some people were replacing their keyboard with the older, solid backing plate design from the T61 which is FRU 42T3209.
I called Lenovo tec support and spoke with an employee. I described the problem with the left side keyboard flex and the employee insisted that this issue was 'normal' and that all he could do was send me another 42T4066 keyboard which would be the same. I asked if he could ship me keyboard 42T3209 and he stated that he could not authorize this under warranty as it is not the correct replacement part number for my T500.
I advised the tec employee that I was not satisfied with the keyboard design and that it definitely was 'not normal' and that I have never used a keyboard, lap top or desktop, that had such inconsistency in pressure from right side to left side. (And to think, IBM ThinkPads used to be known for their excellent keyboard 'feel'). In any event, I insisted that I wanted to send the laptop in to have this checked and the employee then, reluctantly, stated that he would ship me an overnight box. Since this was a Sunday, I received the box Tuesday and shipped it right out. I just got my T500 back today and I have to admit that Lenovo has won my confidence back!
Inside the box with my machine was the normal paperwork that they send when they service a machine under warranty. The document provided stated that they repaired the keyboard, updated the BIOS and performed PC Doctor Diagnostics.
A peek inside the machine revealed that they had replaced the keyboard with one that has the firmer backing plate with less openings. I found the part number on the one they used was not the T61 number listed above but part number 42T3241 with a FRU of 42T3273.
Regardless, this keyboard is much better now with no flex to the left side buttons. Now I finally have a ThinkPad keyboard! Some people have commented that the left side buttons have a 'clickier' sound than the right side. That is true and is the same with this keyboard but the noise difference from side to side is not an issue to me at all.
Although I believe that anyone that calls Lenovo customer service, should not have to insist that this condition is not normal. I believe that this is a well documented customer stratification issue and I think Lenovo should have built the T500's with this keyboard in the first place to avoid a warranty trip back to their repair center within the first week of ownership. Plus, look at the inconvenience for the owner as well as the cost to Lenovo to overnight a package both ways plus parts and labor.
In the end, I am satisfied that Lenovo did eventually correct my problem. After all, that's why I purchase ThinkPads in the first place. I always tell people they are the Cadillac of laptops.
Good luck to all and I hope this info helps.