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5884 Posts

11-24-2007

United States of America

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island vs. traditional keys - which do you prefer?

2010-02-23, 21:30 PM

after playing with an X100e and Edge 13 for the last two weeks, it got me thinking about the keyboards -- each of which have "island" keys.   to me they feel like traditional keys but my biggest hangup is in their aesthetics.   i personally prefer the look of traditional keys.

 

so, i'm curious which type of keys users prefer: island or traditional?   what are your thoughts on the look versus the feel of the keys?   or, for those who haven't used them, what are your thoughts on just the look?

ThinkStation P700      ThinkPad X1C7

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1041 Posts

03-10-2009

Michigan

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Re: island vs. traditional keys - which do you prefer?

2010-02-23, 23:50 PM

I'm prejudiced against chiclet / island keyboards. Perhaps because I learned to type on an IBM Selectric typewriter, I prefer a keyboard with:

 

  1. 100% keyboard pitch (7.5 inches for row of 10 keys);
  2. Contoured (concave) key surfaces, to keep fingers centered on the keys;
  3. Long key travel;
  4. Positive tactile feedback, so you can tell when you've pressed a key. (Buckling-spring key mechanism may be best.)
  5. Quiet key action -- which tends to conflict with point 4. (And was a moot point on the Selectric, whose metal typeball made enough racket to cover any keyboard noise. :smileywink: )
  6. Angled, "split" ergonomic configuration to lessen wrist strain and possible RSI.

When at my desk, I use a Goldtouch adjustable keyboard, which mostly satisfies the above points. The neat thing about this keyboard is that its shape can be adjusted to suit personal preference.

 

Laptop keyboards naturally must be simpler and more compact than the Goldtouch. ThinkPads have a reputation for having some of the best laptop keyboards -- in my opinion this is because they satisfy points 1-5 above.

 

Getting back to the chiclet question: All of the chiclet keyboards I've tried have been lacking, mostly in points 2-4 above. BUT according to this NBR review of the ThinkPad Edge, its chiclet-style keyboard is the first of its type to satisfy points 2-4. The reviewer says that if you type with your eyes closed, you might not even be able to tell the difference between the Edge's keyboard and more traditional ThinkPad keyboards like that of the T60. If so, then kudos to Lenovo! And in this case, it really does come down to aesthetic preference. As Erik is asking. :smileywink:

 

I'll still cast my crusty old guy vote for the traditional look.

 

But I can't help but be impressed that Lenovo seems to have been able to pull off the "modern" keyboard look without making the usual sacrifices in function.

 

-Frank

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Results of Your Ideal Business-Class Laptop survey, concluded 2009-07-29.

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5884 Posts

11-24-2007

United States of America

12810 Signins

291275 Page Views

  • Posts: 5884
  • Registered: ‎11-24-2007
  • Location: United States of America
  • Views: 291275
  • Message 3 of 3

Re: island vs. traditional keys - which do you prefer?

2010-02-24, 0:16 AM

perhaps this will help...

 

1. the Edge keyboard has a 19.5mm pitch -- the same as all other full-size ThinkPads

2. both the X100e and Edge have contoured keys with the same concave as traditional ThinkPads

3. the Edge has full key travel (2.5mm), the X100e is slightly shorter (2mm)

4. both keyboards feel, for the most part, like traditional ThinkPad keyboards

5. the keys are quiet

6. n/a to ThinkPad keyboards

 

so, it mainly comes down to how the key shapes feel under your fingers (since the "pressable surface" is larger) and the aesthetics.

 

i'll try to get some photos of the keyboards tonight or tomorrow for comparison.

 

thanks, frank!

 

keep the comments coming!

ThinkStation P700      ThinkPad X1C7

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