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Best Laptop keyboard - any recommandations ?
Thread poster: Bertrand Malingrey

Bertrand Malingrey  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:52
Member (2009)
English to French
+ ...
Apr 4, 2011

Hello,

I'm shopping for a new laptop. I bought one online last week and promptly returned it..silly me just looked at specs such as processor hard drive and graphics and forgot the most important thing...the keyboard ! That is one of the cons of buying online, you can't "feel" the keyboard. Lesson learned now...before buying online try to check the model in a store and type a few paragraphs.
The laptop I bought was an Asus N73. 17 inches, Core i5, Bang & Olufsen audio...everything was great about it until I unpacked it and found out the keyboard was made out of sponge, wasn't rigid at all - it bent seriously, making typing unresponsive...and worst of all, the keys were lined up without any separation between them, not even the usual jagged edge. Which meant missing the center of the key would immediately result in the desired letter + the neighbour letter. A big no-no. I don't recommend it, unless you have marksman skills and never miss the bullseye of your keys. I don't have such skills, and since I'm spending up to 14 hours a day on my keyboard I need something comfortable and responsive. Currently using a Dell Vostro, the keyboard is good, fast and forgives imprecise hits, after 3 years it sort of became an extension of my fingers.

If you guys have recommendations for a nice notebook with a great keyboard, share them here !

Cheers !


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 18:52
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Proper keyboard Apr 4, 2011

I'm a bit of a keyboard maniac and I can tell you there has never been and there never will be a really good laptop keyboard. In the interest of saving space, manufacturers settle for flat scissor switches over membranes. Not terrible, but not good either.

If you spend up to 14 hours a day in the same chair, there is no excuse for not setting down a proper keyboard in front of that chair. People who travel have to settle for a laptop keyboard, you don't.
So my suggestion is: get a real (USB) keyboard to go with your laptop. Get a real screen, too (20 inches at least). The cost is not that huge and the advantages are easily worth it in my opinion. If you work at home anyway, it makes no sense at all to use the laptop's subpar keyboard and small screen (which is also way too low down for proper posture).

Some of the best keyboards are:
- IBM Model M with buckling spring switches. A true classic, you can buy 10-20 year old used specimens which are still fine, or newly manufactured ones from Unicomp. Very loud, very tactile, very stiff keys (they take quite a bit of force to press). Pretty cheap, $10 to $50 used and $69 new from the US.
- Cherry brown switches. Very light touch, very smooth action, not too loud. Still louder than "normal" keyboards, though. This switch is my personal favourite. The best (widely available) brand is Filco, the cheapest is Cherry.
- Cherry blue switches. Heavier and more tactile than browns, very loud. Also available in Cherry and Filco keyboards as well as a couple of others.

You can probably get a Cherry with the French layout for about 70 EUR shipped from amazon, or a Filco (much better in my opinion) for about 110 from keyboardco - once they come back in stock. Expensive, but they are far superior to the scissor switches on any laptop.

If you really insist on using a laptop keyboard, Lenovo Thinkpads have the best reputation of all.


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Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 19:52
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
USB keyboard is an option Apr 4, 2011

When I was buying my laptop, I also bought a stand-alone USB keyboard - and you can choose the one that suits you!

It means that it is of almost no importance to me now what keyboard the laptop is equipped with.


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Zoltán Kulcsár  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:52
English to Hungarian
IBM (Lenovo), Dell, MacBook Apr 4, 2011

at that order, at least in my experience. Of course you should try it before you buy it:)

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Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:52
Polish to English
+ ...
My solution: a separate keyboard Apr 4, 2011

I use an 'office standard' light grey (beige?) keyboard connected to my 15.6" screen laptop.

Three reasons:
1. Laptop keyboards are not designed for a long-time typing work. First of all: the strength is low - that's beside of the fact that I have heavy fingers and hit the keys hard.
2. The laptop keyboard pattern is different than the 'office standard' (in particular: cursor, Del, Ins) which I don't like (well, with a possible exception for 17" laptops).
3. Laptop keyboards are black or dark grey which I don't like (just try to find a laptop with a non-black keyboard - a difficult task unless you decide for Apple or Sony which are gloss white.)

A separate keyboard solves all my objections against laptop keyboards.
AM


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Bertrand Malingrey  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:52
Member (2009)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
lesson learned ! Apr 4, 2011

Yes indeed..the local stores now refer to me as "the keyboard torturer". I'm not impressed by Asus, Acer, Hp and Packard Bell so far...way too soft for my hammering. Tells me I should stay away from consumer products and maybe look for something in the Professional segment.
Most impressed by Apple keyboards so far, but not willing to give up Windows nor pay the brand premium for average specs and a rather small screen. Haven't seen a Lenovo yet, but that's a lead, thank you.


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Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
+ ...
Dell Apr 4, 2011

Dell Latitude or Lenovo business series have great keyboards.

I have used Dell Latitude D410, D430, D620 and now have E4300 and they all have great keyboards with no flexibility and good feedback.


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:52
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
A related issue Apr 4, 2011

This doesn't directly answer your question, but may interest some readers following this thread. In brief: a separate plug-in (USB) keyboard.

Longer answer: My laptop is a Toshiba Satellite Pro (several years old but it suits my current needs, and I also have a desktop PC with a "conventional" keyboard). The Toshiba keyboard has reasonably good, not spongy, keys, but...
A couple of years ago I bought a separate keyboard which I plug into a USB port of the laptop.
(This one:
http://www.labtec.com/index.cfm/gear/details/EUR/EN,crid=28,contentid=692
That page states "CD-ROM drive" in the specifications. I think it means CD-ROM driver, but I didn't need to use that for the standard keyboard functions)
This is a very compact keyboard (made by Labtec), 40 cm wide (my desktop PC's keyboard is 46 cm wide) and my main reason for acquiring it is the separate numeric keypad. Although I translate into English, I sometimes need to type acccented letters, which I usually do by using the numeric keypad (Alt+0233 for é, Alt+0252 for ü etc.); the ordinary number keys of the keyboard cannot be used for this. On the laptop's own keyboard (I think this applies to all laptops) it is possible to simulate the numeric keypad but with some problems because I have to put the keyboard into "numeric keypad mode" (Fn+F11), which then changes the function of about 15 of the standard keys (7, 8, 9, 0, U, I, O, P...).

I hope this is of interest to somebody!

Oliver


[Edited at 2011-04-04 10:00 GMT]


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Bertrand Malingrey  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:52
Member (2009)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
numpad Apr 4, 2011

I'm looking for a 17" with numpad. I've always used laptops with a numpad and can't imagine life without one. The extensive use of accents in French would make the switching between numbers and accentuated characters a nightmare, and the shift key would give up the ghost in a matter of months...Some 16" have a numpad but everything feels too crammed and the ins/home/end keys are very impractically located.
The external keyboard is a good workaround, but the idea is not to have to revert to workarounds and get a good built-in keyboard. More torturing expected in the next few days...


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:52
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
I am more than happy with my Sony Vaio Apr 4, 2011

When I bought my laptop half a year ago the keyboard was one of the first things I thought about. There were a few laptops that met my other expectations however I had to rule out all Acers due to narrow spacing between keys and most importantly - narrow spacing between the numpad and the rest of the keyboard which meant I would constantly miss the enter and back keys (I had tried typing on my mum’s Acer and did not get very far). HPs were out of question for me as my previous HP was cooked (reached an impressive 100 degrees C only after 7 months of use) and having checked the "bottom" of every single HP displayed in the store I concluded that this was not an isolated incident - they were all considerably hotter than any other make.

In the end I settled on Sony Vaio and even though I had to take one back due to overexcited touchpad and eventually upgraded to one of the most expensive models, I must admit I am still looking a bit misty eyed when I speak of my laptop half a year after first acquiring it. Apart from all other brilliant things about it, the keyboard is really just the right thing, especially since I type like a maniac without even looking at the keyboard in the process.

Ines


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:52
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
What you shouldn't buy... Apr 4, 2011

... I tried this virtual keyboard the other day in a shop
http://www.engadget.com/photos/acer-iconia-windows-7-dual-screen-tablet-and-clear-fi-media-sharing/#3601888
I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. It felt slightly warm to the touch, and, of course, I didn't have a clue which key I was on because it's just a glass screen.

Thought it could be worth mentioning here. Has anyone else met it and liked it?


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Karol Kacprzak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:52
English to Polish
+ ...
Samsung Apr 4, 2011

Hi!
Have you maybe tried Samsung? I happen to have Samsung R720, 17" with numpad. The keyboard is kinda "different", but it's just brilliant. And liquid-proof to some extent (at least they say so, haven't really tested ^^)

Cheers,
Karol


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 18:52
English to Hungarian
+ ...
you have that backwards Apr 4, 2011

Bertrand Malingrey wrote:
The external keyboard is a good workaround, but the idea is not to have to revert to workarounds and get a good built-in keyboard.


The built-in keyboard is a decent workaround, but the idea is to only use it when you really must... At least that's how I see it. All laptop keyboards use scissor switches with short travel due to space costraints, so they feel pretty similar and pretty mediocre. Some are better, some are worse, but they are all in the same broad category.


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Laurie Price  Identity Verified
Mexico
Spanish to English
+ ...
I also have a "heavy touch" Apr 4, 2011

and bought a Logitech keyboard that I use w/my hp laptop. I like it -- it accommodates my old-fashioned style of banging away at the keys. It also has little legs so is at a slight tilt, and that's better for me too.

I don't know what kinds of computer stores you have where you're located, but try & find a big "package store" computer store where they carry a number of brands so you can check them out is my advice. That's what I did.


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Dayse Batista  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sony Vaio laptop Apr 4, 2011

Burrell wrote:


In the end I settled on Sony Vaio and even though I had to take one back due to overexcited touchpad and eventually upgraded to one of the most expensive models, I must admit I am still looking a bit misty eyed when I speak of my laptop half a year after first acquiring it. Apart from all other brilliant things about it, the keyboard is really just the right thing, especially since I type like a maniac without even looking at the keyboard in the process.

Ines


I am also a huge fan of Sony Vaio, with its oh-so-soft keys, not one of them making any kind of contact with the other, very simple to clean. Since I bought my Vaio, I forgot that in the past I was never satisfied, no matter how many keyboards I had.


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