The 7-Layer Keyboard - An End of an Era?

Discussion in 'Lenovo' started by LenovoGringo, May 16, 2011.

?

Which do you prefer in terms of FEEL alone?

  1. Traditional 7-Layer Keyboard

    64 vote(s)
    72.7%
  2. Chiclet Formfactor

    12 vote(s)
    13.6%
  3. Don't Know; Haven't tried both yet.

    12 vote(s)
    13.6%
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  1. LenovoGringo

    LenovoGringo Notebook Consultant

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    In terms of quality hardware, the Thinkpad is best known for its red nub and legendary keyboard. The keyboard often a topic when discussing the pros of the Thinkpad line of laptops. But has it reached an impasse?

    With the introduction of the Thinkpad chiclet keyboard, I think that the 7-layer has finally met its match. Although I haven't had any experience with one, the chiclet has received universal acclaim, with a large proportion of reviewers actually preferring the chiclet over the traditional format. When people are deciding over 'traditional' vs Edge Thinkpads, they list the chiclet as a pro.

    What makes the chiclet better? Will Lenovo eventually switch all Thinkpads to the chiclet format as seen with the X1 flagship Thinkpad? I've compiled a list of pros below:

    Traditional 7 Layer:
    [​IMG]

    Pros:
    1. Familiar Thinkpad Feel/Nostalgia
    2. More Keys; I use the "back" and "forward" keys a lot. Beats hitting the back button the browser or hitting backspace, the latter which doesn't always work.
    3. Hitting "F1" will do F1. Volume/Contrast/etc should be enabled by "Fn"; not the other way around as it seems in the chiclet.

    Modern Chiclet:
    [​IMG]

    Pros:
    1. Refined looks. The ugly blue "Enter" key is now black like it should be.
    2. Easier typing experience; long nails no longer pose a problem.
    3. Smaller keyboard format allows for larger trackpad and wristpad.
    4. Backlit keyboards are now possible.

    Is a new era upon us? The chiclet seems superior and if Lenovo wants to reduce costs, they may decide to ax the 7-layer right? But will only the "old-school" people miss it?

    The ultimate keyboard is not far off. I realize that Lenovo is not due for a retooling of the keyboards yet (T400s only came out a couple of years ago), but here are my suggestions for what should come.

    1. Keep the 7-layer format. I need all of my keys. Keep the large "delete." Keep the blue "Fn" keys and F1 equals F1. Some programs use the F keys a lot. I would hate to have to hit "Fn" F1 to do F1.
    2. All keys should be the same color. Blacken that "Enter."
    3. Backlit should be standard
    4. "Fn"/"Ctrl" issue has to be resolved. BIOS switch isn't going to cut it and both sides will never give up.

    My solution: Get rid of the "Fn" key altogether. This creates more space for "Crtl"/"Win"/"Alt"/"Space" etc. Add "Fn" functionality to the middle mouse button. Under the current color scheme, all "Fn" labels are blue. The middle mouse is also blue. Hitting and holding the middle mouse and then "F4" would put the laptop to sleep. This was meant to be. One hand affair, easy to locate in the dark, fast, easy, and won't disrupt current functions; Who currently needs to use the middle mouse and F keys? No cons. Everyone would like it and "Ctrl" will be in the right place for certain hand-wringing programs.

    5. Chiclet formfactor. I hate to say it, but it seems that it has no weaknesses. Easier on our female companions.

    I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this. Feel free to chime in on my questions/thoughts, or to root for your side of the issue. If you have comments on the design of the "ultimate" keyboard, please voice in.

    *UPDATE*

    For those who would like to go the extra mile and have access to BOTH chiclet and classic keyboards (I know, only a few will). Please take a few minutes and report you WPM score on this thread after visiting this site:

    Test #1: Traditional/Chiclet Keyboard
    FreeTypingGame.net - Timed Typing Test, a 1 to 5 minute Free Typing Test

    Just click "START." Type until 1 minute is up and record your time (the program will do all of the recording/timing automatically, just type!). To make the assessment fair, switch keyboards and go to:

    Test #2: Chiclet/Traditional Keyboard
    FreeTypingGame.net - Timed Typing Test, a 1 to 5 minute Free Typing Test

    It doesn't matter which keyboard you start/end with. Just so long that you end up using both. Each test is 1 minute long, so it shouldn't be too painful. I know that this is asking a lot on a forum, but I hope that the results will be interesting.

    Post times with the following format:

    Test #1: 52 WPM - Traditional/Chiclet
    Test #2: 52 WPM - Chiclet/Traditional

    Every now and then (if we get a lot of participants), I'll try to average the WPM times on this post.
     
  2. afhstingray

    afhstingray Notebook Prophet

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    for backlit alone, i'd take chicklet any day.
     
  3. John Ratsey

    John Ratsey Moderately inquisitive Super Moderator

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    1. The Fn - Ctrl dilemma can be solved if it is possible to physically swap the key caps as well as swapping the logic in the BIOS.

    2. I can't see why backlighting can't be applied to the 7 row keyboard. Dell has backlit and non-backlit options of its Latitude keyboards.

    3. I prefer the Pg Up and Pg Dn keys near the front of the keyboard.

    John
     
  4. sp00n

    sp00n Notebook Deity

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    i don't think you'll see island/chiclet style keyboards on the traditional T/X/W series for a while. these laptops tend to only have cpu/chipset refreshes and nothing else that's major. an exception would be the displays. the move from 16:10 screen to 16:9 isn't something that Lenovo can really control.

    you can look at dell latitudes and hp elitebooks. both companies haven't switched over their business laptops to the island/chiclet style.

    the x1, edge, etc., aren't in the line with the traditional lineup, so you may see some newer technologies on those model. tradtional in a sense that there's a lineage for the model. eg., x30, x40, x60, etc etc.
     
  5. MikesDell

    MikesDell Notebook Evangelist

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    I prefer the traditional Thinkpad keyboard. Not the new style checklist "Edge" design.
     
  6. LenovoGringo

    LenovoGringo Notebook Consultant

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    1. With the keys (Fn/Ctrl) being different sizes, I don't think it would be possible from an engineering standpoint.

    2. Probably possible, but it would make an already 'thick' keyboard even thicker, and everyone likes a thin laptop.
     
  7. infinus

    infinus Notebook Evangelist

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    I'd guess there's no backlighting due to the "spillproof" design. That's just a guess though.
     
  8. LenovoGringo

    LenovoGringo Notebook Consultant

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    The X1 keyboard is backlit and spill-proof, although it is a chiclet.
     
  9. Tsunade_Hime

    Tsunade_Hime such bacon. wow

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    Lenovo will never switch ThinkPads to chicklet. Only cheapo fake ThinkPads get them.
     
  10. John Ratsey

    John Ratsey Moderately inquisitive Super Moderator

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    The engineer's solution (I'm one) would be to make them the same size. :eek:

    John
     
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