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 Post subject: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:11 pm 
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So I am reading some blogs about the CES tradeshow and it seems that the next generation T-series will be using the chiclet style used on the Edge series. Am I reading this correctly, or does this mean the end of the traditional Thinkpad keyboard?

At least we still have the trackpoint.

http://www.anandtech.com/Gallery/Album/1648

Image

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:36 pm 
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jdk wrote:
it seems that the next generation T-series will be using the chiclet style used on the Edge series. Am I reading this correctly.....

They are showing a prototype of a "u" model ultrabook with those keys.

"u" is a new confifuration for the T Series, so extrapolating that would apply for the entire T series is a huge leap. Its also a long time until the new models are due for release, and who knows what may happen between a trade show prototype exposure and FCS (first commercial ship) of the product.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:11 pm 
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I certainly hope so. I haven't used the Thinkpad chiclet keyboard so I cannot comment to its quality, but if its anything like the MacBook Air or the new Elitebooks, I think it's a step back.

Anyway, just trying to get some discussion going on the new models. Besides the keyboard, that T430 ultrabook looks very clean.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:50 pm 
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It's probably inevitable that chiclet keyboard will take over both mainstream T- and X-series. Not too many PC notebook builders left with selectric-styled keyboard for notebook.


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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:37 am 
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I am somewhat heartened that Lenovo's own web-site accepts user reviews and the X220, with the old-style keyboard and IPS screen option, consistently gets some of the highest marks. Would Lenovo look at those, I wonder?

I hate Apple keyboards but, if I'm honest, it's the revised function key spacing and consolidation of navigation keys that probably throws me the most on 6-row keyboards. Even the revised 7-row keyboard, with the tighter spacing and the enlarged Esc and Del keys was, at best, a step sideways for me. I'm talking about the function keys being moved over, the smaller gaps between each 4 function keys and the tighter gaps between keys in general, particularly the Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys, which are less tapered than on older keyboards. For all the care and thought that went into the current 7-row design, it's actually slightly worse for me on a personal level. Now this? Here's to hoping keyboards at least stay the same on the mainstream (non-thin) models for another year or two.


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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:42 am 
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jdk wrote:
I certainly hope so. I haven't used the Thinkpad chiclet keyboard so I cannot comment to its quality, but if its anything like the MacBook Air or the new Elitebooks, I think it's a step back.


I have used them (albeit not on the T430u). They're nothing like the MBA or Elitebook keyboards.

It's also worth remembering that the T430u mechanical isn't finalized. It's unlikely that there will be massive changes, but it's certainly far from a done deal. At the very least the shiny plastic trim and the glossy screen will be replaced with matte equivalents. They island keyboard is unlikely to go away, but it may receive some tweaks.

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 Post subject: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:46 pm 
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Unless it's tweaked to have a 7-row layout with everything in its usual spot, I'm not interested in it and have a hard time seeing it as a real ThinkPad.

Perhaps we need a new section for ThinkPad Lite...

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:56 am 
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As I type this from my new X120e, I feel the need to say that I certainly stand corrected regarding the chiclet keyboard. First of all, apologies for referring to it as a chiclet keyboard, I understand why some of you use the term "island" instead. Typing on this keyboard might possibly be the best "feel" that I have had on any laptop. I've owned 6 Thinkpads in the past year as well as an Elitebook and a MacBook air, and this keyboard tops all of them. Absolutely no flex at all. Forgive me for not knowing the proper terms for describing keyboard use. One thing that I don't like is that the PgUp/PgDown keys are in the wrong place, but I understand that was done for size issues. No clue if the new T-series will follow suit, but if they keep the same conventional layout, I believe it will be an upgrade.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:01 pm 
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I see you have a Macbook Air. Please tell me the X120e keyboard is better than that. Markedly better, I hope? I had a Macbook. One of the things that killed it for me was that the keys were ever so slightly recessed within the metal frame when fully depressed. This may have been due to poor manufacturing tolerances rather than design. If you didn't hit a key dead-on, you would hit the key and the metal beside it and not completely depress the key. Even though it would still register, this made for a bad typing experience.


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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:46 pm 
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FragrantHead wrote:
I see you have a Macbook Air. Please tell me the X120e keyboard is better than that. Markedly better, I hope? I had a Macbook. One of the things that killed it for me was that the keys were ever so slightly recessed within the metal frame when fully depressed. This may have been due to poor manufacturing tolerances rather than design. If you didn't hit a key dead-on, you would hit the key and the metal beside it and not completely depress the key. Even though it would still register, this made for a bad typing experience.


I've used both the MacBook keyboards and the X100e keyboard fairly recently, and I can say without a doubt that the X100e's "chiclet" design is vastly superior.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:03 pm 
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FragrantHead wrote:
I see you have a Macbook Air. Please tell me the X120e keyboard is better than that. Markedly better, I hope? I had a Macbook. One of the things that killed it for me was that the keys were ever so slightly recessed within the metal frame when fully depressed. This may have been due to poor manufacturing tolerances rather than design. If you didn't hit a key dead-on, you would hit the key and the metal beside it and not completely depress the key. Even though it would still register, this made for a bad typing experience.


That almost describes the MacBook Air problem. On my MBA, the keys are still above the metal frame when fully depressed, but because they are flat on top and the vertical play is so short, you have to hit the key almost in the center to register a response. Not so with the X120e. The keys are higher and concave, which yields a wider margin of error. Probably sacrilege around here, but the X120e reminds me of a baby Model-M keyboard (I rescued one from the salvage room and use it daily at work).

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:19 pm 
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FragrantHead wrote:
One of the things that killed it for me was that the keys were ever so slightly recessed within the metal frame when fully depressed. This may have been due to poor manufacturing tolerances rather than design.


Actually, this *is* by design. See my comments below.

jdk wrote:
That almost describes the MacBook Air problem. On my MBA, the keys are still above the metal frame when fully depressed, but because they are flat on top and the vertical play is so short, you have to hit the key almost in the center to register a response. Not so with the X120e. The keys are higher and concave, which yields a wider margin of error.


The main rationale behind the chiclet keyboard is that it is thinner than traditional laptop keyboards, so that the laptop can be made thinner, but the downside is that the keys are uncomfortable to type on. As jdk noticed, the X120e's keyboard feels better because the keys are taller and curved slightly. As Lenovo starts to make ultrathin Thinkpads (e.g. this T430u), I bet they will start using MBA-like chiclet keyboards, i.e. they too will feel inferior to the X120e keyboard.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:23 pm 
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prepare for the X1 keyboard to takeover.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:48 pm 
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lead_org wrote:
prepare for the X1 keyboard to takeover.


I agree that chichlet keyboard is inevitable. Lenovo is last to maintain selectric-style keyboard, but it makes their computer look dated. They are the last holdovers among big notebook builders.

So they are bound to switch over completely at some point. It may be that some models in T & X-series will maintain selectric-styled keyboard in 2012 redesigns but it may be the last year. It was the similar story with 4:3 aspect ratio displays.


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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:40 am 
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I would consider it a chance to make a good difference towards competitors,
when keeping the classic 7-row keyboard and the 4:3 form factor.
There is lots of room with non-Thinkpad brands, to use chicklets and widescreen.

I had a case, where normal computer user, I mean not a Thinkpad fan,
asked for his old X31 to be brought back, because he didnt like the chicklet
keyboard in the newish laptop replacement.

Besides, and not connected to this case, the worn classic keyboard
in the X31 is still better than some classic keyboards in T60 or T500s!

Personally I am very disappointed to a chicklet keyboard in the T430u.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:50 am 
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sanjuro wrote:
I agree that chichlet keyboard is inevitable. Lenovo is last to maintain selectric-style keyboard, but it makes their computer look dated. They are the last holdovers among big notebook builders.

So they are bound to switch over completely at some point. It may be that some models in T & X-series will maintain selectric-styled keyboard in 2012 redesigns but it may be the last year. It was the similar story with 4:3 aspect ratio displays.

Yes, but unlike with 4:3 displays, there is no objective reason of part availability, since every laptop manufacturer makes its own keyboards. It's just a design decision, and one that every company is free to take. If Lenovo chooses to give in to peer pressure to make their laptops look less dated, they might as well stop manufacturing them altogether.

My problem is not with chiclet per se, but with the changes to keyboard layout.

And everything I've seen suggests that we'll see the chiclet layout already in the upcoming generation of T/X series, and that will be the end of the classic Thinkpad keyboard. :(

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:00 pm 
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dr_st wrote:
And everything I've seen suggests that we'll see the chiclet layout already in the upcoming generation of T/X series, and that will be the end of the classic Thinkpad keyboard. :(


So now might be a bad time to point out that the "classic" ThinkPad keyboard has undergone many changes throughout its history, and that not all of them even had seven rows?

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:19 pm 
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I honestly can say that I haven't seen a change as significant as this one would be.

Even the 486-SX2 Thinkpad I've played back in 1995 had virtually the same layout. The mechanicals were very different, of course.

If you remember the heated discussions we've had here when the T400s keyboard was introduced with big Escape and Delete keys, you may also remember how they were talking about it on Lenovo Blogs, explaining how they've done research to improve the keyboard. It's bitter irony that after all this research and improvement, in their own words, they are seemingly ditching it altogether in just two generations...

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:26 pm 
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dr_st wrote:
I honestly can say that I haven't seen a change as significant as this one would be.

Even the 486-SX2 Thinkpad I've played back in 1995 had virtually the same layout. The mechanicals were very different, of course.


Some of the ThinkPads sold in non-US markets featured 6 row layouts.

(And yeah, I wasn't talking about the switch mechanics. Those have gone through near-constant revision.)

Quote:
If you remember the heated discussions we've had here when the T400s keyboard was introduced with big Escape and Delete keys, you may also remember how they were talking about it on Lenovo Blogs, explaining how they've done research to improve the keyboard. It's bitter irony that after all this research and improvement, in their own words, they are seemingly ditching it altogether in just two generations...


I do. I don't know what their research has shown. Maybe they've found that people like chiclet keyboards even better? Without official word on either their plans for the T series or what subsequent research they may have performed, anything we can say here is just speculation.

Personally, I'll reserve final judgment until I've used one. I like some chiclet keyboards, and I use a six row Rappoo tenkeyless on one of my desktops, so I'm not *that* averse to non-traditional layouts. (Then again, I also use a 1986 Model M at home... so there's that.)

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:35 am 
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Would it be just a case of cost cutting? I hate to say this but I think the master plan is to have the Edge and Classic ThinkPad lines to share as many parts and design as possible to streamline cost. To be honest, I've typed on the ThinkPad chicklet keyboard many times at stores and the shorten travel no matter how minor it is I can instantly feel the difference. I mean I can understand why Sony invented the chicklet keyboard for its VAIO X505 but the ThinkPads no matter what marketing wants you to believe, is not THAT thin to justify using this type of keyboard.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:11 am 
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krayzie wrote:
Would it be just a case of cost cutting? I hate to say this but I think the master plan is to have the Edge and Classic ThinkPad lines to share as many parts and design as possible to streamline cost.
It certainly seems so.

Another thing that comes to mind is the need to justify the existence of a "keyboard design team". What would be there to design if everything was already perfect. So people come up with improvements no one asked for, and solutions to problems that don't exist.

This can explain why someone would think of the different keyboard concept to begin with, but the migration from two existing designs to one is probably due to cost-cutting. And the 6-row keyboard is probably cheaper to produce than the 7-row - for starts there are fewer keys, and the layout is simpler.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:08 am 
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Given that we haven't seen a BOM/cost breakdown for the keyboard, isn't it a little cynical to automatically assume cost cutting? I can think of plenty of design reasons and even some technical reasons why a chiclet design might be preferable. I also have no idea which design they'll go with for which models, nor do I know why they'll make the choices that they will.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:32 pm 
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ThinkRob wrote:
Given that we haven't seen a BOM/cost breakdown for the keyboard, isn't it a little cynical to automatically assume cost cutting?
One may call it cynical, but the cost-cutting trend is very strong in business.

ThinkRob wrote:
I can think of plenty of design reasons and even some technical reasons why a chiclet design might be preferable.
I agree. However, I cannot thing of a single design reason why a 6-row keyboard with a few keys missing is preferable to a 7-row one, especially since keys are not actually bigger or better placed in the 6-row.

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:42 pm 
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dr_st wrote:
I agree. However, I cannot thing of a single design reason why a 6-row keyboard with a few keys missing is preferable to a 7-row one, especially since keys are not actually bigger or better placed in the 6-row.


"Cleaner" and "more modern" look?

Hey, I'm not saying I agree, but I have heard people say that ThinkPads look "too old"...

As far as technical reasons, one of the potential ones I could think of would be if the overall height of the keyboard was decreased, thereby freeing up a bit of space internally under where the top row/flange would go. Not a lot, granted, but given the trend for ultra-thin notebooks I can see why it might matter.

I'm kinda playing devil's advocate here, BTW. I tend to take a "don't fix it if it ain't broke" approach... but then again I'm also one of those weird people who actually uses SysRq etc. :D

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:18 pm 
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ThinkRob wrote:
As far as technical reasons, one of the potential ones I could think of would be if the overall height of the keyboard was decreased, thereby freeing up a bit of space internally under where the top row/flange would go. Not a lot, granted, but given the trend for ultra-thin notebooks I can see why it might matter.


For ultra-thin notebooks, less vertical travel in keyboard helps cuts down the overall thickness. Chiclet keyboards makes it easier to realize small vertical profiles and is the preferred choice. It may be that eventually there will be keyboards without any mechanical action. It would be something like capacitive detection used for smartphones.


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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:50 pm 
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sanjuro wrote:
It may be that eventually there will be keyboards without any mechanical action. It would be something like capacitive detection used for smartphones.
Which is terrible and completely unusable for any meaningful amount of typing. :)

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:12 pm 
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dr_st wrote:
Which is terrible and completely unusable for any meaningful amount of typing. :)


Which will make it a perfect laptop then - a screen optimized for watching movies and a keyboard that is terrible for entering text - for the win! :cry:

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:54 pm 
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dr_st wrote:
Which is terrible and completely unusable for any meaningful amount of typing. :cry:


I feel your pain but computing for the masses in few years will not resemble what we have today.

Keyboard ergonomics will be deemphasized over time as voice dictation/commands become incorporated to mainline OS's.

I expect voice command/diction to be part of Windows 9 or 10 and same for Mac Os.


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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:14 pm 
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Location: Hampshire, UK
There are inherent risks with voice. Each of us has a different voice. The name Bob, in English pronunciation, is Bob. In American it sounds more like Baab.
Route in English is pronounced as root. In American it is rowt.

New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia produce some weird variations of English, never mind what Jamaica and Trinidad have as normal. All are valid.

Even within the home of the language we have a huge division over the pronunciation of Bath. To some it is a short A, to others it is a long A. Both are valid.

The machine that can sort a cockney from a geordie, a brummie from a liverpuddlian, a kiwi from a springbok, an ocker from a Jamaican, a lady from Louisiana from a man from Nebraska, and an Irishman from Cork from an Irishman from Belfast is way beyond our wildest dreams.

... and that's just English. Now try it with French. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: T430 Chicklet Keys
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:09 pm 
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killer wrote:
New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia produce some weird variations of English

Britain produces more (wierd) variations in pronouciation of English than than pretty much the whole of the rest of the English speaking world.

killer wrote:
The machine that can sort......

For personal systems, that problem was solved long ago for pretty much all languages and their dialects. The issue with voice recognition on mobile computing devices is not the signal processing involved, its provisioning the hardware to adequately "hear" a voice in a very wide range of conditions.

Cheers,

Bill


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