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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:13 am 
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I have heard that Lenovo did the unthinkable and decided to get rid of it's iconic keyboard for the popular but inferior chiclet keyboards.

What is the last great thinkpad in terms of the x series with the iconic keyboards? I have a couple of x6x series that I will to need to upgrade from in the next couple of years.

Is there any chance they might bring back the keyboards?

How inferior are the new keyboards?

I had a chiclet style laptop for work and it was horrible.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:20 am 
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IIRC the X220 series were the last ones with non chiclet keyboard

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:27 am 
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The Sandy Bridge ThinkPads like the X220, T420 and W520 are the last ThinkPad to have the classic keyboard.

I've used both the X230 and T430 that have the new keyboard. I think the acutal typing experience is quite good. The keyboards are firm and have good depth. Lenovo has removed and moved around some of the keyboard shortcuts with the keyboard, which is the crux of the issue for most ThinkPadders. If you got old layout ingrained in your brain, the new one will probably never make you happy. If you're like myself and don't care about the shortcuts, and just want a good typing experience or are new ThinkPads, the new keyboard will be fine.

If you the situation is bad now, wait until you hear they're removing the trackpoint buttons.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:45 am 
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ZaZ wrote:
The Sandy Bridge ThinkPads like the X220, T420 and W520 are the last ThinkPad to have the classic keyboard.

I've used both the X230 and T430 that have the new keyboard. I think the acutal typing experience is quite good. The keyboards are firm and have good depth. Lenovo has removed and moved around some of the keyboard shortcuts with the keyboard, which is the crux of the issue for most ThinkPadders. If you got old layout ingrained in your brain, the new one will probably never make you happy. If you're like myself and don't care about the shortcuts, and just want a good typing experience or are new ThinkPads, the new keyboard will be fine.

If you the situation is bad now, wait until you hear they're removing the trackpoint buttons.

when are they going to remove the buttons. I don't care about the shortcuts but I will die without the trackpoint. why remove it?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:34 pm 
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I have been using x230 for 9 months now and I have to say, I love the new keyboard. This is coming from a guy who has been using various generations of Thinkpads for over 10 yrs (560,600&600x,t23,t30,t40,x60,t400,x200s,t410s, probably missed a few in between ). The layout takes a bit of time to get use to, but you are still getting a first class keyboard. My personal experience is that 600x has the "best" overall keyboard (better than the x60), but my x230 is right up there as well.

If keyboard is your only concern, I'll say find a way to try one out. I think you will be presently surprised.

Having said that, if they dare to change or remove the trackpoint, Lenovo will probably lose a long term follower.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:40 pm 
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Work gave me a T430 to try for a couple of weeks. I hated it and got a T420 instead. The speed difference between Sandybridge (T420) and Ivy Bridge (T430) is negligible.

Specifically I did not like the new keyboard and especially the revised layout. I switch quite often between my various Thinkpads, all but the T430 had the same keyboard layout.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:31 pm 
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The new chiclet keyboard isn't the real problem, but the real problem is the layout of the keys. They clumped all the Function keys together, and makes them harder to use when you touch type.

I loved the old multimedia key layout (i.e. play, forward, stop, etc) on the direction keys, the new one sucks.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:04 am 
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Quote:
If you the situation is bad now, wait until you hear they're removing the trackpoint buttons.

eh... erm... isn't the Trackpoint, like, part of what defines the presence, the visual appearance of a Thinkpad?

Not that Lenovo hasn't screwed up Thinkpad's original definitive image enough, but... they're turning them into a house brand. I've always pictured Thinkpads being slick, tuxedo black, business rugged machines... doesn't look like they've kept that up, and it doesn't look like it's being helped at all.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:45 am 
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I would agree, but it's not my call. The trackpoint isn't going away, but the buttons are.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:02 am 
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ZaZ wrote:
I would agree, but it's not my call. The trackpoint isn't going away, but the buttons are.


I must have missed something here. Where did you hear this?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:09 pm 
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You can see it here:

Image

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:46 pm 
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ZaZ wrote:
You can see it here:

Image


They've haven't removed them, just converted them to software buttons.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:28 pm 
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DaKKS wrote:
They've haven't removed them, just converted them to software buttons.

Yeah so in non-marketing discourse, they have removed them.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:35 pm 
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DaKKS wrote:
They've haven't removed them, just converted them to software buttons.


Yeah, software "buttons" on the clickpad, i.e. a single huge, flat button that can tell where your finger is resting. That means there are no edges/bumps for your thumb to feel, the pressing action is probably not directly below the hot zones, and it probably won't be able to tell a left click from a right click if you rest both thumbs on the two hot zones simultaneously.

IMO using hot zones on a clickpad is about usable as typing on a touchscreen virtual keyboard.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:57 pm 
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twistero wrote:
Yeah, software "buttons" on the clickpad, i.e. a single huge, flat button that can tell where your finger is resting. That means there are no edges/bumps for your thumb to feel, the pressing action is probably not directly below the hot zones, and it probably won't be able to tell a left click from a right click if you rest both thumbs on the two hot zones simultaneously.

IMO using hot zones on a clickpad is about usable as typing on a touchscreen virtual keyboard.


Once again, we see evidence that quite ironically, no one on the "design" / engineering team at IBM Lenovo can actually type.

Its only a matter of time before they poll the room, and agree "that pesky red thing needs to go".

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:09 pm 
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ZaZ wrote:
You can see it here:

Image


Besides the lack of mouse buttons, I also dislike the reversed F keys. While I can understand sacrificing functionality a little bit to make a laptop look nicer (the X1 Carbon is a great example), this particular design looks awful. What model is this? I hope this is just some silly Chromebook or netbook or Edge Series. If this is a T or X Series, then Lenovo has committed a serious crime.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:01 pm 
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elray wrote:

Its only a matter of time before they poll the room, and agree "that pesky red thing needs to go".


Agreed, sadly... :cry:

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:11 pm 
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elray wrote:
Its only a matter of time before they poll the room, and agree "that pesky red thing needs to go".


I'd be very surprised if that happened.

Without getting too specific, 1) they do focus groups outside of just random employees 2) those groups are not devoid of users experienced with past ThinkPads and/or previous IBM products.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:16 pm 
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ThinkRob wrote:

Without getting too specific, 1) they do focus groups outside of just random employees 2) those groups are not devoid of users experienced with past ThinkPads and/or previous IBM products.


I'm certain that you've read on how they had conducted the poll/research before unleashing the new keyboard design...and that "process" was nothing short of a cynical joke.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:50 am 
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ajkula66 wrote:
I'm certain that you've read on how they had conducted the poll/research before unleashing the new keyboard design...and that "process" was nothing short of a cynical joke.


From Lenovo:

Quote:
We often conduct different evaluations and user tests to maintain or improve the ThinkPad keyboard. However, to determine if and how we would make the changes to our keyboard in 2012, we embarked on one of the most in-depth keyboard studies ever conducted for ThinkPad. We did 350 hours of user testing with people in four countries. With each participant, we conducted 90- to 120-minute one-on-one interviews with hands-on use of different keyboard conditions to understand the latest about keyboard use and design preferences.


You and I might not like the end result, but if that's true then it's hard to claim that they didn't do user research.

So while we're certainly represented in their test groups -- or at least in some of them -- I'd also bet that folks like us who've used most ThinkPads made are in the minority. Correspondingly, our opinions aren't given precedence over more "average" users. If they were, I'm sure that the Human Factor group would have many of the members here on speed dial.

What *doesn't* make a whole lot of sense to me is why they wouldn't keep support for the old BIOS keymap. Unless of course the BIOS codebase is as well structured and modular as embedded codebases often are, and thus adding something like that would be tricky...

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:35 am 
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Interesting statement by Lenovo but I call bull. If it they did the research as they said, they would have realized the keyboard, as it existed, was and is one of the most distinguishing feature that made the Thinkpad brand stand out above others. There are a few features of a Thinkpad that made it stand out above the competition.

In this particular instance it would have been easy for Lenovo to offer the option of the new chiclet keyboard or the classic keyboard at the time of purchase. It's not like they don't have the source code or do not know how to implement the classic keyboard.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:38 am 
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ajkula66 wrote:
I'm certain that you've read on how they had conducted the poll/research before unleashing the new keyboard design...and that "process" was nothing short of a cynical joke.


I still stand by what I've written above. See the underlined/coloured portion of the quote:

Quote:
We often conduct different evaluations and user tests to maintain or improve the ThinkPad keyboard. However, to determine if and how we would make the changes to our keyboard in 2012, we embarked on one of the most in-depth keyboard studies ever conducted for ThinkPad. We did 350 hours of user testing with people in four countries. With each participant, we conducted 90- to 120-minute one-on-one interviews with hands-on use of different keyboard conditions to understand the latest about keyboard use and design preferences.


After 20 years, why bother claiming this qualifies as "in-depth testing"...seriously.

The most cynical part is the one underlined in blue. No one ever changed the original ThinkPad keyboard layout to the extent seen in 2012, so claiming that some type of a "due process" was followed is pretty insulting to begin with.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:49 am 
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ajkula66 wrote:
After 20 years, why bother claiming this qualifies as "in-depth testing"...seriously.

The most cynical part is the one underlined in blue. No one ever changed the original ThinkPad keyboard layout to the extent seen in 2012, so claiming that some type of a "due process" was followed is pretty insulting to begin with.


In almost every reviews and press written about Thinkpads, everyone have nothing but positive things to say about the classic keyboard. It was copied and imitated by others. In this particular area, Thinkpads were the undisputed industry leader. So let's bring it down a notch and be like everyone else. Classic case of let's fix it until it's broken.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:51 am 
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The question I would have about these upcoming "software" trackpoint buttons is, if you disable the touchpad (as I always do if one exists) do you lose the buttons? Or will the driver be able to make that distinction? I would assume that either the answer is "yes" OR you won't be able to disable the touchpad at all (which wouldn't surprise me).

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:23 pm 
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elray wrote:
Its only a matter of time before they poll the room, and agree "that pesky red thing needs to go".


I actually hope this will happen, because it will force you guys to finally learn to use the touchpad and realize it's not that bad. I have been using both trackpoint and touchpad frequently for over a decade and the touchpad is far better in both speed and precision. For the trackpoint, precision is acceptable only if I slow down the pointer a couple notches below Windows' default speed setting, but then it moves way too slow. Even if I take into account the time needed to move my hand from the keyboard to the touchpad or to an external mouse, both of these inputs still beat the trackpoint in terms of speed.

Cigarguy wrote:
In almost every reviews and press written about Thinkpads, everyone have nothing but positive things to say about the classic keyboard. It was copied and imitated by others. In this particular area, Thinkpads were the undisputed industry leader. So let's bring it down a notch and be like everyone else. Classic case of let's fix it until it's broken.


I have to say that even though the classic Thinkpad keyboards were very good, they weren't perfect either. For example, since about a year ago I have been using an X32 and more recently an X31 in a completely dark room in my lab. I consider myself an excellent touch typist but even after a year, I still have trouble finding the absurdly small BACKSPACE key -- I often hit the keys next to it. Even the 10.4" 4:3 Sony X505ZP that I had has a much larger BACKSPACE key. So, there was still room for Lenovo to improve these classic keyboards further, but sadly they made things worse.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:48 pm 
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@pianowizard

I've tried using the trackpoint but can never ever get proficient at it. It's either a Touchpad, pen input, or USB mouse for me. For me the trackpoint will not be missed but I can see where it would be missed by others. However I do like the red signature look of the Thinkpad trackpoint.

I agree with you about the backspace key on the tablets. I know on my X61T I have the same issue as you do. I think this is more of a function of the smaller size of the X6X.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:31 pm 
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Quote:
I actually hope this will happen, because it will force you guys to finally learn to use the touchpad and realize it's not that bad. I have been using both trackpoint and touchpad frequently for over a decade and the touchpad is far better in both speed and precision.

I'll be honest (because I'm young) I've started out using a touchpad. My first actual computer that I used was a Toshiba Satellite 1005, not a Thinkpad. However, after I started working on Thinkpads, I got instantly used to the Trackpoint, I can even game with it.

I can use Trackpoints and Touchpads both very well, and I can tell you, Touchpads are better. On the desktop, the Touchpad is just quicker, and you can also use it for Paint and Photoshopping better. As pianowizard said, it's more precise. In gaming, the difference is much bigger, especially in shooters, the Trackpoint is very vague and loose. It's like comparing a Computer mouse to a console's joystick(because the Trackpoint is, in a sense, a tiny, super-sensitive joystick.)

Now that I think about it, keeping the Trackpoint would merely be a novelty thing, rather than any sort of functional thing. That said, I personally think Trackpoints are still part of a Thinkpad's definitive image. A bespoke Thinkpad in my mind is:
-is solidly built, business rugged with little compromise
-has one or more wacky, absurd but functional features(a digitizer built on, ThinkLight, etc.)
-is in the traditional suede-tuxedo finish, or at least all black with maybe some sort of accent(I'd excuse the Edge's silver accent)
-has a trackpoint, or UltraNav.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:38 am 
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Nothing thumps using a laser mouse. The greatest Thinkpad in the x200 line I would argue is the x201 given the latches on the lid. I find the clamshell non-latch design of the newer TPs odd and like opening a book bound too tight if you will. Aight.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:14 pm 
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pianowizard wrote:
I actually hope this will happen, because it will force you guys to finally learn to use the touchpad and realize it's not that bad. I have been using both trackpoint and touchpad frequently for over a decade and the touchpad is far better in both speed and precision. For the trackpoint, precision is acceptable only if I slow down the pointer a couple notches below Windows' default speed setting, but then it moves way too slow. Even if I take into account the time needed to move my hand from the keyboard to the touchpad or to an external mouse, both of these inputs still beat the trackpoint in terms of speed.


The touchpad is good for some things, and it's bad for others. I use both it and the TrackPoint, even on the desktop (UltraNav USB keyboard).

The TrackPoint's good when I'm rapidly going back and forth between mouse movement and typing.

The trackpad's good when I'm just browsing around and mostly just using the mouse.

Both suck for some things, both are good for some things. I like having both.

That said, if it is necessary for space reasons to drop one I'd rather they nix the trackpad since that's the biggest win space-wise. (Not that they will, mind you...)

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:16 am 
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Yea...

Although I do agree having both is the best of both worlds. It was a good idea then...

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