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Supposed NIB "OEM" keyboard from Lenovo - how to identify a counterfeit/replica

T430-T490, T530-T590 Series
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vanillagod
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Supposed NIB "OEM" keyboard from Lenovo - how to identify a counterfeit/replica

#1 Post by vanillagod » Sat Jan 23, 2021 3:30 am

Recently decided it was time to "refresh" the tired keyboard in my daily T530 and paid a premium on ebay for a "genuine" replacement shipped from the USA vs. saving a couple bucks on likely a 3rd-party replacement direct from China.

This is what I received. Unless Lenovo QC has been on hiatus, what I received was definitely a couple tiers below in quality compared to the old one that came out.

Obvious flaws:
1. Warped trackpoint buttons. Despite appearances, the buttons pictured are fully seated and work. This is the best fitment they get. I noticed the rubber-dome beneath were different in design from the old while attempting to adjust. The click buttons also stick out noticeably more, touching the screen with lid closed.
Image

2. Off-center mounted power button
Image

3. Off-center black-out painting of various degrees for the speaker & microphone mute indicated-buttons
Image

Can anybody confirm my suspicions of this being an unauthorized replica?
And can anybody refer a reputable source for said OEM keyboard?

dr_st
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Re: Supposed NIB "OEM" keyboard from Lenovo, got swindled on ebay

#2 Post by dr_st » Sat Jan 23, 2021 3:37 am

Up until a couple of years ago, I didn't think unauthorized replicas of Thinkpad keyboards existed; however, I see more and more reports on such keyboards.

Since you seem to currently have in your possession your old keyboard, which is definitely an original, and this one, which is a definite suspect for being a "clone", you may be able to contribute to the shared body of knowledge by running a direct comparison.

Things I would be interested to compare (of course, only if you feel comfortable doing the disassembly):

1. The appearance of the bottom of the keycaps (including some of the big special keys like Enter / Shift)
2. The appearance of the rubber dome mechanism underneath the keycaps
3. (this should be easy) any manufacturer ID / FRU / serial number stickers on the underside of the keyboards; yes, these are easy to fake, but sometimes this can be a telltale sign - since the people who make the replicas often don't pay enough attention, and some discrepancies can be found.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

kfzhu1229
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Re: Supposed NIB "OEM" keyboard from Lenovo, got swindled on ebay?

#3 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sat Jan 23, 2021 5:52 pm

Actually these replica keyboards existed as old as the T4x keyboards.
I remember helping a lad local in Toronto who got scammed with a 14.1" NMB keyboard for T4x that is in great physical condition, but the keycaps are all replicated and feels wrong on the hands. Also it constantly misses keystrokes.
I sold him a NMB keyboard in person from ajkula66's keyboard lot years ago and immediately it was night and day better, despite in worn physical condition.
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vanillagod
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Re: Supposed NIB "OEM" keyboard from Lenovo, got swindled on ebay?

#4 Post by vanillagod » Wed Jan 27, 2021 4:36 am

Took some comparison pictures to accompany my additional thoughts/ observations before returning the replica keyboard.

Major observation: didn't occur to me to check the backlit functionality that was advertised while I was appalled with general fit and finish. The received replica keyboard was *NOT* backlit. Only capable of toggling thinklight. Despite a listing and label sticker on the backside stating otherwise! At the same time, the material is different. appears to be top-printed textured solid-color ABS vs. the color-blocked painted clear ABS of the genuine backlit keyboard.


Packaging - No mention of Lenovo or a Lenovo part number on the SKU and generic die-cut cardboard box:
Image

Overview - Note no reflective backing on the replica @ bottom as seen on genuine @ top and crudely stamped trackpoint module housing:
Image
(Thinner cable due to lack of backlight in the replica despite labeling and ebay listing)
High res: https://i.imgur.com/9AUsJeG.jpg

Stickers (likely forged/ copied in verbatim off genuine) - Bottom sticker blatantly states model as "backlit" when it egregiously is not.
Image
High res: https://i.imgur.com/39LeCLu.jpg
Comparison w/ genuine - was listed on ebay as a "direct compatible part #"
Image
High res: https://i.imgur.com/GDJS1gw.jpg

Trackpoint cap - crudely molded and manually "cut" to fit significantly shallower trackpoint interface on replica. I believe the trackpoint module on the replica is based on the trackpoint modules on X1 models that take shallow trackpoint caps. A classic trackpoint cap interface was chosen likely due to readily available classic caps vs. the newer shallow X1 style caps.
Image
High res: https://i.imgur.com/go0iw6Z.jpg

Trackpoint mouse buttoms - inferior cost-cutting measures in molding sacrificing "crisp" mouse clicks for mushy ones and buttons that sit higher; possibly touching screen with lid closed. Besides a disparity in molding precision favoring genuine, genuine buttons are doubleshot ABS vs completely top-printed on the replica. The rubberdome of the genuine despite years of heavy use by myself is still very robust and flexible. Rubberdome of replica is very thin and mushy already despite being recent production.
Image
Image
High res: https://i.imgur.com/l13G4Wl.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/XtIF3sz.jpg

Rubberdome mechanism (1u) - different
Image
High res: https://i.imgur.com/x3y3eeD.jpg

Rubberdome mechanism (1u+) - different
Image
High res: https://i.imgur.com/NiO7cv8.jpg

dr_st
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Re: Supposed NIB "OEM" keyboard from Lenovo, got swindled on ebay?

#5 Post by dr_st » Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:23 am

Thank you so much for this detailed comparison. :bow:

The FRU and other identifiers specifying a "backlit" variant, while the actual keyboard isn't - is a dead giveaway of a replica. It's actually more than that - it's counterfeit, since it's a replica being disguised as a genuine part.

The key mechanisms are also different from what I recall seeing on any Thinkpad keyboard, though I have not had extensive experience with this particular generation.

You are right to return it, obviously.

With your permission, I will make your topic 'sticky' and leave it as advice for other forum members, as I see these counterfeit/fake/replica keyboards are becoming more and more common.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

vanillagod
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Re: Supposed NIB "OEM" keyboard from Lenovo, got swindled on ebay?

#6 Post by vanillagod » Wed Jan 27, 2021 12:03 pm

Yes, please feel free to sticky.

RE the dead giveaway, the unscrupulous seller opted to use stock imagery obviously.
Paired with a believable price, I've had good luck with such listings before as I'd assumed the seller drop shipped off a catalog.

Regardless, still looking for a "BNIB" freshie OEM keyboard for my machine. Not sure how everybody's luck is with the seemingly large amount of "refurb" keyboards on ebay from ex-business machines.
I recon, from such an environment, it may be a 50-50 chance of if the keyboard is just like mine, heavily used. Or best case scenario, always docked with external keyboard and therefore like new.

dr_st
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Re: Supposed NIB "OEM" keyboard from Lenovo - how to identify a counterfeit/replica

#7 Post by dr_st » Wed Jan 27, 2021 1:38 pm

*Stickied*

With enough patience, I'm sure you can find something good. Private sellers sometimes take good pictures that allow to judge the amount of wear.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

Natakranta
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Re: Supposed NIB "OEM" keyboard from Lenovo - how to identify a counterfeit/replica

#8 Post by Natakranta » Mon Feb 01, 2021 7:24 am

Thank you for detailed comparison, much appreciated.
I bought this supposedly original T430 backlit keyboard and I'm waiting for delivery, assuming two more weeks from now with my experience of China to Ireland deliveries. It has the black cover on the back side as yours original, but cables are different.
The reviews under listing were good and one person form Ireland even posted pictures of it working with backlit.
Fingers crossed it is descent. I'll report back here.

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