Lenovo ThinkPad USB keyboard with TrackPoint

Price: $75 (Lenovo Australia online store)

Score: 8/10

Pros:

-Based on the latest Lenovo Thinkpad keyboard design.

-Integrated Trackpoint (an endearing feature for most Thinkpadders)

-Better ergonomic then the Thinkpad laptop keyboard it is based on

-Liquid drainage holes

-Integrated volume control/multimedia control keys

-Dedicated Fn key on the keyboard itself to control all the Thinkpad features

-The keyboard design is better than the old ThinkPlus USB Travel Keyboard with UltraNav

-High quality construction

-Enlarged Esc and Del key

-LED backlight Cap lock key, Mic/Speaker mute keys.

-Dedicated Thinkvantage key

-Internal cable organisation area

-A cheap way to experience what ThinkPad keyboard is all about

Cons:

-The key tactility is not good as the ThinkPlus USB Travel Keyboard with UltraNav

-No wireless version available

-No usb hub ports on the keyboard itself (would be a nice feature to have)

Verdict: An amazing keyboard for a small price (relative to the Thinkplus travel keyboard).

Think KB toe

Picture 1. Thinkpad USB Keyboard with Trackpoing [1].

Review

Lenovo ThinkPad USB keyboard with TrackPoint 1Lenovo ThinkPad USB keyboard with TrackPoint 2

Picture 2. Thinkplus USB keyboard with UltraNav (top) and the new Thinkpad USB keyboard (bottom) [2, 3]

 

ThinkPad USB keyboard was created by Lenovo to replace the old Thinkplus USB keyboard, which was based on the old IBM Thinkpad T30 keyboard design, which was no longer sold or produced. As such Lenovo needed an updated Thinkpad style desktop keyboard that reflected on the current Lenovo Thinkpad keyboard design, as such Lenovo design team (lead by David Hill) chose to use the new T400s keyboard design (which is the new keyboard design that is used on all the latest T, W and X220 Thinkpads). If you are interested in the design process went into designing this keyboard, then have a read of this blog by David Hill (http://www.lenovoblogs.com/designmatters/2009/09/the-keyboard-you-helped-design/).

The new ThinkPad USB Keyboard has the same enlarged ESC and Del keyboard, and the LED backlight mic/speaker mute and CAPS LOCK buttons (the latter design is available on Apple keyboard for sometimes now).  This keyboard also has the blue Fn key that most Thinkpad users are familiar with, which allows you to control many functions like power mode, wireless on/off, sleep, log on screen, webcam, external monitor controls, etc (oh Thinklight on the laptop can also be controlled using this keyboard). The Multimedia control is also available on the keyboard through the use of Fn + direction button on the keyboard (which allows you to playback, stop, etc). There is even an blue Thinkvantage (what i call the Blue Panic button) shortcut button on the keyboard to activate the Rescue and Recovery feature (and other associated softwares), which is neat thing to have (but thankfully i rarely use it).

While, the old Thinkplus USB keyboard with UltraNav came with the Touchpad, the new Thinkpad USB keyboard only comes with the red Trackpoint button; its omission allowed Lenovo to drop the RRP of this keyboard and make it more affordable. Since i and many Thinkpadders rarely use the Trackpad on Thinkpads, the omission of this feature made no difference to us, and many Thinkpad purists actually welcomed the cleaner design of the keyboard without the Trackpad (i am one of them). Like the Thinkpads, the ThinkPad USB keyboard have two drainage holes under the keyboard to provide a drainage channel for any liquid spill on the laptop itself. According to my friends this is a nice keyboard to have if you are prone to spilling anything on keyboards or laptops, as since there are no fans, cpu, gpu in the keyboard chassis, it is therefore far more spill proof than any Thinkpad laptops available on the market.

Lenovo ThinkPad USB keyboard with TrackPoint 3

Picture 3. Underside of the ThinkPad USB keyboard showing the kick stand, drainage holes, and cable organisation area [1].

Design wise, the ThinkPad USB keyboards can run circle around the old ThinkPlus USB keyboards, however the new ThinkPad USB keyboard key tactility is not good as the old ThinkPlus USB keyboard, which is a real shame. However, the slight sloping of the ThinkPad USB keyboard accentuated by the kick stand makes it a more comfortable typing keyboard then the one provided on the Thinkpad themselves. Another great thing about this keyboard, is the quality of the materials and construction, so much so it puts many 2000 dollars laptop to shame.

Conclusion

An extremely good desktop keyboards for those people whom love Thinkpad keyboards, and if you are not sure what Thinkpad’s keyboards are all about, then this is a something you purchase and evaluate (i am sure you won’t be disappointed). Every thing about this keyboard is spot on, the only gripes i have about this keyboard is the lack of integrated usb hub ports on the keyboard itself, which is something useful to have to give it a better functionality. Also, for some reason the key tactility of the old Thinkplus USB keyboard with UltraNav feels slightly better than the new Thinkpad USB keyboard. But none the less, the new Thinkpad USB keyboard presents itself as an top buy for Thinkpadders and non-Thinkpadders alike (unless you use a Mac), it is also a cheap trial product for people whom may consider purchase the Thinkpads in the near future (which i recommend highly).

References

[1] http://www.lenovoblogs.com/designmatters/2009/09/the-keyboard-you-helped-design/

[2] http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/product-and-parts/detail.page?&LegacyDocID=MIGR-73183

[3] Originally from IBM website, but the link no longer works now.

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