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The evolution: ThinkPad Chiclet Keyboard

In this short article, I want to take a look at how the ThinkPad Chiclet keyboard has evolved over time, since the initial announcement in 2010, over the introduction to mainstream ThinkPads in 2012, until today (2015) and the future generation (Skylake, 2016), which we already got a peek on with the new ThinkPad P series and the new Yoga 260.

2010 – First gen: X100e/X120e and EDGE (Gen 1)

X100e_keyboard

X100e:

  • Blue, classic FN functions
  • Keytroke: 2 mm
  • F keys grouped, small Esc and Delete, F keys smaller and rounded
  • Very small PgUp/PgDn
  • Small version: Slightly smaller keys, no PrtSc
  • Fun fact: Prototypes had a blue enter key

Edge_keyboard

EDGE:

  • Red FN functions (nice visual design, but hard to read), F key functions switched around
  • Keystroke: 2.5 mm
  • F keys not grouped, small Esc and Delete, rectangular F keys
  • Very small PgUp/PgDn

2011 – Second gen: X1

lenoX1_2

X1:

  • Blue, classic FN functions
  • Keytroke: 2 mm
  • F keys not grouped, bigger Esc and Delete, rectangular F keys
  • Slightly bigger PgUp/PgDn
  • First backlit version

2012 – Third gen: T430/X230/W530/etc. and EDGE E (Gen 2)

T430s_keyboard

T430 (and other classic models):

  • Grey or white, classic FN functions
  • Keystroke: 2.1 mm
  • F keys not grouped (exception: X1 Carbon), bigger Esc and Delete, rectangular F keys
  • Big Pgup/PgDn, standard arrow key size
  • Dedicated functions buttons (not in the picture)
  • Backlit or non-backlit available

edge2_keyboard

Edge gen 2:

  • Red FN functions (nice visual design, but hard to read), F key functions switched around
  • Keystroke: 2 mm
  • F keys not grouped, bigger Esc and Delete, rectangular F keys
  • Big Pgup/PgDn, standard arrow key size
  • Numpad on 15″ (already present on E520)
  • Glossy key frame

2013 – Fourth gen: T431s/T440s/W540/etc.

W540 keyboard

T440/etc. ( includes classic and E series):

  • White FN functions, F key functions switched around
  • Keystroke: 2 mm (14″ – 15.6″) / 1.8 mm (12″)
  • F keys grouped, bigger Esc and Delete, rectangular F keys
  • Big PgUp/PgDn, standard arrow key size
  • Numpad on 15″
  • Integrated volume keys
  • Backlit or non-backlit available
  • Inbuilt LEDs for function keys and FN lock

2014 – X1 Carbon Gen 2

X1 Carbon gen 2

X1 Carbon Gen 2:

  • No function keys, adaptive keyboard row, 5 row layout
  • Keystroke: 1.8 mm
  • No PrtScn, no physical FN key, no CpasLock key
  • Home/End put together, as well as Backspace/Delete
  • Big PgUp/PgDn, standard arrow key size
  • Backlit (standard)

2015 – Fith gen: P50/P70/Yoga 260

ThinkPad P series keyboard

ThinkPad Skylake:

  • White FN functions, F keys switched around, slightly larger F key printing
  • Keystroke: Unknown until now, but my guess is 2 mm for 14 – 17″, 1.8 mm for X1 Carbon and 12″
  • F keys grouped, bigger Esc and Delete, rectangular F keys
  • Big PgUp/PgDn, standard arrow key size
  • Numpad on 15″ and 17″
  • Integrated volume buttons, dedicated volume buttons above the numpad for 15″ and 17″
  • Backlit or non-backlit available
  • More inbuilt LEDs, for FNLock (now in Esc), CapsLock, Numlock (with numpad only), volume buttons

As we can see, the evolution of the ThinkPad chiclet keyboard continues. Lenovo will continue to incorporate more customer feedback as I have been told on IFA, and even if they won´t bring back the 7 row layout for the mainstream ThinkPads (retro ThinkPad aside), the chiclet keyboards will only get better in the future.

  • Petr Vones

    No way to accept that until navigation keys (PgUp/PgDn/Home/End) reverts back to default location proven for more than 20 years. Currently the only way to use these keyboards is actually to attach an external keyboard. Do I need a laptop then at all ?

    X240/X250 lacks dedicated Insert key (combined with the End key) that introduced issues where End key does not work in Fn-Lock mode. The BIOS fix have been released more than one year later ! It confirms nobody have ever tried to use such keyboard for serious work otherwise I would had been fixed immediately.

    • ImThink

      On 15″ models, you can use the numpad for navigation, with the navigation keys in the same location as on desktop keyboards.

      I don´t see Lenovo going back to the 7 row keyboard for mainstream models.

      • Petr Vones

        And on 14″ models ? The keyboard becomes useless at all. That’s why I am going back to desktops (unless the Retro project will happen), I don’t need a laptop that can be used with external keyboard only. Way to expensive “desktop” after all.