Keyboard and Trackpad

Keyboard feel can be a bigger deal than most people realise.  Some keyboards are simply awful to use, others can look dreadful but actually be quite acceptable.   Some people don’t touch type or really won’t be doing that much writing on their laptop so this won’t be quite as important to them – it’s a matter of trying before you buy and go with your own personal opinion.  What I think is horrendous the next person may find quite acceptable – and vice versa.

chiclet keyboardMost laptops, even larger ones these days have “chicklet” keys though there are some that buck this trend.  These keys have a “minimalist” appearance, are very thin and make the laptop easier to manufacture and design;  they are less likely to rub against the screen when it’s closed for instance.  They can be nasty to use though;  they have short ‘travel’ (how far the key goes down when you hit it) and many have a spongy, mushy feel which can give you real problems if you type a lot.  I can’t stand poor quality keyboards as they give me significant physical irritation in my fingers;  it’s a big factor in determining what I will and won’t buy.  I’ve made the mistake of buying a laptop on more than one occasion that had a less than stellar keyboard and I’ve regretted it enormously afterwards.

Without going into too much detail, it’s very important to:

  • Try them out;  see what the key feel is like
  • Don’t try one model in the range and expect all others to be the same even if they look the same.  Some brands make their keyboards all look similar (corporate “design language”) but they are very different underneath for technical and marketing reasons

A number of keyboards have spill resistance so they have some resistance to water and liquid spills;  this may be useful for those with kids and pets around or who intend to take the machine outdoors a lot

Some have a compressed layout to save space – this again is a personal impression issue.  I’ve found some that were extremely frustrating to use as keys such as page-up and page-down were “shifted” (you had to hit the “FN” key and then another one to make this work);   that’s fine for infrequently used keys but can be very irritating for regularly used keys, especially for gaming

Ultimately this is a personal choice – try it yourself, see what you’re happy with and make your own decision.  You’re the one who’ll have to live with it so take a bit of time – open Notepad (or an equivalent) and type something;  if you make a lot more mistakes than usual this can be a sign that you’re not taking to that keyboard well;  if you make a lot of mistakes and don’t like the feel then I’d avoid that machine altogether.