Stupid keyboard tricks

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’m shopping for a laptop. Having been convinced to go with a 12″ ultraportable, I had narrowed down my choices to a handful of machines in the price range and feature set I was after.

One of these was the Dell Latitude 700M , a consumer-class 12.1″ widescreen laptop with built-in DVD. (At that size, optical drives are usually in external USB boxes.) The 700M was a bit outside what I was after because it was 1.5″ thick, a bit heavy, and didn’t have a Trackpoint mouse, but I hadn’t quite eliminated it from consideration because I liked the widescreen display and the DVD.

And then I saw the keyboard:

Dell 700M keyboard closeup

I’ve grown accustomed to expecting keyboard idiocy from Dell, but squishing together punctuation keys, leaving a big Shift key, and then leaving empty space beside the Shift key? Is the cursor diamond inviolable?

Ah, well, it’s out of the running now. (Current contenders, by the way, are the Dell Latitude D400, IBM Thinkpad X31, and HP nc4010, all 2-3 year old 12″ 1.4-1.6GHz Pentium M general-purpose ultraportables that don’t get into the ultraslim, 1.8″ disk, low-voltage madness. The Thinkpad’s winning for general engineering, the Dell for performance and familiarity, and the HP for price. Dell X300 and IBM X40 are too small.)

3 responses to “Stupid keyboard tricks”

  1. I have a Thinkpad at work and I love it. The support has been a little dodgy at times, but its getting better. They are pretty durable, too – we had one get water poured over it from a leak (thankfully the top was down) and there has been no damage to it whatsoever. Its part of the good design. There is some bugginess with their UltraNav touchpad software but other than that, problems have been few and far between for us (we weren’t affected by the battery recall).

  2. Yeah, I love Thinkpads. I had a 570E for years (and then Candice had it after me, and it still runs fine, just needs new display hinges but it’s too slow to bother fixing), and Candice has a T23 now.

    The only thing that holds me back is that for the same CPU and battery life I’d spend an extra $100-200. I’m used to Thinkpads being expensive, but on a $500 computer that’s hard to justify.

    (I don’t need to worry about the UltraNav, though — no touchpad on the X31.)

  3. damn laptop keyboards. it’s too bad manufacturers don’t make several layouts or variations available for you to choose from. last time i was laptop shopping i had to rule out several due to keyboard issues (mostly the keyboard feel, which is why i am wary to buy a laptop online without having tried it hands-on first).