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.)

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