Innovative Keyboards

Some digital ink has been spilled recently regarding the unique keyboard layout the Lenovo X1 Carbon has. If you haven’t seen it…

Take a moment and see how they moved away from the standard layout us touch typists know so well. To start, I’m not enamored by the backspace and delete keys being so close together. Perhaps using it will not be much of a challenge but I prefer a separate key or perhaps a modifier (as in the case of Apple) to use the delete action. My next complaint is Home and End where the caps key is. Yes, caps lock is terrible, albeit slightly useful at times. As a lightweight emacs user, I’m a fan of swapping the caps lock and control keys (note: I don’t actually do that today). Short of migrating both home and end to control, emacs users would be stuck on this laptop. A light at the top right of the left shift key implies caps lock functionality exists but it is not immediately obvious how.

Tilde key makes its home to the right of the space bar. Not that I use that key a lot, especially on Windows, but the location is odd. The layout implies it was placed at the bottom right to prevent the need for another row of keys. Which brings me to the function keys.

Watch the video first.

Interesting idea but I want keys on my keyboard. If I wanted a touch screen, I’d use a tablet. Better would be actual keys which change their function. As a non-Windows user, I’m also wondering how that works in Linux. Not for a minute do I believe Lenovo cares about Linux users but it’s a concern I have, especially if I am going to lay down over $1,000 for the laptop.

I give Lenovo credit for trying something new, especially with the function row but it’s not something I think I’d enjoy. If I alt+f4 a window, I want to be sure I’m hitting the proper key. The layout of the home, end, and tilde key leave much to be desired. The caps lock key’s biggest downfall is not its existence but its prime real estate on the keyboard. I doubt home and end are used frequent enough where they merit such privileged placement. Control on the other hand…

My work laptop is a 15″ Lenovo which in general is nice despite its heft and a few other things. Periodically I think about requesting an X1 Carbon since it seems like such a nice system. Unfortunately this new keyboard design makes me think I’m going to wait a generation until the keyboard comes back to earth.