I am a professional writer, so this post definitely reflects my bias of how important a good keyboard can be to getting work done. I write 2,000 - 3,000 words a day on average, so the instrument for getting those words on the screen is very important. Writers, be they world-famous novelists, prolific bloggers or business report writers, can appreciate how important it is to have a good, no a great keyboard. When this group hears that the best keyboard ever made is on a laptop, it raises a few eyebrows.
Good keyboards have several attributes that set them apart from the wannabes, notably key travel, spacing and layout. To become one with the writing process, a keyboard has to simply be, and not be in the way. It must feel completely natural with hands resting on the keys, pounding for all they are worth to meet the deadline or finish the article.
Like sports teams with their franchise players, I have a franchise keyboard. The Lenovo ThinkPad x200t is the laptop, no, the keyboard that I grab when the rubber needs to hit the road. Sure it has a screen and computer attached to it, but it's the keyboard that keeps me coming back when the pressure is on. I have used the x200t for several years, and I will be using it for years to come strictly because of the keyboard.
ThinkPads have always been famous for having good keyboards so this isn't that big a stretch. But of all the standalone keyboards and those integrated into laptops I have used, the x200t is easily the best, and by a wide margin. The key spacing is perfect, and the key tops are gently sculpted to fit the fingertips just so. The key travel, the distance the key must be pressed to generate a click, is just right; not too far requiring too much pressure (which slows me down), and just as importantly not so short a distance that results in inadvertent clicks.
The x200t keyboard layout is outstanding, and designed to facilitate rapid typing. All of the keys are where the touch typist expects them to be, with good design features like oversized Shift keys. The right Shift key is perhaps the biggest I have ever seen, and this translates into fast typing. The bottom line is everything on this keyboard just feels right, which is rare for keyboards.
The ThinkPad x200t is also a multitouch Tablet PC that in addition to touch accepts input from a special pen for writing on the screen. That screen swivels around to form a tablet, so it has a lot of utility over most notebooks. But the single feature of the ThinkPad that keeps me coming back to it when my back is to the wall, is the keyboard.
The old school design of using real keys and not namby-pamby chiclet keys (which are all the rage), is key to the ThinkPad being my franchise keyboard. Don't misunderstand me, I can type decently on chiclet keyboards; but the real keys on the ThinkPad never cause misspelled words like the chiclet keyboards due to hitting the wrong key.
Lenovo now sells the ThinkPad x201t, and while the keyboard looks the same as the older x200t I haven't kept up with it closely enough to tell if it's been changed. Laptop makers have a tendency to "improve" keyboards when refreshing a model, and when you already have a franchise keyboard that's a step backward.
Keyboards are very personal things, so you may not agree with me that this one could back your franchise as it does mine. Leave a comment and share your favorite keyboard and explain why. We'll all learn something from the exchange.