The campaign for real keyboards

The campaign for real keyboards

Summary: When I read reviews complaining that Netbooks are "toys," regardless of their operating system, it's the keyboard they are really talking about. What CompuTex needs is a campaign for real keyboards.

TOPICS: Hardware

The latest Netbook rumor is out, this one straight out of Goangzhou and involving a unit running Google's Android operating system.

Once again, there is something important missing.

A keyboard. (The picture is from an excellent review of keyboards at our Australia affiliate, CNET Australia.)

Westerners need keyboards. Real keyboards. Keyboards you use 10 fingers on, the 8 main digits held up like you're about to play the piano, the thumbs resting comfortably on the space bar.

I want my index fingers to feel a line or at least a bump beneath them, so they know they're properly placed on the f and j keys. And I want enough real estate on that keyboard so my fingers aren't bumping into one another on their appointed rounds.

And I want enough travel when I press down the key so I know I pressed it, and don't have to guess.

I want a real keyboard.

This should not be hard to do on a Netbook. It should not be that expensive. OK, so you make the case bigger, and maybe the screen bigger. But the case width can be wider than the screen if screen cost is the issue.

I have a theory as to why we are having this problem. I have yet to meet a Chinese or Japanese business associate who types the way I do.

Typing an ideogram means a multi-step process to get something on the screen, but each ideogram is a word. The languages are saved using two bytes, not one. You keep your head down and work out the formula for each ideogram. It's a different process, more mental than physical.

Not so with English, or similar alphabetic languages. For me each keystroke just gets me a letter, it takes several to make a word, so a Chinese hunt-and-pecker may be a faster typist than an American 10-finger dude, assuming he or she has some practice.

Whatever the cause of the problem it is becoming something of a personal cause for me. When I read reviews complaining that Netbooks are "toys," regardless of their operating system, it's the keyboard they are really talking about.

What CompuTex needs is a campaign for real keyboards.

Topic: Hardware

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  • I think the sweet spot will be about 11 inch screens, which will leave room

    for a good keyboard. You could do that in a size a little bigger than the 9 inch Aspire One, if you eliminate the border around the screen. After getting used to the Aspire One, I can type very well on it, though it is cramped, and a little bigger would be just right.
  • My HP Mini has a *real* keyboard :)

    It's almost full size, the Enter and Backspace keys are 1.5" wide, so are the shift keys. Regular keys are over .5" wide too.

    I have large hands and I normally use a Microsoft Natural keyboard so when I tell you I can comfortably type on the HP Mini that should tell you something. :)

    Mind you, I wouldn't want to type a novel on it, but I can use it comfortably for most netbook style tasks, including writing email.

    The touchpad is pretty nice too, and putting the buttons on either side of the pad instead of underneath gave the designers room for a bigger keyboard. Plus the keyboard runs edge to edge, there's only about 1/8" of plastic on either side of the keyboard.

    It has a 10.2" screen and folds up smaller than a piece of 8.5x11 notebook paper. I'm really happy with it, even though it cost more and only has a 60GB hard drive.

    On netbooks, keyboard is king! I gladly paid $50 extra for the keyboard alone.
    • I'm still trying it out

      Maybe I'm all thumbs but I haven't yet fully
      trained myself on the HP Mini. My typing speed
      on it remains less than half what it is on my
  • Why I'll never have a netbook.....

    The keyboards are just too small. My hands don't fit any of the keyboards comfortably, so I will need to have a full size keyboard, similar to the one on my HPdv9000 widescreen laptop. And I need the larger screen. My eyes are not what they used to be.

    So I will need to stick to the large wide screen laptops and full size systems.
    linux for me
  • Samsung Keyboards

    Samsung's NC20 (A 12" netbook) has a keyboard that's
    near to full size.

    They've put it on their N120 10" netbook. I've been
    impressed by it. I want the larger screen real estate
    on the 12" model.
    Ad Astra
  • Said it before, first one to add this has a winner.

    Personally, I have no trouble with the smaller keyboard on the aspire, but I have average size hands.

    • Brilliant

      Now all we have to do is figure a way to split
      the screen in half....then we can have a four-
      fold netbook.
      • Thinking wildly

        a real 1280x1024 HUD type system built into sunglasses and a real fold in half integrated netbook/keyboard. Maybe a detachable screen. Make the sunglasses variable translucency. Course, we are talking years away, but plant the seeds.

        I think OLED are bendable, how long until foldable. Presss a button and like a pop up book, your full size 2lb netbook unfolds. :D

  • RE: The campaign for real keyboards

    All the women I know love netbooks. It's partly because they have smaller hands so the keyboards are just fine.