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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Laptops Keyboards: A Rant

Is there no science to the keyboard layout at all for laptops? Wait, drop that, how about a standard layout bereft of any science? How on earth is it possible to change the layout of the keys on laptops a bazillion ways?  How?  More importantly, why?

I had a Lenovo T60 and when it gave up the ghost, I switched to a L420 where the blooming keyboard has the all important keys of  DEL,PgUp/Dn, among other things,  in a different location. Already, I miss the nifty reading light on the screen that I used to have on the T60 and this misaligned keys simply winds me up no end.

I seem to be paging by the screenful because someone has 'helpfully' decided the page up key should be next to the arrow keys.  How nice; how very, very considerate to an average typist like me.  In hindsight, it was worth my time, that I did NOT spend too much time learning to type with gtypist.  What a nightmare!

When I trudge into a Electronics shop and look at the models from other vendors....well, there's no hope there too. Even within the same model line by each maker, the layout changes. So much for HCI classes for the designers.  The laptops look gorgeous, the keys are the new fancy tactile/shactile stuff, plastic/metal/kryptonite crap, yeah I get all that.  You know what?  I would settle for wooden keys, if they simply left the keyboard alone.

Why is the Enter key so huge in one model and is an almost forgotten piece of plastic tucked away in one corner in another model by the SAME maker?  Why are there gaps between the keys in some models and none in another model of the same size?  Why do some keyboards have keys made of eraser material while others have to be hammered by your fingers to see something on the screen?  What, this is supposed to work like a manual typewriter?  Clack, clack,zing.

I dunno what the designers are mixing in their drinking water; whatever it is, they should stop it.  This is pretty annoying and aggravating for trying to get work done.  It really is a good thing, that I know a bit of Emacs. I don't use these keys that much in it; C-d and C-k do come in handy as do C-v and M-v.


Allen Knutson said...

I tend to use C-b C-d, partly because who knows what Backspace is going to do?, but also because it's SO FAR away in the corner.

The X61 has no ThinkLight, but it's still labeled on the keyboard as if it were there. Curses!!

Tom Chandler said...

So true. My wife's new laptop keyboard was rearranged (by the manufacturer) to the point that if I didn't use Emacs keybindings (text editor, firefox, etc), I'd probably find it unusable.

As it is, I bought a desktop keyboard without paying close attention; the Backspace key is tiny and way, way up in the corner. C-h does the same job, but I was left to wonder who the hell thought that was a good idea...