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Chrispy_
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[SOLVED] Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:25 am

Hi Gerbils.

Any suggestions of cheap laptops with good keyboards?

For the record, good in this case refers to the ergonomic quality of the keyboard. Apple's short-travel, flat chiclet design is the opposite end of the spectrum - I'm asking for a 120wpm journalist who is both on a tight budget ($500-600 ish) and using a very very old IBM thinkpad.

Other specs aren't really that important - it needs to run Office365 and Wordpad.exe and although a 1080p screen would be nice, I don't think they even care if it's a 1440x900 or something like that.
Last edited by Chrispy_ on Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 6:32 am

Do you have any computer shops around that sell used corporate units? A couple-year old thinkpad might be a good fit. Something like a T540. That way you can try out the keyboard in person.
 
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:14 am

I don't think I've ever met a laptop keyboard I truly liked. They seem to range from awful to tolerable. The old ThinkPads were the least bad. Have not tried a recent ThinkPad.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:46 am

2 thoughts:
1) Can they plug in an external keyboard to do their 120wpm typing? That eliminates the keyboard requirement and allows you to focus on other things like specs, screen, battery life, durability, etc.
2) Gaming laptops come to mind since they oftentimes brag about mechanical keyboards. Then it's just a matter of getting something with subdued hardware (IGP only, U-series CPU) so battery life isn't terrible.
3) I'm pretty sure I've heard the thinkpads are some of the best keyboards for typing. The T470 perhaps?
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:53 am

I actually like the 'chiclet' keyboard on an older 16" Toshiba I have... except that the 2wsx column appears to be 'going out', however that is possible. Still nice scissor-switch actuation, similar to what Apple tends to use or has used.

I'll say that the keyboard on my work Latitude 13" isn't that bad at all, either.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:04 am

The scissor switches on Apple's slightly older models are really good. I enjoy typing on my 2013 MBP, but my wife's 2011 MBP has even greater travel on the keyswitches and a better snappy feel. It's really nice. The new ones with their butterfly keyboards are not good. I feel like there isn't enough travel for a comfortable typing experience (Context: I use MX-Brown switches on my desktop at home and have a MS sculpt ergo keyboard at work).
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:10 am

You can get a very well specced T450s for that, maybe a T460s. Avoid the backlit keyboard unless it's required, the keys are kind of slick.
 
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:40 am

Cheers all, found a Thinkpad i3-7100U 13" ultrabook on clearance with an SSD and the non-backlit, sculpted, concave keys with a good few mm of travel. Notebookcheck reviews confirm that Thinkpad's standard (non-backlit) keyboards are the best or among them

Also, dear Apple lovers, I understand that you like your keyboards, but from an ergonomics standpoint they are a cancer that has harmed the industry; In terms of ergonomics they are professionally (ie, in the professional judgement of qualified physiotherapists, doctors and ergonomics experts) quantifiably terrible, both the new butterfly switches and also the older scissor switches.

I agree they look good but that's often the problem with form-over-function, it's not a good idea when it actually causes harm. Type 50,000 words a day for 52 weeks a year and then tell me you love them ;)
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:25 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
Also, dear Apple lovers, I understand that you like your keyboards, but from an ergonomics standpoint they are a cancer that has harmed the industry; In terms of ergonomics they are professionally (ie, in the professional judgement of qualified physiotherapists, doctors and ergonomics experts) quantifiably terrible, both the new butterfly switches and also the older scissor switches.

I agree they look good but that's often the problem with form-over-function, it's not a good idea when it actually causes harm. Type 50,000 words a day for 52 weeks a year and then tell me you love them ;)

I really go out of my way to avoid using the built-in keyboard on my work-issued MBP. When I am at work or working from home I plug a full-size keyboard (I have a pair of trusty old RK-9000s, one at home and one at the office) into it. If I want to get stuff done on the bus/train, I drag a 2nd laptop along (HP EliteBook). The HP's keyboard isn't fantastic, but it is better than the MBP's.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:55 am

just brew it! wrote:
I really go out of my way to avoid using the built-in keyboard on my work-issued MBP. When I am at work or working from home I plug a full-size keyboard (I have a pair of trusty old RK-9000s, one at home and one at the office) into it. If I want to get stuff done on the bus/train, I drag a 2nd laptop along (HP EliteBook). The HP's keyboard isn't fantastic, but it is better than the MBP's.

Just as long as it's not a recalled Envy model. Those come with the Vesuvius App preinstalled.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:35 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
Also, dear Apple lovers, I understand that you like your keyboards, but from an ergonomics standpoint they are a cancer that has harmed the industry; In terms of ergonomics they are professionally (ie, in the professional judgement of qualified physiotherapists, doctors and ergonomics experts) quantifiably terrible, both the new butterfly switches and also the older scissor switches.

Not sure I fall in the "Apple lover" category but I love my MBP. At the same time, I really don't love the keyboard for all the reasons you mention.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:58 am

How about Apple MMGF2LL/A 13.3-Inch MacBook Air?

In my opinion, it doesn’t disappoint one bit as far as the keyboard is concerned. By the way, this is a good options for doing writing work, which I believe is part of the reason why you asked for a laptop recommendation with good keyboard.

This one has about 1 mm of travel area, so it is more comfortable for typing unlike most Acer laptops.

Other specs include:

    1.6 GHz Dual Core Intel Core i5 Processor
    HD Intel Graphics

    16 GB RAM (good for multi-tasking)
    128 GB flash storage

Also, here is a guide on laptops with the best keyboard for writing if you still need more options.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:08 pm

ludi wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
I really go out of my way to avoid using the built-in keyboard on my work-issued MBP. When I am at work or working from home I plug a full-size keyboard (I have a pair of trusty old RK-9000s, one at home and one at the office) into it. If I want to get stuff done on the bus/train, I drag a 2nd laptop along (HP EliteBook). The HP's keyboard isn't fantastic, but it is better than the MBP's.

Just as long as it's not a recalled Envy model. Those come with the Vesuvius App preinstalled.

I don't think there's any overlap between the Elitebook and Envy lines, but it's always good to check. The recall did affect some Probook products but those are still a lot closer to consumer-class derp than the actually fairly decent corporate stuff. With HP/Dell/Lenovo notebooks, I say either go all the way with a top tier business edition or skip them entirely for a PC-focused manufacturer like Asus or Clevo.
 
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:29 pm

NovusBogus wrote:
I don't think there's any overlap between the Elitebook and Envy lines, but it's always good to check. The recall did affect some Probook products but those are still a lot closer to consumer-class derp than the actually fairly decent corporate stuff. With HP/Dell/Lenovo notebooks, I say either go all the way with a top tier business edition or skip them entirely for a PC-focused manufacturer like Asus or Clevo.

Some of the ProBook models appear to be functionally very similar to EliteBook models from the same period though. Even down to having the exact same placement of external ports (I'm guessing same motherboard). They just have a different (cheaper looking/feeling) case, and lack a few bells and whistles like keyboard illumination and a pointing stick.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:24 am

just brew it! wrote:
I don't think I've ever met a laptop keyboard I truly liked. They seem to range from awful to tolerable. The old ThinkPads were the least bad. Have not tried a recent ThinkPad.


Tandy Model 100 was pretty good.
 
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:18 am

Pancake wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
I don't think I've ever met a laptop keyboard I truly liked. They seem to range from awful to tolerable. The old ThinkPads were the least bad. Have not tried a recent ThinkPad.


Tandy Model 100 was pretty good.


Well, if your definition of a laptop extends to something that requires wheeled luggage to move around, then the Acer Predator 21X has a keyboard with Cherry MX Brown keys. That's my gold standard for keyboard ergonomics.

Obviously not a serious suggestion, but I can't take suggestions about Apple's flat, lifeless, chiclet, minimal-travel keyboards seriously either ;)
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:52 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
Pancake wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
I don't think I've ever met a laptop keyboard I truly liked. They seem to range from awful to tolerable. The old ThinkPads were the least bad. Have not tried a recent ThinkPad.


Tandy Model 100 was pretty good.


Well, if your definition of a laptop extends to something that requires wheeled luggage to move around, then the Acer Predator 21X has a keyboard with Cherry MX Brown keys. That's my gold standard for keyboard ergonomics.

Obviously not a serious suggestion, but I can't take suggestions about Apple's flat, lifeless, chiclet, minimal-travel keyboards seriously either ;)


Model 100 was about the size of a netbook.

Now, if we really want to get fast and loose with definition of portability - my Kaypro 4 (well, I had two and a Kaypro 2 - cos I liked my Kaypros). Now, THAT was a CP/M 2.2 portable development workstation perfection. Blazingly fast Z80A at 4MHz. A FULL 64KB of RAM. Storage luxury with TWO dual-sided double-density 5 1/4" WAY FAST floppy disk drives. And to top it off, a clunky-clunk full-travel old-school fully sprung keyboard in a steel chassis. To me, that was the pinnacle of luxury Z80 assembly programming environments - I was doing embedded systems programming at the time.
 
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:06 am

The Kaypro basically killed Osborne.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:30 am

just brew it! wrote:
The Kaypro basically killed Osborne.
Some of it was self-inflicted.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_effect
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:43 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
Cheers all, found a Thinkpad i3-7100U 13" ultrabook on clearance with an SSD and the non-backlit, sculpted, concave keys with a good few mm of travel. Notebookcheck reviews confirm that Thinkpad's standard (non-backlit) keyboards are the best or among them

Also, dear Apple lovers, I understand that you like your keyboards, but from an ergonomics standpoint they are a cancer that has harmed the industry; In terms of ergonomics they are professionally (ie, in the professional judgement of qualified physiotherapists, doctors and ergonomics experts) quantifiably terrible, both the new butterfly switches and also the older scissor switches.

I agree they look good but that's often the problem with form-over-function, it's not a good idea when it actually causes harm. Type 50,000 words a day for 52 weeks a year and then tell me you love them ;)

Is THAT where this ridiculous fad came from? Ugh! "Cancer" is too nice a word!

We have some HP desktops at work that came with those horrid flat keyboards. With the ones I use frequently, I've gone and found old retired USB keyboards from storage lockers and swapped them out. They might be old and grungy but at least they have real buttons!
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:46 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
The Kaypro basically killed Osborne.
Some of it was self-inflicted.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_effect

Sure, they made a lot of bad decisions. But if Kaypro hadn't grabbed most of the market niche they occupied, they would've probably survived for at least another product generation (if not longer).
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:00 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
Chrispy_ wrote:
Also, dear Apple lovers, I understand that you like your keyboards, but from an ergonomics standpoint they are a cancer that has harmed the industry; In terms of ergonomics they are professionally (ie, in the professional judgement of qualified physiotherapists, doctors and ergonomics experts) quantifiably terrible, both the new butterfly switches and also the older scissor switches.

Not sure I fall in the "Apple lover" category but I love my MBP. At the same time, I really don't love the keyboard for all the reasons you mention.

Lump me in here too. I can "handle" the old style chiclets (though it is FAR from ideal), but the new keyboard is complete and utter trash.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:10 am

DancinJack wrote:
Lump me in here too. I can "handle" the old style chiclets (though it is FAR from ideal), but the new keyboard is complete and utter trash.

Thirded. I have an old MacBook (Late 2009) at home and a my last 3 work laptops have been MacBook Air's (Mid 2009, Mid 2012, Early 2015), and the keyboard on the former is okay, those on the latter ones is tolerable, and IMO the ones on recent MacBooks (Early 2015+) and MacBook Pro's (Late 2016+) are bloody awful.

I can only hope there's a MacBook or modern MacBook Air with a decent keyboard out in the next year or so, not expecting it though. I may be refusing to upgrade my work machine this summer too...
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:45 am

I see a great need: someone should take the case and keyboard on a dead Apple //c and put modern guts inside, including an integrated LCD panel. That would technically be a luggable, but the keyboard was pretty good aside from the arrow keys' layout.
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:55 am

kvndoom wrote:
Chrispy_ wrote:
Also, dear Apple lovers, I understand that you like your keyboards, but from an ergonomics standpoint they are a cancer that has harmed the industry

Is THAT where this ridiculous fad came from? Ugh! "Cancer" is too nice a word!

We have some HP desktops at work that came with those horrid flat keyboards. With the ones I use frequently, I've gone and found old retired USB keyboards from storage lockers and swapped them out. They might be old and grungy but at least they have real buttons!


Yeah, I am 99.9% sure that the influx of chiclet-keyboards was started by people trying to copy the 2005 Macbooks, and their design is all about the looks rather than the ergonomics.

I'm old and I've been around since the days when everything was beige; Since the very first chiclet clones of the 2005 macbook appeared, good membrane keyboards have all but vanished as other manufacturers copy the ergonomically-terrible, 'form over function' design of the Apple keyboards, and do a poor/cheap job of it to boot.

At least on desktops, there's a resurgence in mechanical keyswitches but the best a laptop user can hope for these days is a sculpted keycap. The nature of chiclet keyboards is that the scissor switches have to be physically smaller, and that directly translates to shorter travel, less stability, more friction, faster wear, and keys that are easier to damage. So yeah, perhaps cancer was too kind a word. Cancer can be treated, but the Apple Keyboard Plague is gaining momentum and looks to be unstoppable :|
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Re: Cheap laptop with good keyboard.

Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:02 am

I would advise searching for a refurbished Latitude E7470/80/90. Usually they are available for around $600 with SSD + 1080p IPS and they are pretty good

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