ThinkPad Compact Bluetooth Keyboard With TrackPoint

April 9, 2014

Ask any developer what his or her favorite physical tool is and I’m pretty sure the keyboard will be one of the top three items. Me, I spend a ridiculous amount of time in front of a keyboard, and since I got my T431s, I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to the non-standard layout of the ThinkPad’s keyboard.

The biggest difference from standard keyboards are the swapped locations of the fn and (left) ctrl keys, as well as the position of the PrtScr, PgUp and PgDn keys.

Ever since I started at Bazooka I’ve been using the classic Logitech Ultra-flat X keyboard, which is a standard keyboard with laptop keys. I actually used the same keyboard at Devotia, so it’s pretty much been my go-to keyboard since ’07.

The problem with this situation was that I got used to the ThinkPad keyboard, and then at work I had to change my finger-memory for the Logitech keyboard. Since I like the keyboard on the ThinkPad — and I really can’t change that keyboard, seeing as it’s part of the laptop — I felt that I wanted to get a similar keyboard for work.

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After a few google searches I found the ThinkPad Compact keyboard, it’s pretty much identical to my laptop’s keyboard, the only difference is the mouse keys for the TrackPoint, the T431s has the newer version with the buttons embedded in the trackpad — looks better, but the solution ends up being unusable.

Anyway, I decided to order the keyboard, the bluetooth edition (I found out about the wired edition after I had placed my order, if I had known, I would’ve gone with that one instead).

The keyboard doesn’t have a numpad, which is a price I’m willing to pay, I’d rather give that up than continuing messing up my finger memory by having different keyboards at home and at work.

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Size-wise the laptop keyboard and the compact keyboard are identical, the keys match each other perfectly. The only difference I’ve found so far is the texturing. My laptop’s keyboard has a more glossy-like finish whilst the bluetooth keyboard has a more traditional rough plastic texture, if I had to take a guess I’m pretty sure it’s because the laptop has the backlit keyboard, which means that the keys need to be transparent, I’m kind of certain that the non-backlit version has the same texture as the external keyboard.

The TrackPoint works as advertised, it takes a lot of getting used to and since the TrackPoint is pretty much useless on my laptop (because of the mouse-keys being integrated in the trackpad) I don’t think I’m going to use it that much. I was an avid user of the TrackPoint on earlier ThinkPads that I’ve owned, but that was quite a while ago and I can’t see myself going back.

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The placement of the page up and page down keys. It’s interesting that they’ve decided to tack on a ThinkPad logo and not a Lenovo logo.

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The swapped placement of the left control key and the function key — one of the main reasons why I wanted it.

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The keyboard is really thin even though it has a non user-replaceable battery inside. You can charge it with the included micro-usb cable, sadly the USB cable can only be used for charging purposes i.e. there’s no communication going over the wire. The bluetooth paring was simple and was pretty much straight forward, Windows 8 was able to find the appropriate drivers and everything worked out of the box (though I had to reboot in order to get the ThinkPad OSD to work properly).

I’m pretty happy about the keyboard, the only problem I’ve had so far is that the bluetooth connections is pretty flaky, so if you’re looking to get one of these, I highly recommend going for the wired version, not only should it be more stable, it’s also cheaper.

As earlier mentioned, I don’t use the TrackPoint on this device, but I’ve read on other reviews that the TrackPoint is also really flaky because of the aforementioned bluetooth issue.

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The keyboard ended up saving a lot of desk real estate on my desk, it’s a lot smaller than the UltraFlatX (largely thanks to the lack of a numpad).

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