Skip if rants annoy you.
Honestly, I wouldn’t want one regardless of which particular keyboard layout they install, as long as they don’t adhere to the layout completely. I wish laptop manufacturers would stop trying to deviate from the standard keyboard layout. But unfortunately it’s even worse than that: for some inexplicable reason they’re changing it up with every model they release. And they make insane layout decisions that totally ruin the experience. If you’d apply current laptop design practices to the field of taxidermy, you’d end up with the lion of Gripsholm Castle…
I own a Thinkpad X220, T520 and W520. They all have the same fully standard keyboard layout (sans numpad). They have decent keys with enough travel that feel very similar to the keys on my bog-standard desktop keyboard. I don’t need to adapt when switching between them and the desktop. But if I got myself a modern laptop, I’d have to learn to type all over again with each new machine that I buy. I mean, just look at the Librem 14:
- Arrow keys double as home/end/pgup/pgdown with the use of the fn key
- Arrow keys crammed into the alphanumerical area, disturbing the layout
- Even worse: the up arrow is where my pinky expects the shift key. That’s a cardinal sin! I used to own a similar keyboard: every time I’d want to type a capital letter on it I’d be typing its lowercase version on the previous line. Why? Because unfortunately, I’m handicapped in the sense that I can type blind. Laptop keyboards nowadays favour hunt-and-peckers.
- Zero spacing between esc-F1, F4-F5, F8-F9, F12-SysRq. You can’t do F5, F11, Alt-F4 or any of that stuff blind, since you’re lacking the gaps to guide your fingers.
- No, having backlit keys does not alleviate any of this. Sure, they make it easier to see which keys are where, but that completely misses the point that a keyboard should adhere to the standard layouts so one can type blind on them, without slowing down to visually hunt for keys!!!
And the worst part? They have more real-estate available for the keyboard than the X220 has. Yet the X220 manages to adhere to the standard layout of the good old desktop keyboard while the Librem 14 is a random hodge-podge of “meh, whatever”. The layout wasn’t changed out of necessity, there is PLENTY of room available to put in a standard layout.
Give me a modern laptop, with an actual keyboard, as opposed to the junk we currently get under the “but the keyboard doesn’t matter; who would ever use a laptop for anything other than to watch movies?” mentality. I use my laptop for work. I expect a decent keyboard. At the moment, every single laptop manufacturer who’s been blindly copying Apple’s disastrous design decisions is letting me down. Not every laptop is a “DVD player with built-in screen”; some of us actually work on them.