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Lenovo Tinkers With Larger Delete and Escape Keys 586

Posted by timothy
from the boffins-are-everywhere dept.
Slatterz writes "After a year's research, Lenovo boffins have decided the time is right to install larger Delete and Escape keys on their updated ThinkPad laptop T400s range. While it is a small change, it is fairly radical to tinker with an area of hardware which has been largely unchanged since the 19th century. What convinced them to make the size-change was doing some tests on users to see which keys they use the most. They found that on average, people used the Escape and Delete keys 700 times per week, yet those were the only non-letter keys that Lenovo hasn't made any bigger." The article says Caps Lock may be next on the agenda; death is too good for Caps Lock.
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Lenovo Tinkers With Larger Delete and Escape Keys

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  • No need (Score:5, Funny)

    by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:14PM (#28509301) Journal
    Pfft. Deletee kye? I never usses taht aneemore.
    • Re:No need (Score:5, Funny)

      by flyingsquid (813711) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:36PM (#28509445)
      Making the "Delete" key larger isn't a bad idea. But since Windows is still the most widely used operating system out there, maybe they should make the "Control" and "Alt" keys larger as well...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ThePromenader (878501)

        ...and since the ctrl-alt-delete keys are so often used in Windows PC's, why don't they regroup them to their own region of the keyboard? In fact, why not combine them into a unique oversized (and possibly bright red) "panic button"? But I digress... keyboards should reflect progressive user habits; not the failings of the operating system they control.

        Key size is not the only pre-90's "tradition" that has to go - the "num lock" key is rather pointless for most desktop users - the numeric pad has been an in

        • Re:No need (Score:4, Informative)

          by bern1959 (755068) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:43AM (#28510295)
          Historical note ..... The key combination of CTRL-ALT-DEL was specifically selected because they were so far apart. The original keyboard did not have a CTRL key on the right hand side. This required both hands to press three keys simultaneously, thus making it harder to do accidently
          • Re:No need (Score:5, Funny)

            by walt-sjc (145127) on Monday June 29, 2009 @05:09AM (#28511793)

            Waaay back when, in the days of the glory of DOS, I transitioned a programmer from a terminal to a PC. He only had one arm. When telling him how to reboot, his response was "Oh that's just fucking great." He had to use a pencil in his mouth.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Opportunist (166417)

          Are you insane? NumLock is autorun on most MMOs, you'd force people playing WoW to actually press and hold a button on the keyboard!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          ...the "num lock" key is rather pointless for most desktop users - the numeric pad has been an integrated part of most all desktop keyboards since decades...

          Do you even know what NumLock is for? It's to allow you to toggle your numeric keypad between numbers and positioning keys (arrows, PgUp, etc.).

          As the user of a laptop with a numeric keypad (one of the reasons I bought the unit), I happen to find NumLock extremely useful. If you really don't care for its presence on your keyboard, I'll be happy to loan you a pair of pliers.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by EdIII (1114411) *

            I think his point was that the button needs to be removed, or removed from where it is, not that the function itself be eliminated.

            It's interesting to hear all the arguments about NumLock, CapsLock, PrintScreen, Pause/Break, ScrollLock, etc. Nearly everybody sees that one key is useless, while their "preferred" key is quite useful, or the best thing since sliced bread.

            All of those keys have essentially been repurposed by programmers. Scroll Lock would seemingly not have a purpose, yet it lives on in KVM s

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by deniable (76198)
          That's great until some numbskull at Microsoft makes a keyboard without a proper insert key and you need to use the one on the number pad. I've had it happen. Using the num pad is also the only way to get the Home/End/PgUp/PgDown keys consistently positioned, also thanks to the same 'keyboard artists.'
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Prof.Phreak (584152)

        They should swap Fn and Ctrl. I'm sure most linux/unix users would agree.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by lwsimon (724555)

          No, not really. Most of us just remap the keys how we want them. It has the added bonus of confusing people trying to use out terminals.

    • Re:No need (Score:4, Funny)

      by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@ema . i l> on Sunday June 28, 2009 @11:07PM (#28509685) Journal
      So how's that iPhone treating ya? :)
    • Re:No need (Score:5, Funny)

      by xouumalperxe (815707) on Monday June 29, 2009 @05:49AM (#28512021)

      Real Men use ^H.

  • by Vandil X (636030) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:17PM (#28509309)
    and, more importantly, reduce calls during your off hours because a user locked out his/her account due to CAPS LOCK being on when entering a password.
    • by zonky (1153039)
      I'm using a Dragon 32, you insenstive clod [classiccmp.org]
      • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:03AM (#28510035)

        I'm using a Dragon 32, you insenstive clod

        I've been collecting vintage computer hardware for the last few months, and I gotta say, my Tandy CoCo3 (128K version) has by _far_ the best keyboard of any of the 8 or 16-bit machines I've used. I never used one back in the day, so the mint condition one I just got last month _really_ surprised me with the keyboard feel. I also got a Tandy 102 that was still in its unopened box. :)

        Back to the subject of keyboards, though, to say noone has been messing with the layout of keys is to be completely unaware of computers of the last several years. Certainly there's a small player in the industry called 'Microsoft' that has been making some fairly commonly found keyboards that have the keys normally found above the arrow keys to be arranged in strange and remarkably unpleasant ways. I'm pleased to say the latest entry in their 'Natural' line has returned those keys to the proper position - the MS Natural 4000 keyboard not only unbreaks the keyboard layout changes they made in previous keyboards, but also returns the tilt to the correct location - the front, not the back (which actually makes things WORSE ergonomically). Plus it's available in beautiful, beautiful black. :)

    • by corsec67 (627446) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:20PM (#28509337) Homepage Journal

      Yep, the key to the left of "A" should be Ctrl. That is one think about the OLPC XO-1 keyboard I like. The actual keys are crap, though.

      They had laptops or typewriters with function and modifier keys in the 19th century?

      • by setagllib (753300) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:30PM (#28509403)

        How else would they use vi and emacs?

      • by ignavus (213578) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:34PM (#28509431)

        They had laptops or typewriters with function and modifier keys in the 19th century?

        Yeah, of course!

        What do you think Ada Lovelace, the first programmer, used to code with?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by camperdave (969942)
        Yep, the key to the left of "A" should be Ctrl.

        Why? Because some obsolete VT-52 or obscure Wyse terminal had it there? What are you going to do with the right ctrl key if you move the left one above the shift key? Place it above the right shift key where the enter key is? Or perhaps you'd leave the right ctrl key where it is and have an asymmetric modifier key layout?

        No, the real problem with keyboards is the NumLock key. The number keys and cursor control keys should never have been allowed to mix.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Al Dimond (792444)
          Why must the modifier layout be symmetric? Because some keyboard you're used to has it that way (the typical keyboard today doesn't... it has a menu key on one side but not the other)? I'm pretty neutral on the placement of Ctrl; my current keyboard at home has it left of the A key and has no right Ctrl (it's a Sun Type 6 Unix board), but I get along fine at work with more typical layouts. When the Ctrl keys are on the bottom row, because they're on the corners, I tend to hit them with my palms instead o
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hankwang (413283) *

            When the Ctrl keys are on the bottom row, because they're on the corners, I tend to hit them with my palms instead of my fingers so I don't have to move my hands so much.

            I used to do that. It gave me a pretty bad RSI (fingers and arms hurting day and night, even after quitting keyboarding for a week) when I switched from single-tasking DOS to multi-tasking Linux. I then switched caps and control and moved to Dvorak layout, which did improve things for me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Werrismys (764601)
          Because it's NATURAL to have CTRL there. Jesus used CTRL that was left from A.
          It hurts to hunt CTRL from the fucking corner. Better have both. Capslock is useless, either kill the fucker or hide it behinf FN-this or that.
          I have capslock mapped as CTRL on my ubuntu boxes and on my mac - matter of clicketi-click via preferences.
        • No, the real problem with keyboards is the NumLock key.

          Really? It's never a problem for me.

          I think the really really real problems of keyboards are:

          • Very little use of the thumbs: my thumbs operate the space key. Maybe the Alt keys. That's about 0.5 or 1.5 keys per finger. Meanwhile, my index fingers handle "4 5 p y u i k x" and "6 7 f g d h b m" (I use the Dvorak layout) for a whopping 8 keys per finger.
          • The arrow keys are far away from the home row (i.e. "asdf jkl;"), meaning you have to move far to get there, which takes time. Move the arrow and cursor co
    • by davevt5 (30696) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @11:24PM (#28509795) Homepage Journal

      I have a Lenovo T400 and the placement of the DEL key always annoyed me. I use a program called KeyTweak (http://webpages.charter.net/krumsick/) to remap my lenovo keyboard as follows:

      Right CTRL key is DEL
      Those silly keys to the right and left of the up arrow are HOME and END

      And finally, drum roll please... the CAPS key is mapped to the TAB key so I have a gigantic space to mash my chubby fingers when looking for a tab stop!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by patro (104336)

      The original function of Caps Lock is nuisance. If you are on Windows you can set Caps Lock to do an actually useful thing which makes your life a whole lot easier:

      http://lifehacker.com/5278802/iswitchw-finds-windows-as-you-type [lifehacker.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      and, more importantly, reduce calls during your off hours because a user locked out his/her account due to CAPS LOCK being on when entering a password.

      Give them Vista - it helpfully warns with "OMG WTF CAPS LOCK!!!" at login screen when it sees it on.

      Then again, when the user cannot login, that's 1 problem. Once they can, be sure that there will be many more - so why call it upon yourself?

    • Caps lock will be the end of unintended shouting

      I would like you to meet my friend, Khassaki:

      <Khassaki> HI EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!!!
      <Judge-Mental> try pressing the the Caps Lock key
      <Khassaki> O THANKS!!! ITS SO MUCH EASIER TO WRITE NOW!!!!!!!
      <Judge-Mental> fuck me

      (From http://www.bash.org/?835030 [bash.org])

  • by neapolitan (1100101) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:17PM (#28509317)

    I am happy to see some thought go in to "routine" matters like this -- too often I feel that laptop keyboards have abominable designs, such as shrunken space bars and control keys, miniscule arrow keys, or nonstandard placement of arrow keys, etc.

    However, I would say the esc enlargement on my Lenovo is unneeded -- its location above the other keys means it is struck accurately. I would venture to say the same for the delete key, which I could locate with my eyes closed by its characteristic placement. I think the aesthetics of the vertical extension of these keys is going to be negative.

    For my money, I wish they would just lay off the IBM keyboard design. Thinkpads should not have a Windows key. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mad Merlin (837387)

      For my money, I wish they would just lay off the IBM keyboard design. Thinkpads should not have a Windows key. :)

      Yes, absolutely. Lenovo's biggest mistake is tarnishing the ThinkPad keyboard with a 'doze key. The second biggest mistake is making (almost) all ThinkPads shortscreen, but my understanding is that they were essentially forced down that path by their suppliers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        I'd say the opposite. There are two things I hate about my R31's keyboard. The first is the lack of a meta key, so I need to map control to meta and then have irritating conflicts in the terminal (no meta-c for copy, because control-c sends SIGINT). The other is the escape key being on a row by itself, so I always hit F1 when I aim for escape and enter help instead of command mode in Vim. I don't care if what picture the meta key has, because I can't see it when I'm typing since it's under the palm of m
  • by XnavxeMiyyep (782119) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:19PM (#28509331)
    Lenovo has adware in their updates, but they might sell a laptop without a caps lock key! It's like they're simultaneously the worst and best computer company at the same time.
  • Nineteenth Century (Score:5, Informative)

    by Speare (84249) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:20PM (#28509339) Homepage Journal
    Show me a keyboard that even HAD the Delete or Escape keys, idiot. Hell, when I learned to type, you had to use a lowercase L for the digit 1, and a capital O for the digit zero. Exclamation point was "apostrophe, backspace, period."
    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:31PM (#28509417) Homepage Journal

      Show me a keyboard that even HAD the Delete or Escape keys, idiot. Hell, when I learned to type, you had to use a lowercase L for the digit 1, and a capital O for the digit zero. Exclamation point was "apostrophe, backspace, period."

      You had backspace? I had to disconnect the carriage and slide it to the left.

      • by Animats (122034) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:44AM (#28510297) Homepage

        You had backspace? I had to disconnect the carriage and slide it to the left.

        Ah, yes, life before backspace erasure. Keypunches. Flexowriters. Baudot teletypes.

        I have this Teletype Model 15 keyboard [wikipedia.org]. (That exact keyboard; the picture in Wikipedia is of my machine. Yes, I need to machine a new space bar.) Each key has a travel of about half an inch, and produces not just an audible "click", but a "whir-chunk" as the keyboard encoder, which is a mechanical device with cams, does a parallel to serial conversion. There's a speed limit; once you've pressed a key, you can't press another one until the encoder is finished. There is no key rollover, but you can't push two keys at once because the encoding mechanism prevents it. There are 32 keys, since this is a five bit code and they're all used. There are two shifts, FIGS and LTRS. The keyboard just sends those; it itself has no notion of shifting.

        There's one unused key, the "blank key", which sends the all ones character. My software for the machine uses that as backspace, typing a "/" followed by the letter just deleted. The machine itself has no backspace capability. So you can't backspace too much, or you hit the right margin, for which I delete the whole line.

        This is 1930s technology. There were printing telegraphs and stock tickers back to 1870, so electrical keyboards do go back to the 19th century. Edison had a machine with a semicircular keyboard (not for ergonomics; the keys radiated out from the center of a round machine). Linotypes (which, amazingly, appeared in 1886) had entirely electrical keyboards, with separate keys for upper and lower case letters.

        Teletypes loosely followed the Underwood typewriter layout because the Model 12 Teletype (the first one that worked well enough to deploy, from 1921) was a heavily modified Underwood typewriter. Computer keyboards since then have a direct line of descent from the original Morkrum Model 12, through decades of Baudot machines, and into the ASCII era.

    • Numlock, arrow keys, Alt, Control, Windows/Apple, f1 - f12, page up, page down, scroll lock, insert, home, end, Fn... etc, etc

      The statement about the 19th century is a load of shit. I remember a wide variety of keyboards from the 1980s. Slightly increasing the size of the escape and delete keys is nothing compared to, for example, adding a numpad or adding a green "copy" key. What about those ergonomic split keyboards? Surely that would be a larger change to the nineteenth century design than making a coupl

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:20PM (#28509341)
    The article says Caps Lock may be next on the agenda; death is too good for Caps Lock.
    If Lenovo is going to do it - Caps Lock will die a death and no one will notice. It is better for the industry to let Apple do what it does best and let the Caps lock die at Apple's hand. They will sell a iCapsLock add-on for $30 to stir up things even further and the caps lock death will then be rightly celebrated by the loads of forum posts and bickering by people newly realizing how much they miss the Caps lock now that it is gone.
  • caps lock (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bitch-Face Jones (588723) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:20PM (#28509345)
    is cruise control for cool
  • Bigger ENTER too!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I would like a bigger enter too, made so it takes more "vertical" space (somewhat relocating the \ key) like on some European keyboard layouts.

    • I would like a bigger enter too, made so it takes more "vertical" space (somewhat relocating the \ key) like on some European keyboard layouts.

      Then you are a fool. How could you possibly miss the already enormous enter key? No, far far far more infuriating is when you go to type a | or a \ and you accidentally hit the stupidly enlarged enter key which has consumed the proper place for the \| key. To add insult to injury, in this braindead keyboard design, the \| key typically consumes the left half of where backspace is supposed to be, meaning you'll accidentally hit enter instead of \|, and then you'll go to correct your mistake and then you'll a

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:25PM (#28509373)
    Statements such as...

    "...They found that on average, people used the Escape and Delete keys 700 times per week..."

    are meaningless unless they (Lenovo) tell us what type of keyboard layout the tested computers had or even what applications people used. By the way, who constituted what they refer to as "people?"

  • by xixax (44677) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:36PM (#28509447)

    So let me get this straight.

    The best way to improve keying accuracy is to create even more derivative keyboard layouts?

    I'd guess the del key might even afford to be *smaller* as it is used more often and hence more easily remembered.

    I would have had a bit more sympathy if the article had said they'd placed it in a more accessible location ala space bar (rather than off to one side of the main keymap).

    Maybe they could create a "Lenovo" key to sit between the "Windows" key and a new "Dave was here!" key. Then I can loan them my 16 button hexdecimal mouse[1].

    Xix.
    [1] Otherwise known as a digitizing puck

  • Goldtouch Keyboard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chroma (33185) <chroma@mind s p r i ng.com> on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:38PM (#28509463) Homepage

    I've got a couple Goldtouch keyboards that have a great improvement: extra Delete and Backspace keys on the left hand side of the keyboard. It's very helpful when you've got your right hand on the mouse.

    Also, Goldtouch moved the Windows and Right Click/Context Menu keys off of the main area into a separate space. Both of these are great improvements.

    • by xixax (44677)

      Yes, there's oodles of room for real improvements.

      I love Sun Type5 keybards because the cut/paste & front/back keys is on the left hand side of the keyboard. Ditto super handy when your right hand is on the mouse.

      Xix.

  • by failedlogic (627314) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:53PM (#28509567)

    Here's a better idea Lenovo: enlarge the: U, O, Y, K, C, U, F keys. ;)

  • Boffins? (Score:5, Funny)

    by IceFoot (256699) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @11:01PM (#28509647)

    Lenovo has boffins? What the heck are they, creatures from Lord of the Rings? Some kind of exotic bird? Wait, the dictionary says it's BRITISH SLANG. Well, you can just keep your esoteric BRITISH SLANG over there on your little island, buster, because we don't need no stinking BRITISH SLANG over here in America, or the rest of the world for that matter. If you can't write in standard English so English speakers around the world can understand it, just press your DELETE key (no matter what size it is) and go do something else. *grumble* damned Recoats *grumble*

    • Re:Boffins? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cimexus (1355033) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @11:46PM (#28509911)

      America doesn't use the word 'boffins'? That's such a 'regular' word (to me) that I never even realised it was slang. (I'm Australian but have lived in America for quite a while - never occurred to me you guys didn't use that word). Well you learn something every day.

      Sure enough though, you are right (according to Wiki). And the fact that most of the hits you get on Google if you search for the term are .au or .uk sites.

      Having said that, I think it's pretty obvious what it means given the rest of the sentence. Plus Slashdot often uses US slang (or not even slang, but US words which have other equivalents elsewhere) all the time in headlines, but that doesn't trouble the rest of us (too much). Context is your friend.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by goodmanj (234846)

        America doesn't use the word 'boffins'?

        No. If there's one thing that instantly pegs someone as "not American", it's using the word 'boffin'. Either that, or looking shocked when we talk about "spanking a child's fanny."

  • by mevets (322601) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @11:03PM (#28509661)

    This has to be the biggest upgrade to PC usability since PC 97 added colour coding the mouse and keyboard connectors. Well done.

  • Caps Lock Idea... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Evil Shabazz (937088) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @11:32PM (#28509833)
    I don't care much about the Delete and Escape key changes mentioned in TFA... but I think the article's author gives a glimpse of tech-naivete' by suggesting that the Caps Lock key is obsolete. Just because he doesn't see a reason for Caps Lock out there in his little business world doesn't mean the key isn't highly useful to application developers. I'll point out SQL capitalization standards as just one example.

    DELETE FROM my.memory WHERE opinion = his
    /
    COMMIT
    • Re:Caps Lock Idea... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by patro (104336) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @11:57PM (#28509995) Journal

      Just because he doesn't see a reason for Caps Lock out there in his little business world doesn't mean the key isn't highly useful to application developers. I'll point out SQL capitalization standards as just one example.

      DELETE FROM my.memory WHERE opinion = his
      /
      COMMIT

      Well, if you have a proper editor you don't need to type those keywords in caps, because the editor does it for you automatically.

    • by dizee (143832) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:12AM (#28510095) Homepage

      i'm a senior software developer at a LAMP shop; i write a lot of SQL for ad-hoc queries and what-not. i capitalize SQL queries, even in my ad-hoc queries (it's a good habit to get into if only for readability), but i don't ever use the caps lock key. it is more efficient for me to hold down the shift key (which is closer to my pinky than the caps lock key) while continuing to type at the same pace than it is to stop and press and release the caps lock key. i suspect this is likely the case with most people who are able to type at any reasonable pace.

      so, your example fails to convince.

      the only reason i can see for keeping the caps lock key is for old and/or braindead systems that don't speak anything but uppercase.

  • by fragMasterFlash (989911) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:03AM (#28510041)
    On behalf of myself and all the other forum junkies can we please get a larger, ruggedized F5 key?

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