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Ask Slashdot: Recommendations For a Laptop With a Keypad That Doesn't Suck 300

PhunkySchtuff writes "I'm seeking the collective's recommendations on a laptop with a numeric keypad that doesn't suck. For practicality reasons, an external USB keypad is less convenient than a built-in one. A keypad is required for entry of lots of numbers, and using the alpha keys with the Fn key to turn them into a keypad is not acceptable. Looking at the larger manufacturers, it seems that none of their business grade laptops (e.g. Lenovo's T-Series or similar quality levels) have numeric keypads. Looking at their laptops that do have keypads, invariably they are cheap, plastic and flimsy. Looking at Lenovo's offering with a Keypad, whilst it's a 15" screen, the vertical resolution is just 768 pixels, and the build quality of it leaves a lot to be desired. I need to find something that is built to the quality of a 'real' ThinkPad, or even a MacBook Pro, but has a full-sized keyboard with a numeric keypad and there doesn't seem to be anything like that on the market at the moment. This is a mystery to me as to why it would be the case as I'd imagine it's business users who need to use a keypad more than the average user, yet it is the consumer grade laptops that have keypads."
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Ask Slashdot: Recommendations For a Laptop With a Keypad That Doesn't Suck

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  • Clevo (Score:3, Informative)

    by partofme ( 2643183 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:17PM (#40052093)
    Clevo's laptops are awesome. They're pricey, but well. I bought mine an year ago and it has been just awesome. Performance is better than you get out of your usual desktop, in games too. Cost 3000 euros, but totally worth it. It also has good numpad, which is essential.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by beelsebob ( 529313 )

      They're also not laptops, they're desktops with screens attached. They're not portable, their battery doesn't last. I'm guessing that if the guy can't manage to carry a USB keyboard around, he also can't have a 3 ton brick as a "laptop".

      • I fully agree on the battery front. On my device it also goes empty really quickly. However, I think it's mostly about what your real usage is. As for me, I do not need a laptop that I can use on battery power anywhere. But as I live traveling, I need something that I can easily carry around and still be powerful. For that purpose it's perfect. I have power wherever I stay anyway.

        And Macbook Air on the side :)
      • They're also not laptops, they're desktops with screens attached. They're not portable, their battery doesn't last. I'm guessing that if the guy can't manage to carry a USB keyboard around, he also can't have a 3 ton brick as a "laptop".

        Um... yeah....I'm going to have to disagree with you there.... [displayblog.com] just because it's heavy (this model is 12 lbs with a 18" 1080p screen [displayblog.com]), doesn't mean it's not a laptop, and there's a big difference between carrying around a heavy laptop and carrying around a laptop + extra full-size keyboard.

  • Toshiba (Score:5, Informative)

    by basecastula ( 2556196 ) <basecase.fm@gmailREDHAT.com minus distro> on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:17PM (#40052099)
    P775d-s4360. bought one several months ago. key pad and keyboard rocks. Kinda shitty support however.
  • Dell Precision M4600 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:18PM (#40052115)

    I have ordered a bunch of Precision M4600s for my users and they seem to like the keypad. Dell eliminated the speaker grills from on either side of the keyboard that were on the Precision M4500 and used the extra space for the keypad. The resolution is 1920 x 1080 unfortunately instead of 1920 x 1200 that was on the previous models. Screen is 15.4".

    • You'll be hard pushed to find anything that's 16:10 these days, even desktop monitors.

      • "You'll be hard pushed to find anything that's 16:10 these days, even desktop monitors."

        No kidding. After so many years of monitor resolution steadily going up, I bought a Princeton 1920 x 1200 a couple of years ago, and since then most of them have seemed to go DOWN to 1920 x 1080, even while the prices continued to go up.

        I call foul. Lots of us do things with our monitors OTHER THAN watch movies. We don't need to all be forced into a short, wide format.

        • In the same boat as you, my friend. I have had this 24" 1920x1200 monitor for quite some time now for the same reasons. I could get a bigger screen, but actually lose real-estate - it's mental.

          • Yea, that's true. Funny thing I've got a 24 inch to replace my aging 19 inch and guess what, it's less taller than the 19 inch!!! WTF. Visibly and in some rather important respect: the 19 inch is larger than A4 length, whilst the 24 inch is smaller. WTF?!
            I was saying for a long time that we'll end up with displays that are XXX inches long but have only one line, it seems that we're getting close to this!

            To add insult to injury, there are still movies that are "too wide" for my 24 inch!

        • If it's widescreen they can charge a premium.

          Shortscreen doesn't sound as good, does it?

    • I have a Latitude E6520 which also has a built-in number pad and 19x10 screen. I don't really like the number pad feature, I'm having trouble getting accustomed to having the keyboard shifted to the left. It's not flimsy, it has a metal top case and cast magnesium base (magnesium alloy, presumably). I've always enjoyed the build quality of the Precision laptops (I still have an M70 that gets occasional use) but I'd say that so far the E6520 is at least on par with the HP Elitebook line.

      • I got it not knowing it had a number pad. I don't know why it has one or on what basis Dell chooses to put it on some and not others. The keyboard and trackpad being shifted off center is bothersome.

        It makes me curious what the dimensions of Dell's other 15in laptops are that don't include the number pad. Is the screen smaller? Is the keyboard larger? In the future I'm going to avoid buying the Inspiron line. You never know what you're gonna get.

    • This is the 17" beast (or actually, the previous generation -- the M6600 is current). I don't particularly like the keyboard (my old Inspiron 9400 had a better one), but it's better than most laptops and it does have a keypad. It also has oodles of expansion capability -- fingerprint reader, smartcard reader, 32 GB RAM, 2 2.5" disks, mSATA (so you can have 3 disks!), USB 3. I bought mine on eBay (had it about 6 months so far), but you can probably still get refurbs from Dell.

      The M6600 has faster processo

  • Centered (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:18PM (#40052117)

    Slightly offtopic, but I like my keyboard centered. I don't get it how someone can use a laptop keyboard with numeric keypad.

    • If I had mod points, you'd go through the roof. I have no idea either how people put up with laptops with numeric keypads.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cristiroma ( 606375 )
        Let me think ... because not all are programmers? Numeric keyboards seem to make accountants come ...
        • Re:Centered (Score:5, Insightful)

          by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @02:23PM (#40052587) Journal
          Indeed - I worked in a bookshop where we were constantly entering ISBN numbers, a 13 digit string. It's an absolute nightmare to do on the top row, but you can learn to very quickly touch-type on a keypad in minutes. For normal typing yes you've got a point, but for anything involving continual entry of numeric data a keypad is so much faster and accurate it's unbelievable.
      • by sosume ( 680416 )

        Same here. If OP has to enter massive amounts of numeric data he's best of with a regular USB keyboard. Cheaper than an external numpad and it will make the laptop last longer.

      • Replying to you because you're logged in, and not the AC.

        The way you handle a 15.6" laptop is:

        1) If it's on your lap: just let the numpad hang off the side of your right thigh. No biggie.

        2) If it's on a desk, and you're typing on the laptop keyboard itself, no problem. Just center yourself on the f and j keys.

        3) If it's on a desk and you have a keyboard plugged in (probably 90% of the time), you're set.

        Anyways, if you don't have a numpad, it's likely the other keys are also scrunched up or you have to acces

      • by deroby ( 568773 )

        To be entirely honest, I feared my latest 'upgrade' for the very same reason. I have a bit of say in what I want in a laptop, but in the end internal-IT decides what machines are bought. In our case it was a crate of Dell E6520's which come with an embedded numeric keypad.
        Took me about a week to get used to and actually enjoy the fact it has this keypad whenever I have to do things like home-banking, excel-inputting, etc... The fact my hands are now slightly off-centre to the left of the body of the laptop

    • Slightly offtopic, but I like my keyboard centered. I don't get it how someone can use a laptop keyboard with numeric keypad.

      I second that. I'm currently typing on an uncentered HP laptop keyboard, with actually a decent numeric keypad, but I don't like it.

      When I first saw my HP laptop coming out of the box, I loved it because it had a huge screen, and it had a full-size keyboard, but that doesn't make up for the fact the keyboard is not centered and that the track-pad is also uncentered.

      And this problem is only compounded by the fact that HP wants to make their full-sized keyboards laptops still look cool despite their lack of s

  • Buy a 17" laptop (Score:4, Informative)

    by Barbara, not Barbie ( 721478 ) <barbara...hudson@@@gmail...com> on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:18PM (#40052119) Journal
    They have numpads, and bigger screens.

    So you'll have to lug an extra pound or so. Big deal.

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:23PM (#40052161)

    My old Asus M50 had a "full" keypad - the only difference is that the +-*/. keys are arranged slightly differently than is standard. My new G55 is likewise supposed to have one (although I have to advise against ordering one of those right now - there seems to be some sort of supply issue, as I've been waiting on mine for weeks now).

    Those are both "gaming" laptops (and both 15" models, not 17"), probably not something your boss will approve, but still, check out their "business" laptops - they might have full keypads.

    • K53TA, bought it last summer, and works perfectly, has a nice integrated numpad, almost five hours of battery power, and more processing power than you can shake a stick at with its AMD A4/A6 APU + Radeon HD6650M. The 15,7" screen offers plenty of real estate for business work and enough for most games even, looks clear and visible even in sunlight, and eats up surprisingly little power while remaining visible when dimmed back. Also looks quite professional with the dark brown housing, which is ribbed on al

  • As others are saying - have to go with a 17 inch device. I'm using a Sony Vaio (yeah I know - evil - but the price was right) and it is fairly solid. You will have to carry around an extra pound or two, but the trade off is good.

    • One thing to watch out for with 17 inchers is: some of them don't have menu keys (that key to the left of the Right Ctrl key). I like having that key because it aids in using the keyboard, and using only the keyboard. Hit it, and a list of actions pops up.

      E.g., in Nautilus: copy, cut, rename, delete, etc.

      Seems hard to understand since you'd think there'd be so much space on a 17", but the Dell Inspiron a few years back (and maybe still now) had the menu key in the 15" version, and not in the 17" version.

  • I recently bought a Fujitsu Lifebook E751. It has a numeric keypad. The keyboard looks flimsy but doesn't feel that way.
    Note: the page on fujitsu.com has a photo of some other model. There may be differences in the various sub-models.

  • Explanation (Score:5, Informative)

    by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:29PM (#40052203)

    The reason keypads aren't or real ThinkPads is that by including the extra 4 columns of keys, the whole keyboard and TrackPoint (or trackpad, if you're that sort of person) has to be shifted left. This means that you end up either sitting in middle relative to the screen with the hands positioned awkwardly, or having to look at the screen at an angle.

    I have a T520 and while I was initially upset that it has huge speaker grilles on both sides, I actually came to appreciate this decision, though admittedly it would suck if I had to punch in numbers into a spreadsheet all day. Just get a ThinkPad and this baby [thinkwiki.org]

    • Wow, mind blown, I did not know this existed. And suddenly it makes a lot of sense that ultrabays are on the right side rather than on the left.

      Ultrabay is an awesome idea, I wonder why only Lenovo uses it. Can one get a small ultrabay coffee maker as well?

      (sent from my T420s)

  • No, the universe is not out to get you, you simply can't fit a full keypad on a 15" or smaller laptop keyboard without compromising some other aspect of the keyboard, which would be more detrimental to business users.
    I don't know where you come from, but no, "business use" rarely comprises of data entry so it is not likely any major resources are being allocated for solving the "problem" you describe.
    I sort of feel you because I use the numpad a lot, but I don''t think that is the only thing missing of a la

  • by TythosEternal ( 1472429 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:32PM (#40052243)

    It wasn't something I even considered when purchasing my current laptop, but I've since fallen in love with the keyboard (including keypad) on my Latitude E5520. Great action, no extraneous buttons, and very comfortable layout & size.

    Whatever you chose, I'd recommend a close review of the layout (and trying the action, if you can get your hands on a demo) to make sure it's not too weird. Some manufacturers make some VERY interesting adjustments to fit keyboards onto their laptops. I purchased a standalone keyboard a couple of years back that was dirt-cheap and had great action, but the home-end-insert-delete block was rotated (arranged vertically) and it somehow became a major headache.

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:33PM (#40052249)

    >"Looking at the larger manufacturers, it seems that none of their business grade laptops (e.g. Lenovo's T-Series or similar quality levels) have numeric keypads"

    That's because putting a keypad on a "laptop" turns it into a huge luggable... something not even suitable for "lap" use. The trend has been toward smaller, lighter, and more portable devices.

    I understand what you want, and I love having a REAL numeric keypad. But I also just use a desktop with a full keyboard when I plan to be number crunching, or you can add an external keypad to a reasonably sized and portable laptop.

    I also love having a real mouse. Touchpads cut my productivity by at least half. Trackpoints are 100% useless. So even on a "laptop", I am going to use a real mouse; and that takes space.... not much different than an external keypad.

    • by optimism ( 2183618 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @02:55PM (#40052743)

      Trackpoints are 100% useless.

      The initial research, back in the mid-1980s, with technical users, showed that Trackpoints were radically more efficient than moving your hand off the keyboard to access a pointing device.

      Subsequent research, with mainstream consumers, showed that most people had trouble learning how to use it.

      It isn't the technology; it's the ability of most people to get over a learning curve when they have another option readily available.

      Try the Trackpoint again...try a little harder...and I bet you'll never go back to a mouse. :)

      • Oh, I have tried it many times and still hate trackpoints :) I know some people who love it, but I find them extremely frustrating.

      • by quacking duck ( 607555 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:44PM (#40054679)

        Trackpoints are 100% useless.

        The initial research, back in the mid-1980s, with technical users, showed that Trackpoints were radically more efficient than moving your hand off the keyboard to access a pointing device.

        Subsequent research, with mainstream consumers, showed that most people had trouble learning how to use it.

        I suspect that's because the mid-80s research didn't consider using a stationary area below the space bar for a pointing device, or using one of the two thumbs to move it around. How recent was the subsequent consumer research? Most non-Mac consumers probably hadn't used a mouse before Windows 3.x came out, so there wouldn't have been much bias toward any pointer technology if the latter research occurred before 1991 or so.

        Apple's PowerBook 100 was the first laptop with a palm rest, which integrated perfectly with it being the first with a trackball, too. Even into the mid-90s many PC laptops still had no palmrest, let alone a larger pointing device. And by the time trackballs became common Apple had already dropped them in favour of trackpads.

        I have used several business laptops with trackpoints, from IBM/Lenovo and HP. My current work laptop, a Thinkpad X201, doesn't even have a trackpad, and the trackpads on our X220s are so small they're useless so I end up using the trackpoints anyway.

        Anyway, all that to say I believe I've used them enough to have an informed opinion of them, and mine is that they're fine if minimizing surface space is critical, but a proper-sized trackpad beats it hands down 9 times out of 10. I do like how on Thinkpads you can simulate the scroll wheel using the trackpoint while holding the middle "mouse" button beneath the spacebar, but most PC laptops don't bother, and instead reserve a strip on the side of the trackpad. This (and two-finger scrolling) is very poorly implemented on the X220's tiny trackpad.

        On Mac laptops, the trackpads are so much larger and more functional (it can even recognize Chinese and other Asian language handwriting, which doesn't look like an out-of-box trackpad option in Windows), the trackpoint has zero advantages that I can see.

  • by MooRogue ( 223321 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:34PM (#40052259)

    Dell Precision series has a 15" laptop with a numpad. Screen resolution goes up to 1920x1080, discrete graphics card.

    I have a Dell Precision M4600 with a Nvidia graphics card, 1920x1080 screen and it has a numpad and both a trackpoint and touchpad.

    • I'd like to second the Dell Precision Mobile Workstation recommendation. In fact I just posted about it elsewhere today:

      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2861395&cid=40051999 [slashdot.org]

      It has a full numeric keyboard and I actually prefer it over a lot of the cheap full keyboards that are out on the market now.

  • New Egg has a very good advanced search feature
    Just input your screen size.
    As for quality, Asus, and Toshiba make very good laptops
    For example, toshiba Qosmio is great VFM, but screen is 1600x900, I think you want atleast full HD.
    In that case you can get Asus for arond 900$
    Again decent build quality.

  • Does anyone have a suggestion for a laptop with deep key press? Most laptops and even a lot of desktops (apple) have very little key motion.

    I know the Tandy Model 100 was pretty good, but that is a little dated technology-wise.

    • Sorry, I can't answer your question, but for anyone who's considering switching from a desktop to a laptop, and who is a touch typist, don't let the "laptop keyboards" scare you.

      I too was initially fearful that the cheap "chiclet" style keyboards wouldn't let me type as fast. But, actually, you can type even faster.

      Your fingers don't have so far to go, and you get more keypresses into a given amount of time, and also your fingers work less. If you can, also buy a full-sized USB chiclet keyboard. I think HP

      • I too was initially fearful that the cheap 'dishwasher safe' style keyboard on my Timex/Sinclair wouldn't let me type as fast. But actually, you can type even faster.

        Your fingers don't have so far to go, and you get more keypresses into a given amount of time, and also your fingers work less.

        I now run custom software/hardware configuration, allowing the Timex to emulate a ps2 style keyboard. Can't get USB working.

        • Hehe.

          Anyways, I've been typing a long time with "normal" keyboards, and have always like IBM-style keyboards (clackety-clack).

          To each his own, but for people who are just wading into buying a laptop, chiclet keyboards are (also) good for touch typists, and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand--if you haven't tried it already.

  • by Dot.Com.CEO ( 624226 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:45PM (#40052349)
    I have a Sony Vaio 15 inch, SE series. 1080p screen (and really amazing at that), with a chiclet keyboard with numeric keypad. i7, 6Gb RAM, 640Gb disk. It cost about 1500eur. I am really happy with it, but PLEASE try the keyboard first because some people I've talked to seem to think it's a bit "loose" for their tastes. Don't care much about Sony being "evil" or whatever. I like their laptops.
  • "Consumer Grade" (Score:5, Informative)

    by cirby ( 2599 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:50PM (#40052379)

    I work with a lot of different laptop brands - I do convention and trade show computer support, among other things - and a lot of the "business class" machines out there are pretty weak in the specs department - no better (and often worse) than a good-quality "consumer" machine. Construction and case quality is often worse for the "business" machines.

    I use a Toshiba Satellite A665 (a couple of years old). It's a 15.6" consumer-class machine, it has a full keyboard, a "real" graphics chip, and an i7 processor. I've only seen a few "business" machines actually in use in the last couple of years that come close in performance or specs. It's handled a lot of travel, been used for everything up to and including running high-res videos and animations on huge screens, and never even hiccuped. It also cost less than $900 when I got it. Machines with better specs are going for under $800 now.

    Don't lock yourself into the "business" category - it's often just a way to get a few hundred bucks more out of a category-blinded MIS purchasing department.

    • Some people care about having to carry around 8 or so pounds of laptop + power brick, some don't. You obviously are willing to trade weight for specs. I, on the other hand, am much happier now that I have a light laptop that "does the job" well enough.

      I do wish we had more specific information regarding the poster's preferences - it can make all the difference in the world with regards to recommending anything. I would guess, based on his keyboard fixation, weight doesn't matter - now, anyway.

      • by cirby ( 2599 )

        "You obviously are willing to trade weight for specs"

        I forgot to mention that my 15" machine is also very light for that size - less than seven pounds.

        It certainly weighs less than most of the "business" laptops in the 16" range.

        Which full-sized laptop with numeric keypad do you have?

    • (Original submitter here)
      When I'm talking about "business" or "consumer" grade, I'm talking about the difference between, say, a Lenovo ThinkPad T Series (I consider this a business laptop) as it's got a metal chassis, no flashy chrome and it's not loaded from the factory with buckets of crapware, versus say a cheap Dell that's got shiny plastic all over it, the entire thing creaks and flexes as you pick it up or open the lid and it's loaded up to the hilt with more crap software than anyone really needs...

  • I use this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823109189 [newegg.com] The keyboard and keypad are seen as separate bluetooth devices and can work independently of each other. I'd recommend it.
  • For example, this [sagernotebook.com]1080p 15.6" model. I had never heard of them, but a friend ordered one recently and, wow, I was really impressed with the build quality. They keyboard itself is excellent and has a feel similar to mechanical switches. To top it off, the prices are really competitive. They're pitched as "gaming notebooks," but don't let that stop you. I'd use these for business in a heartbeat and, who knows, you might get some gaming in on the side.
  • ...and, bonus, not one, but two floppy drives!

    http://oldcomputers.net/ibm5155.html [oldcomputers.net]

  • Or rather, the competition has advanced while Lenovo rests.

    I have a T520 and my wife has a Macbook Pro. The Macbook is a far better piece of hardware. Even if you only want to run Windows, I'd consider buying an Apple laptop and reformatting it with Windows.

    The one thing I like about the Thinkpad (and the reason I picked it) is the 1080p matte screen. Everything else is mediocre at best. They are pretty cheap though, so maybe it's a case of getting what you pay for.

  • Not that I really recommend it, but I occasionally use one of these:

    Product Name: HP EliteBook 8560p

    It has a normal sized numberpad. However it has ridiculously undersized arrow keys.. like 1/8th the size of a normal key.. very difficult to even use them.

    Another annoying thing is they have the audio jacks on the right side near the front of the laptop, so if you're using an external mouse, headphone jack/cord bleeds into the area the mouse would be used.

    It does have a fullsized keyboard, nice screen, plenty

  • It's a lot harder to find 15" laptops WITHOUT a number pad. And the touchpad is always off center. It's annoying. I don't need a numpad, and would like to not have to be stuck with one.

  • Got this one myself last December, and I use the numeric keypad on it quite a bit - it's comfortable and easy to use.

    I'm really happy with it.

  • What I've found is that having the keypad on the right shoves the main keyboard off-center when I'm working on the laptop. If I have the screen centered, the keyboard's off-center to my left and not comfortable. If I center the keyboard, the laptop's shoved off to the right and doesn't feel comfortable when sitting at it. For maximum comfort I want the main keyboard centered under the screen, and that means leaving off the separate keypad.

    I also don't use the keypad much for business use. It's mostly the ma

  • by ffoiii ( 226358 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @03:34PM (#40052909) Homepage
    I just bought an Alienware laptop from dell and the primary reason I bought the M17 vs the M14 was the presence of a 10 key keypad on the keyboard.
  • Ipad (Score:3, Funny)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @03:39PM (#40052925)

    plus whatever bluetooth keyboard you want.

  • Or equivalent. It's low cost, and probably an oudated model, but the design has been plenty solid over the last 18 months.

  • There was a nice, slide-out keypad option for IBM Ultrabay laptops. I'm not sure if you can get it for the newer versions of Ultrabay, but one could maybe modify an old one to work with the new Ultrabay standard.

    Picture here:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v65/dr_st/A31p-X32/IMG_0269-1.jpg [photobucket.com]

  • I feel ya brother. I use a XPS model P09E at work with a 17" screen and it has a full size numpad, which was one of the reasons I got this laptop.

    The only downside is it is missing the "proper" arrangement of the Ins/Home/PgUp/Del... etc. the 6 navigation keys. I use these a whole lot and the fact that most laptop keyboards have them spread all over the place drives me nuts.

    Good luck.

  • I'm using a Toshiba Satellite L355-S7834 laptop [toshibadirect.com] with a 17-inch screen, full size 104 key US keyboard with separate 10-key numeric keypad that does not need function keys to use. Just press the regular NUM-LOCK button and type all the numbers you want with one hand or even one finger.
  • A little spongy, but very good finger feel. You might prefer the NEC version, as the keycaps are more rounded. They've both made by Kyocera.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"