reaaaal comfortable laptop keyboard
April 2, 2010 3:31 PM   Subscribe

recommend me a light laptop with a really nice, really comfortable to use keyboard!

help me, metafilter! so i use an adorable msi netbook i picked up in taiwan for working on various writing projects, but because the keyboard is so small i really can't write for too long without my fingers cramping up. i thought this wouldn't be too much of an issue since i have abnormally small hands (friends who try out my netbook are always like wow, someone finally made a keyboard for your teensy hands!) but i'm used to typing on a fullsized keyboard at work all day.

i'm looking for a light, portable, travel-happy no-frills laptop with an extremely comfortable keyboard. the most important factors are 1) it doesn't weigh too much, because i take it with me to write at cafes, on the beach, on the go, and when i'm in libraries doing research, and 2) a reaaaal comfy keyboard. think, you can type for 6 hours at a time without getting cramped up. i use an imac/cintiq combo for all my other computing needs, so i really just need something small and on the go (and also that i can easily disconnect from the interwebs) so i don't need something exploding with power, really just enough to run a word processor and maybe look stuff up on the interwebs from time to time. prefer a solid state drive, but that's not necessary. ideally i can go to stores to try out the keyboards too, as i got my netbook sight unseen and didn't anticipate the keyboard issue.
posted by raw sugar to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: oh also! 2 more things-
3) battery power! i need long battery power since i'm often writing in places i can't find a power outlet.
4) satisfying feel to the keys, none of those wussy thin keyboards where you feel like it's so fragile you might punch through the computer itself while typing. i used to play piano so i like having a "satisfying" feel to the keys.
posted by raw sugar at 3:36 PM on April 2, 2010

Well they are not as cheep as some of their competitors. But the only full laptop I will buy is a ThinkPad. My T61 is very thin and light and has the same old time tested thinkpad keyboard IBM engineers dreamed up many moons ago. If all you need is something to type on, then you can buy a used thinkpad from IBM's certified used equipment program.

on preview:

3) I can get around three hours on my six cell battery.
4) The keys have a nice tactile response, especially on the T61 and before models, and I have actually punched my laptop on many occasions out of frustration with the crappy software the university makes me use and it takes the abuse in stride. Quite a sturdy machine.
posted by token-ring at 3:41 PM on April 2, 2010

Since you're already a Mac user, why not a Macbook Air?
posted by Robot Johnny at 3:43 PM on April 2, 2010

Thinkpad X-series laptops are small (not quite netbook small, but close), light, and, like all Thinkpads, have excellent, high-quality keyboards. I've been buying slightly older models off-lease off eBay for a few hundred dollars each, but even new the prices are reasonable.
posted by enn at 3:44 PM on April 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you don't need much computing power and are interested in saving a few bucks, I would recommend finding a used Fujitsu B3020D. I picked up one secondhand a couple of years ago for $200 and found it very lightweight, portable and comfortable. It's more than powerful enough for typical word processing and Web surfing — I've even used mine for moderate programming tasks. Battery life for me has been about 4.5 hours, but this is with the stock battery that's several years old.

I also agree with others about the Thinkpads being good choices.
posted by tomwheeler at 3:58 PM on April 2, 2010

Lenovo (ie once was ibm) laptops have the best keyboards, hands down in my opinion. If you want another netbook, there's the lenovo s60 etc. An old x61 is a wonderful, small laptop - but you won't get the crazy battery life you would from a netbook.
posted by smoke at 4:38 PM on April 2, 2010

I have the Toshiba NB305-410. It is 2.6 pounds, has 6-8 hours (!) of battery life (Toshiba claims 11 hours, but still 6-8 is pretty good), and I like the keyboard, although I don't have much of a basis for comparison.

If the keyboard is that important to you, you should probably go to an actual store and try out a bunch of laptops before you buy one.
posted by number9dream at 5:38 PM on April 2, 2010

Fourth-ing ThinkPad X series - I'm on an X61s right now. Lightweight (even with the 9 cell battery), best keyboard in the biz, a wireless switch on the front to turn connectivity off and on. I get 5 hours out of a 9 cell battery on Win7, more if I really tweak the power settings.
posted by clerestory at 6:24 PM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm on an Acer AS 1410 right now. I originally bought it for light use and travel, but after my desktop fried in (when I was between jobs), it's been my main home computer. I think the laptop is quite comfortable. I can't compare it to the Thinkpads, which are indeed legendary, but I'm quite happy with it. Couldn't give you a battery life estimate as I'm almost never away from power with it. I'm a researcher-style Internet user, and it definitely struggles when I get the tab count way up - especially when Flash is involved - but that's not really what it's meant for, anyway. $409 on Newegg right now.
posted by McBearclaw at 7:37 PM on April 2, 2010

Look for a laptop with a chiclet keyboard. Mac laptops have this style of keyboard, but so do many PC laptops. For me, a chiclet keyboard makes all the difference in the world!
posted by 2oh1 at 9:03 PM on April 2, 2010

Nth-ing Lenovo Thinkpad X series. I have an x61t, and the keyboard is my favorite amonst all other desktop and laptops I've used. Battery-life is 4-5 hrs on a 9cell. Perhaps look at the x100e as well?
posted by Diddly at 9:27 PM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actually, chiclet keyboards are generally thought to be inferior to other types. You do indeed want a Thinkpad :-)
posted by Susan PG at 9:39 PM on April 2, 2010

Response by poster: THE THINKPADS HAVE IT! thank you so much everyone! i wrote down suggestions and went off to have a laptop keyboard testing bonanza at a couple of local electronics stores and TOTALLY fell in love with the thinkpad x100e. still doing some research on a couple of other thinkpad models to make sure ABSOLUTELY it's what i want, but so far the thinkpad keyboards come the closest to what i'm looking for. actually, i used to use my dad's old thinkpads back when i was in school but had forgotten about how comfortable they are.. so in a way it was like coming home :)
posted by raw sugar at 10:10 PM on April 2, 2010

I have this ASUS:

.. it's an awesome netbook.. Very fast, lasts up to 8 hours easy on a charge and the keyboard is great.
posted by cowmix at 10:49 PM on April 2, 2010

The X61 has an 8-10 hour battery life with the extended battery, it might as well be a netbook, but with a real CPU that's useful for more stuff if you ever need it.

I'm always envious of my boss and his battery life, despite my 4.5 hours out of a T60p, which I thought was good until he got his new-to-him laptop.
posted by wierdo at 12:10 AM on April 3, 2010

wierdo: "The X61 has an 8-10 hour battery life with the extended battery,"

The x61 has a good battery life, but...not 8-10 hours good. I have the extended battery (9-cell?) and get 4 hours. Once I hit 5.5 hours, but that was with wifi off, screen dim, the CPU throttled down to 800MHz, and laptop-mode tuning the hard drive for power savings. (The last two didn't affect performance, but my point is that you have to make an effort.)
posted by d. z. wang at 3:14 AM on April 3, 2010

It could have been an X61s. Seriously. I used it for over an entire work day without plugging it in, although it wasn't continuous, so I'm sure it went to sleep a few times. (hence my 8-10 hour estimate, since I was using it off and on for around 12 hours that day)

I can't say how he's got it set up, but I do tend to turn screen brightness down unless I'm out in bright sunlight, and I certainly wasn't watching DVDs or playing video games, just looking stuff up on the Intarwebs.
posted by wierdo at 2:23 PM on April 3, 2010

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