Why the “new” Lenovo design sucks…

(Mostly a note to remind myself what to look for the next time I get a new laptop)

Lenovo reinvented the keyboard on their ThinkPads in 2012; and this is why it sucks:

  • New key placement; menu key is gone; replaced with PrtSc.
  • No multimedia keys; only way to change/stop/pause/play music is by switching to another application and interact with it. (I might even have to use the trackpad/mouse. I usually don’t.)
  • They switched to internal lighting for the keyboard and removed the monitor-mounted LED, which used to be good enough to read paper notes in a dark room. New lighting is _not_ useful for this purpose.
  • No visual indication of caps-lock being active or not (and I use this key quite often during development due to code styling)
  • Trackpad sucks; while it was possible to tap the rightmost edge (or define own zones) for right-click and keep the rest of the pad for left-click; the new pad will in some cases interpret taps as right-click over half of the pad, and is inconsistent and inaccurate. Meaning more problems when it makes a mistake.
  • Possibly not related to the keyboard: Speakers suck as a result of being moved to the underside of the laptop. My old W530 had them to the side of the keyboard, which is impossible on the W540 due to the size. Other manufacturers are sensible and place them between the keyboard and the monitor, and although they rarely sound great they are a lot better than on the W540. (Think speakers with horns filled with toiletpaper)
  • The speakers chosen actually suck regardless of location; hand placement when typing distorts the sound even more.
  • The color sensor useless as-is unless you do graphic work where color accuracy is a must. What would have been awesome was if the sensor would include a LED and act as a color detector, allowing us to sample colors from physical objects.

There are probably other issues as well, but these are the most prominent.

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