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Keyboards and screens

Size and weight are nice but the keyboard and display is where we reach out and touch these little wonders. In my case, it was where the P7010 and I parted company. Here is a look at each of the keyboards.

Figure 4 shows my current Dell's keyboard, which I came to appreciate more and more while looking at its prospective replacements. The key to its expansive layout is that it doesn't cram everything into a strict rectangular area. The layout moves the arrow key cluster down and adds a row for some of the function keys at the top. The result is very comfortable to type on and requires virtually no adjustment from using my desktop keyboard.

Inspiron 4100 keyboard

Figure 4: Inspiron 4100 keyboard
(click image to enlarge)

I liked the iBook keyboard (sorry for not being able to get the ruler in there since this shot came from Apple's quicktime VR iBook tour) shown in Figure 5. At least for my taste, Apple made the correct tradeoffs in stealing space from the seldom-used top row of function keys and lower-right arrow-key cluster. This leaves space for two equally-sized shift keys and same-sized other keys in that row - which includes the oft-used period, comma and slash punctuation keys.

iBook keyboard

Figure 5: iBook keyboard

The S2020's keyboard (Figure 6) definitely required adjustment, since Fujitsu's approach to keyboard shrinkage is to shrink keys in the shift-key row. To my taste, this is not a good approach, since you end up with a small right-hand shift key and tiny period and backslash keys. The fact that the comma key stays (relatively) full-sized doesn't help much, since I found my fingers constantly hitting the wrong one.

S2020 keyboard

Figure 6: S2020 keyboard
(click image to enlarge)

Figure 7 shows that Fujitsu took the same approach for the P7010, but shrank everything just a bit more, to fit the available space in the even-smaller footprint.

P7010 keyboard

Figure 7: P7010 keyboard
(click image to enlarge)

I don't have the fattest fingers in the world, but apparently, they're too big for me to touch-type comfortably on the P7010 - at least not without a longer adjustment period. And I might have been willing to do that, except that the P7010 had one more challenge for me - its screen.

I tried to take some comparative pictures of the S2020 and P7010 screens, but I had neither the time nor patience to figure out correct exposure settings in order to get them to come out correctly. But while I knew that the P7010's screen would be harder to read than my Dell's, I didn't realize how small it would be until I saw it!

While the P7010's screen is as gorgeous, clear and bright as other reviewers have pointed out, its native resolution of 1280 by 768 pixels in only a 10.5 inch diagonal screen yields a dot pitch just too small for me. Actually, its screen could work if I mostly used it at an elevated desk height. But since a mobile notebook spends a good deal of time in my lap, this just wasn't going to work - especially at the top price that I'd have to spend!

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