Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II Evaluation


The Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II ($85.99) takes the ThinkPad expertise again to its Japanese minimalist roots. Impressed by the easy design of Bento lunch packing containers, distinctive black ThinkPad laptops have legions of loyalists worldwide. Most of the most ardent followers want they might incorporate components of the ThinkPad design into their workplace setups, and the TrackPoint Keyboard II lets them do it. It’s a precise reproduction of the wonderful ThinkPad typing expertise, together with the little crimson TrackPoint, within the type of a wi-fi keyboard that works with any Home windows or Android machine.

Scalloped Keys, Iconic TrackPoint

Lenovo, the present keeper of the ThinkPad model, has lengthy sought to capitalize on the model’s cachet, providing many ThinkPad-branded docks, wi-fi audio system, and different equipment. So it’s solely pure that the corporate would wish to supply top-of-the-line components of the ThinkPad expertise—the keyboard—as a standalone accent.

ThinkPad keyboard

Why is the ThinkPad typing expertise so good? It’s a mix of a number of components, together with supremely secure key switches, beneficiant key journey distance, and a sturdy keyboard deck that minimizes flex. Whereas another laptops handle to incorporate all of these items, the ThinkPad’s secret weapons are its distinctive, scalloped keys that contour to your fingertips, in addition to the long-lasting crimson pointing machine mounted within the middle of the keyboard that eliminates the necessity for a touchpad or exterior mouse.

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It doesn’t matter what period or kind of ThinkPad you purchase, its keyboard will look similar to some other, whether or not it’s one of many first fashions to roll off IBM’s meeting line in Yamato, Japan, in 1992, or the cutting-edge ThinkPad P1 cellular workstation. There have been a number of modifications all through the years, corresponding to spacing the keys farther aside, however Lenovo has properly abstained from full reinvention.

ThinkPad keyboard

This uniformity additionally extends to the TrackPoint Keyboard II. It’s as if somebody took a scalpel to a ThinkPad laptop computer, sliced out the keyboard, and boxed it up on the market. The ensuing product is kind of compact for an exterior keyboard, measuring 0.54 by 12 by 6.5 inches (HWD). The acquainted arrow keys of their inverted-T format are there. So are the devoted Dwelling, Finish, Insert, Web page Up, and Web page Down keys. The TrackPoint can be current, after all, full with three buttons beneath the house bar for left clicks, proper clicks, and scrolling.

Even the perform keys are equivalent to how they appear on most ThinkPad laptops. They embody controls for display screen brightness and audio (quantity, mute, and microphone mute). There are additionally buttons for the Home windows Challenge menu (for extending or duplicating your display screen to a different monitor), the Notifications middle, Home windows Settings, Bluetooth settings, and the onscreen keyboard. Lastly, there’s a customizable bonus key (F12) that may management practically any perform you want.

The perform keys carry out all of those actions by default, however it’s also possible to activate the common F1 to F12 features by urgent the Fn key first. As ThinkPad customized dictates, the Fn secret is positioned within the decrease left nook of the keyboard, to the left of the Ctrl key. Individuals who would reasonably have the Ctrl key be the left-most one within the backside row can swap the features of the Ctrl and Fn keys on some Lenovo laptops, however that isn’t potential on this keyboard.

ThinkPad keyboard arrow keys

One factor that it is potential to tweak is the keyboard’s angle, by extending the 2 ft positioned on the underside of the machine on the left and proper corners. Throughout my testing, I discovered it extra comfy (and extra laptop-like) to depart the ft folded, for a shallower angle.

Straightforward Setup and Connections

When you’re connecting the TrackPoint Keyboard to a PC working Home windows 10 model 1803 or later, setup is a cinch utilizing Microsoft Swift Pair, Home windows’ Bluetooth-specific pairing perform. Activate the keyboard utilizing the slider change on the correct edge, and your Bluetooth-enabled PC ought to acknowledge it instantly and ask if you wish to join. You then use the keyboard to enter the passcode displayed in your display screen, and also you’re accomplished.

Whereas Swift Pair is clearly essentially the most easy connection possibility, not all PCs assist it. You can too set up a Bluetooth connection the old style method. First, you slide the wireless-mode change on the keyboard’s rear edge to Bluetooth mode and maintain it there for one second to enter pairing mode. Then, discover the keyboard within the listing of gadgets in your PC’s Bluetooth settings, and comply with the prompts to attach.

ThinkPad keyboard controls

When you slide the wireless-mode change within the different course, you possibly can join utilizing the included 2.4GHz wi-fi receiver. Take away the receiver from its holder on the rear fringe of the keyboard and insert it into an accessible USB Kind-A port in your PC. When you’d like to make use of the keyboard with two separate gadgets, you should use each 2.4GHz and Bluetooth, switching the lively connection between the 2 by shifting the wireless-mode slider.

The TrackPoint keyboard can hook up with Bluetooth-enabled Android gadgets, as nicely. When you’ve established the Bluetooth connection, you possibly can slide the operating-system selector (additionally positioned on the rear edge) to Android mode, which is able to rework a number of the Perform keys into controls for the Android OS. They embody Again (F9), Dwelling (F10), Search (F11), and the App Switcher (F12). Android variations 8 or newer are supported.

Whilst you would possibly be capable of join the TrackPoint keyboard to a Mac or Linux PC by way of Bluetooth, the keyboard affords no official assist for macOS or Linux. Mac customers will wish to take into account the Apple Magic Keyboard as a substitute.

ThinkPad keyboard underside

Customizing the ThinkPad TrackPoint

The keyboard and its built-in TrackPoint labored as quickly as I related it to a Samsung laptop computer utilizing Swift Pair, and I didn’t really feel the necessity to make any settings changes. Whereas there’s a downloadable driver for the keyboard, the customizations it affords are fairly minimal, in line with the general ThinkPad ethos.

As soon as the motive force is put in, you possibly can entry the settings in Home windows Keyboard Properties, the place you’ll discover a new Exterior TrackPoint Keyboard tab. There are solely three settings on this tab. You may change the pointer pace and modify the perform of the F12 key. (By default, F12 is ready to open Lenovo’s web site.) You can too activate ThinkPad Most popular Scrolling mode, which helps you to maintain down the center TrackPoint button after which transfer the TrackPoint to scroll left, proper, up, and down. If the Most popular Scrolling mode is turned off, the center button features as it could on some other mouse.

ThinkPad keyboard settings

Lenovo says the TrackPoint keyboard’s battery will final for as much as a yr of typical use earlier than it must be recharged utilizing the included USB-C-to-USB-A cable. This cable is for recharging solely; all information connections are wi-fi. The corporate additionally features a one-year guarantee for the keyboard.

The ThinkPad Typing Expertise, Indifferent

When you get every part arrange, the TrackPoint keyboard performs precisely as you’d anticipate. I discovered no variations between typing and utilizing the TrackPoint for cursor actions on the exterior keyboard and doing the identical on my three-year-old Lenovo ThinkPad T470, whose keyboard has among the many most comfy laptop computer keys I’ve ever touched. Aside from a backlight, and maybe some devoted keys to begin and cease music playback, the TrackPoint keyboard has every part I would like in a laptop computer keyboard.

In fact, typing is subjective and relative. Whereas many individuals love ThinkPad keyboards, selecting a laptop computer primarily based on the standard of its keyboard and selecting a standalone keyboard to your home-office setup are two solely completely different selections.

As an exterior keyboard, the TrackPoint keyboard must be in contrast not solely with different laptop computer keyboards, but additionally with the broader standalone keyboard market. For round $100, you can additionally get a a lot bigger keyboard with mechanical switches that gives far better journey distance and stability. Or you can get an ergonomic keyboard, which, along with providing probably better consolation, may also assist cut back the possibility of repetitive stress accidents. Our high picks for wi-fi keyboards embody the Logitech Ergo K860, whereas if you happen to’re keen to department out to wired fashions, the Das Keyboard 4Q might go well with you higher.

ThinkPad keyboard power switch

Primarily, by selecting the TrackPoint Keyboard, you’re giving up options like wrist rests and ergonomic designs in alternate for the ThinkPad expertise you already know out of your laptop computer, together with the distinctive TrackPoint pointer. Except you’ve received the funds and the house in your desk for a number of keyboards, the TrackPoint keyboard will not be precisely a no brainer buy to function your on a regular basis, all-day typer, even for die-hard ThinkPad followers. It is most likely a greater match as an occasional-use board you possibly can simply stash away when not in use, or as a take-along keyboard for conditions the place you want a standalone keyboard on the highway. It might maintain some facet enchantment as a couch-side keyboard for residence theater PC (HTPC) use, if you happen to’re one of many fewer and fewer HTPC die-hards on the market, seeing because it integrates the keyboard and pointer into one machine that you could stability in your lap.

When you do not fall into one among these niches, it’s finest to consider the TrackPoint keyboard in the identical gentle as different ThinkPad equipment from Lenovo. When you love ThinkPads and wish to convey as a lot of their expertise to different gadgets as potential, then you definately’ll most likely love this keyboard. In the meantime, if you happen to’re simply out there for a brand new keyboard, it’s finest to broaden your horizons if you wish to get essentially the most to your cash.

Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II

Professionals

  • Easy Home windows Swift Pair connections

  • Connects by way of Bluetooth or 2.4GHz wi-fi dongle

  • Works with Android gadgets

The Backside Line

Lenovo’s pricey-but-comfy ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II affords the wonderful ThinkPad typing expertise, together with the little crimson TrackPoint, within the type of a wi-fi keyboard that works with any Home windows or Android machine.

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