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Way back in the old days of netbooks I bought an Asus Eee PC 701. And by way back, I mean in October of 2007 when they weren’t called netbooks, which just might happen again in the near future. The little device was very usable for […]

asus-eee-pc-keyboardWay back in the old days of netbooks I bought an Asus Eee PC 701. And by way back, I mean in October of 2007 when they weren’t called netbooks, which just might happen again in the near future. The little device was very usable for me; so much so, that it was the sole device I used to report from the slow-paced and relaxing hellaciously maddening Consumer Electronics Show last year. I distinctly remember pounding out a post while leaning next to a pillar at the vast Microsoft and Intel booths, which is something I simply couldn’t do easily with other devices I owned at the time.

The one bit that really hit my productivity wasn’t the low-resolution screen, although that didn’t help matters. What killed it for me was the small Right Shift key that was on the far end of the keyboard row. Time and time again, I’d hit the Up Arrow key during my touch-typing which made a stressful situation even worse. Think about it: you’re trying to type as fast as you can and all of a sudden, your cursor jumps to the line above and you’ve typed ten characters in the middle of another sentence before you even realize it. Folks that don’t truly touch-type won’t get too bothered by this, but I for one am thrilled to hear that Asus might be revamping their Eee PC keyboard layout. This info isn’t based on any news out of Asus, but instead comes from a manual for their 1002HA/S101H models that’s featured on Liliputing.

Netbooks are already compromising a number of other key aspects, so why compromise on the correct placement of a heavily used key? I’ve steered away from netbooks that don’t use a mainly traditional keyboard layout, which is one of the reasons that I purchased an MSI Wind. The Lenovo S10 I’m looking offers the same feature challenge as the Asus models, so as a content producer, my productivity is getting hammered when using it.

Instead of waiting for Asus to “shift” their keyboard layout, or if you have a netbook with the same Right-Shift key challenge, there is a way mitigate it. I got so frustrated with my Eee PC keyboard that I physically pulled the two keys and swapped them. Using a free utility for Windows, I then re-mapped the key functions. You can’t easily change the size of the keys, but you can change what they do. Maybe I’m just a keyboard snob… is this shift key that much of a big deal to you too or am I pressing the wrong buttons?

  1. I touchtype and I never, ever use the right modifiers (ctrl, alt, or shift) – my left hand (pinky or ring finger) handles all those duties. I’ve just always typed that way and I never had a problem with netbook keyboards because of that.

    I think it’s similar though, that pg up, pg down, delete, home and end are constantly in different spots on different keyboards. Either way, after about a week, I get used to using it. It’s similar to the iPhone keyboard – very slow at first, but you learn to adapt with it. Keyboards would not be my primary criteria for choosing a netbook.

    I’m surprised you haven’t covered other similar difficulties on netbooks, such as trackbad buttons – Asus’ are extremely stiff and hard to hit, Acer’s and HP’s are in completely non-standard positions… wouldn’t this adversely affect peoples productivity too?

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  2. Alan, you raise a good point about the various arrow buttons, home, etc… I tend not to use them much so they haven’t presented much of a challenge for me. I simply use the trackpad for nearly all navigation.

    Trackpad buttons are another issue entirely and I really haven’t been overly impressed with many of them on netbooks. I haven’t used an HP netbook, so I can’t comment on their implementation. As far as the Acer, I covered that in my “5 Things I don’t like” post: http://jkontherun.com/2008/08/11/five-things-i-d-2/

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  3. I refuse to buy a Netbook that doesn’t have a full-size right shiftkey. I can live without the navigation keys because I’m used to trackpad navigation. Acer has the full-size shiftkey, Asus doesn’t, though I prefer Asus’s Trackpad buttons. Acer’s are on the right and left side, which is pretty non-ergonomic.

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  4. Kevin: I agree entirely. This is one of my two complaints with my Redfly, the second being that the trackpad isn’t the best. Thankfully they’ve deployed the function keys to good advantage so that I don’t have to use the trackpad as much. The full size right shift key would be a major criteria in a purchase decision for me.

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  5. I absolutely agree – this eee pc is fantastic EXCEPT for the right-shift key. I have been touch typing since the year dot and I cannot get used to this layout. I am thinking of giving the PC away it is so difficult to use. I need to remap and I need to do it FAST.

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