Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

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ChrisGreaves
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Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by ChrisGreaves »

My main laptop is this ACER Travelmate P2, bought two years ago. The Left-Shift key is wonky and hinders my typing. I am a two-fingered typist, but been doing it that way for 50+ years; too old to change.

(1) Why not just map the keyboard?
On the Acer maybe I could just remap the <Fn> key to be the <Shift> key? But we have established that this is not possible. So a replacement keyboard is called for.
A new keyboard, not a secondhand keyboard. I suspect that used keyboards have a high probability of being in, or entering, the wonky state.

(2) Fix-replace existing keyboard or go stand-alone?
Stand-alone. Thin.
I took the back off the ACER laptop; the keyboard module appears to be a sealed unit; I am not sure. This reduces confidence in my ability to fix it. The keys are not the lift-off sort that were common on the desktop keyboards of thirty years ago.
I have two other laptops, both with wonky keyboards and wonky built-in mice. A new standalone keyboard could serve all three laptops. The TOSHIBA and DELL machines are used for running long jobs or as a jukebox.
A single keyboard for all three machines means that I could leave my brain hard-wired for all three laptops; the layout won't change from one machine to another.
A standalone keyboard reduces my escritoire desk area which is only 31 inches wide and 18 inches deep - the fold-down door of the cabinet. I could shunt the laptop back, towards the interior of the cabinet, but then I run into screen size problems, specifically my ability to read text that is now about six inches further away. This makes me think that a thin keyboard laid over the wonky keyboard might be the best plan. I could sandwich a piece of cardboard between the keyboards to reduce accidental pressure bleeding through to the ACER laptop keys.

(3) Wired vs. wireless?
Wired
I feel insecure when it comes to wireless devices. If I want to use the one keyboard for all three laptops, how does the hardware/software work out where I want to be? With a wired keyboard I will always know which machine I am addressing. The second and third machines might be addressed by the keyboard once a day, if that.

(4) The keyboard keys and controls
I have no need for a "gaming" keyboard or any special controls, but the new keyboard must include a <Break> key, because I have not yet mastered the business of looping when writing computer programs, especially in MSWord/VBA
Ergonomics is not critical, I am a two-fingered typist.

(5) "Mechanical" vs. what?
Mechanical.
I think that mechanical keyboards have the little clips and levers beneath the keys, and that the impulse is generated mechanically to electrical contacts beneath the keys. I suspect that membrane keys are rubber buttons.
I am not a speed-typist nor a gamer, and I suspect that a mechanical keyboard will just "feel right" to me.

(6) Price
A new keyboard, no matter the price, is cheaper than a new (fourth) laptop.
Keyboards seem to range from about $10 and up, so assume shipping of $20 plus tip, and a new keyboard makes sense.
I have just secured $16,000 credit towards refurbishing my windows, so a new keyboard might be counted as a refurbishment to my Windows.

Comments are welcomed.
Thanks, Chris
Last edited by ChrisGreaves on 27 May 2022, 08:34, edited 2 times in total.
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HansV
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by HansV »

A wireless keyboard requires a USB dongle in the receiving laptop, so you could plug the dongle into the laptop you want to control, just like you would plug a wired keyboard into that laptop.

Make sure that you buy a full-size keyboard with a numeric keypad and with a separate, conveniently laid-out set of arrow keys. And a break key, indeed.
Indicator lights for NumLock etc. are a plus - I currently use a keyboard that does have a CapsLock indicator, but not a NumLock indicator. I find it very irritating not to be able to see whether NumLock is on or off, especially since it is a compact keyboard, so it's easy to hit NumLock by accident.
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

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ChrisGreaves wrote:
19 May 2022, 11:04
I could shunt the laptop back, towards the interior of the cabinet, but then I run into screen size problems, specifically my ability to read text that is now about six inches further away.
I have an old laptop stand, that fits a laptop that went to meet it's maker more than 10 years ago. I put this on a box to raise it up a bit. This holds my laptop above the keyboard, where the screen is at a great height for reading. I then slip the separate keyboard partly under the laptop.
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by BobH »

My thoughts, worth a mere ha'penny!

Using either a wired keyboard or a wireless you will use one of the ports on you laptop unless your laptop is unlike any I've seen and has a separate port for a keyboard. Mine doesn't; so there's a USB port permanently engaged. IIRC, you are a bit rodent phobic. Does that mean you never use a mouse? If so, no worries (for the Aussies). If you do want a mouse, you again have the choice of wireless or tailed. I have one of those upright ergonomic mice with a tail. Another USB port gone.

One other thing I'd urge you to consider is a separate, larger monitor. It does wonders for my eyesight and will no doubt do the same for yours. :innocent:

That all comes at the cost of desktop real estate which can be mitigated by removed the laptop itself to some other location.

Min is an older HP laptop, Acer 22" monitor, J-Tech Digital ergonomic mouse, and Microsoft 600 keyboard. This keyboard has lights for both caps lock and numlock.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

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HansV wrote:
19 May 2022, 11:18
A wireless keyboard requires a USB dongle in the receiving laptop, so you could plug the dongle into the laptop you want to control, just like you would plug a wired keyboard into that laptop.
Thanks Hans. So that's how a computer knows that the keyboard is "talking to it"; or alternatively "how the channel is established between the keyboard and the laptop". I had scary visions of walking around the house keying away and different laptops springing into life as I walked past them.
Make sure that you buy a full-size keyboard with a numeric keypad and with a separate, conveniently laid-out set of arrow keys. And a break key, indeed. Indicator lights for NumLock etc. are a plus - I currently use a keyboard that does have a CapsLock indicator, but not a NumLock indicator. I find it very irritating not to be able to see whether NumLock is on or off, especially since it is a compact keyboard, so it's easy to hit NumLock by accident.
Break key absolutely (until I master "looping" :grin: ); the four arrow keys I like in a little cluster, but for me it doesn't need to be separate. I suspect that I could do without a numeric area altogether - I rarely do numeric input, and am not a speed-blessed data-entry clerk (such as I haver watched in amazement). But a CapsLock light is essential, especially nowadays when passwords generally require a mixture of case-sensitive characters.
(aside: I am currently reduced to opening Notepad, keying in the password, then copy/pasting it into the password box because I can not be sure of the left-shift key shifting into upper-case)
IMG_20220520_062230393 (Copy).jpg
The yellow block I can do without; the purple block I use a lot; the red circle is the miscreant.

Duly noted, with thanks.
Chris
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by HansV »

Don't you use the numeric keypad to enter special characters (e.g. Alt+Num 0160 for a non-breaking space)?
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by ChrisGreaves »

StuartR wrote:
19 May 2022, 14:04
I have an old laptop stand, that fits a laptop that went to meet it's maker more than 10 years ago. I put this on a box to raise it up a bit. This holds my laptop above the keyboard, where the screen is at a great height for reading. I then slip the separate keyboard partly under the laptop.
Thank you Stuart. I suppose that the special laptop stand is not essential, as long as the cardboard box is sufficiently rigid to allow a flow of air under the laptop. A thin sheet of plywood (1/8 inch) atop a sturdy cardboard carton should suffice, right?
Chris
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

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BobH wrote:
19 May 2022, 17:24
My thoughts, worth a mere ha'penny!
Bob, I am glad to see that you are mastering English :evilgrin:
Using either a wired keyboard or a wireless you will use one of the ports on you laptop unless your laptop is unlike any I've seen and has a separate port for a keyboard. Mine doesn't; so there's a USB port permanently engaged.
This Acer Travelmate P2 has three USB sockets, which are not used during the day. About once a day I plug in the smartphones and read in photos and MP3 tracks. At 6pm I plug in a nightly backup USB drive, Sundays two drives (Grandfathering). A wired keyboard means that I will be transforming my laptop from a 3- to a 2-socket machine, but I can't recall having three sockets in use so far. Besides which my "heavy" use on Sunday nights takes about ten minutes, which time I use for bringing gardening tools into the shed etc. so I am not physically present at the computer during that time.

If ever I need all three USB sockets, I will have to revert temporarily to a keyboard whose Left Shift key doesn't work.
IIRC, you are a bit rodent phobic. Does that mean you never use a mouse?
Not so much -phobic, but alert to the time wasted switching between keyboard and mouse. I noted this back in the classroom in the 90s - students who spent so much time mousing to select an insertion point, then groping back to the keyboard to type in one or two characters, then back to the mouse. I find it much faster to continue using the keyboard shortcuts, and in many cases (Ctrl+A to Select All) much more accurate (than click-and-drag) which saves much time in making corrections; (assuming that the selection error is noticed)
One other thing I'd urge you to consider is a separate, larger monitor. It does wonders for my eyesight and will no doubt do the same for yours. :innocent:
Agreed, and noted in passing "but then I run into screen size problems" in item (2) in the leading post. A monitor that fits into my writing desk would mean that the laptop could be folded up and dropped alongside the desk, or pushed to one side. As you have noted "That all comes at the cost of desktop real estate which can be mitigated by moving the laptop itself to some other location."
Are the icebergs in yet?
Apparently not, as I can not yet overtake traffic on my bicycle on the way to Swyers; when the icebergs are in Highway 230 becomes a funereal procession as excited tourists who have driven 3 1/2 hours from St John's exclaim "Oh Look! They have a restaurant!!"

Cheers, Chris
Last edited by ChrisGreaves on 20 May 2022, 10:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by ChrisGreaves »

HansV wrote:
20 May 2022, 09:02
Don't you use the numeric keypad to enter special characters (e.g. Alt+Num 0160 for a non-breaking space)?
Hi Hans; no I don't. I use Ctrl+Shift+Space for hard space (if I don't already have a macro to incorporate hard-spaces within, say, street address data). I use Insert, Symbol for the degrees character. And that's about it.
Cheers, Chris
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

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BobH wrote:
19 May 2022, 17:24
One other thing I'd urge you to consider is a separate, larger monitor. It does wonders for my eyesight and will no doubt do the same for yours.
My understanding is that monitors are measured diagonally, presumably the diagonal length of the "rectangle of glass".
2022_20220520_100444.jpg
In my limited space I must consider the true physical height and width of the entire assembly, including the monitor stand if that stand is integral to the monitor (for example if the cabling runs through the stand itself).

I have a thirty-inch wide cavity in the writing desk. The vertical space is seventeen inches.
The little shelf, almost hidden by my horizontal arrow, is nice to have, but not essential.

I would greatly appreciate folks who are using external monitors, such as Bob has suggested, letting me know :-
(1) The advertised diagonal measurement - where the specifications describe it as "a seventeen-inch monitor"
(2) The required horizonal space on the desk
(3) The required vertical space on the desk


I will use the stated dimensions as guidelines so that I do not end up with a monitor that exceeds my cavity, but one that uses my space to the best advantage.

What is the point of angling for a monitor that uses a physical space of only 20"x12" when I have 30"x17" available?

FWIW my laptop screen is physically 15" by 9.5", and the diagonal measurement (illuminated by Win10) is 15.5"

Thanks, Chris
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by StuartR »

1. Diagonal 23"
2. Horizontal 21.5"
3. Vertical (Including stand) 20" (excluding stand) 13"
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by stuck »

Currently:
1. Diagonal 24"
2. Horizontal 23"
3. Vertical:
    without stand 14", but that's a bit meaningless since it requires a stand
    stand allows variable height, at lowest 17.5", at highest 22.5"

However, I'm working myself up to buying a biggerer and betterer monitor, ideally:
https://www.benq.eu/en-uk/monitor/photo ... w271c.html
but I may have to settle for:
https://www.benq.eu/en-uk/monitor/photo ... w270c.html

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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by BobH »

These are the overall dimensions of my nominal 24" Acer monitor, not the screen size.
Diagonal: 24-3/4" (63.5 cm) (See how 'International' I'm becoming?)
Width: 21-3/8" (54 cm)
Height above desktop: 16-1/4" (~41.5 cm)
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by Rebel »

Samsung S24R35x monitor
1. Diagonal 24"
2. Horizontal 21-1/4"
3. Vertical: 16-3/4" INCLUDING monitor stand - i.e. from desktop to top of monitor
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by PaulB »

Ancient Samsung SyncMaster BX2431

Maximum width: 22 1/4”
Maximum height (including stand): 16 1/4”
Maximum depth (front to back, including stand): 7 3/4”

The latter is important if you have a need to close your éscritoire.

The diagonal measurement of the screen is irrelevant so long as the height and width constraints are respected.
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by ChrisGreaves »

Thank you all for your response. I have decided to buy TWO keyboards so that I will have a spare one!

We have keyboards that has Capslock indicator but does not have the Break key like MX Keys and vice versa. But we have K120 and K360 that has both features only for K360 the Break key is the Function End key. To see more of their features and specs please refer to these links:
https://www.logitech.com/en-us/products ... 02478.html
https://www.logitech.com/en-us/products ... 04088.html


I will buy one of each on the grounds that
(1) A new keyboard, no matter the price, is cheaper than a new (fourth) laptop.
(2) Keyboards seem to range from about $10 and up, so assume shipping of $20 plus tip, and a new keyboard makes sense.
(3) I have just secured $16,000 credit towards refurbishing my windows, so a new keyboard might be counted as a refurbishment to my Windows.

I had considered buying three keyboards of the same type if I could find a suitable type with a touchpad, but I could not.
It was hard enough locating keyboards with (a) a Break key and (b) a caps lock light.
I recall ten years ago in Toronto my struggle to find a laptop with a Break key. In part I figure that this might be my last chance to get keyboards with Break keys.

With two slightly different keyboards I can see which of the two feels better, and assign the second keyboard to my jukebox.

Thanks again
Chris
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by BobH »

The Microsoft 600 keyboard has lighted CAPSLOK and NUMLOK and Pause/Break. It is currently offered by Amazon for $14.95. It does NOT have a touchpad. It is NOT wireless.

I have found these keyboards to be dang nigh indestructible.
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by ChrisGreaves »

BobH wrote:
29 May 2022, 17:44
...It is currently offered by Amazon for $14.95. ...
thanks for this, Bob, but I am a bit Amazon-averse after a recent experience with trying to get a refund for a product which did not arrive; Amazon backed out "Not our fault, contact the supplier directly", and I suspect that some Amazon sellers never ship; they just milk to percentage of orders where the customer is too lazy to protest that the item did not arrive. And after all, logically, how does one going about proving that something did not arrive?

with the now routine long times for delivery, plus a grace period (maybe our St John's - Bonavista courier has a problem), the delay between ordering and then ordering a different item and waiting for that can really mess up a schedule!

(later) I spoke too soon!
After posting this I went to order the two Logitech keyboards and both are now sold out.
Back to square one. :sad:
Cheers, Chris
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

Post by BobH »

I've never had that problem, Chris. I have had packages delivered to the wrong address. Here Amazon deliverers take photos and send them to HQ. If there is no pic, the package didn't get delivered. When I get an email announcing delivery, I get the pic. It might be different in CA; IDK.
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Re: Replacing a Laptop Keyboard

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There are horror stories of fraudulent delivery drivers placing the package on the recipient's porch, taking a picture, and then picking up the package again and driving off... :flee:
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