The Lenovo ThinkPad X100e and ThinkPad Edge 13 have a completely new keyboard design. For the first time, Lenovo is using a chiclet, or island-style keyboard. Lenovo likes to call it an isolation keyboard, since the defining characteristic is that there’s more space between each of the keys.The company has posted a detailed article about the new layout on its blog.
In order to accomplish this, the keys are flatter. That leaves you with pretty much the same amount of surface area per key that you would expect on other keyboards.
Of course, Lenovo is hardly the first company to produce laptops with isolation keyboards. Apple has been doing it for years, and island-style keyboards are all the rage on netbooks these days, with popular models from Toshiba, Asus, and MSI all featuring a similar layout. But there are a few differences between the ThinkPad isolation keyboard and most of those other keyboards.
First up, the Lenovo keys are actually concave. Sure, they look flat compared to to an old-school ThinkPad keyboard, but there’s a little curvature on each key. Lenovo also touts the solid frame of the keyboard with a stainless steel base plate.
Most isolation keyboards also have square keys, while the Lenovo keyboard features a curved design at the front of the keys. I don’ t think there’s any real practical advantage to this feature, but it does allow the ThinkPad X100e keyboard to look a bit more like other ThinkPad keyboards which could come in handy if you’re a longtime ThinkPad user who fears change.