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Wanted: Fresh PC circuits to pound on

To review, my requirements are fairly simple, I need

  • a computer thing that I can take to a cafe
  • where I can pound on the keys and the keys won't fly off. I need sturdiness. I rarely pop the keys off a PC keyboard, so I guess I'm looking for that feel.
  • with a editor that can import and export documents that Microsoft Word can handle

There's not enough space on most cafe tables to fit two laptops and a PC keyboard, and I'm not comfortable typing in my lap, I can't just attach a PC keyboard to a laptop.

As always when I shop for computers, it's hard to find something that works for me

I went to the Apple store today and I tried the Macbook. I really like it. The keyboard feels the most like a regular keyboard of all the laptop keyboards I've tried since my old Toshiba T1100. Yes I bought the first PC laptop ever made. I miss its keyboard. It was sturdy and strong and handled my pounding. Okay the laptop weighed almost 9lbs, but it was my newborn baby.

The Macbook has the keys separated into individual wells which gives me the feeling of separateness I find in PC keyboards. To me, lapboard keyboards seem scrunched together and flimsy, which makes me nervous. The Macbook keyboard also has an initial resistance like a PC keyboard, though of course you can't press the keys down as far. The keys made me feel more secure, so I jerked a lot less than I usually do on laptop keyboards.

Then I talked to one of the Mac repair technicians there and he told me that if I were to break off one of the keys of the Macbook, I'd have to take it in for repair. This is really bad news for me. With a regular lapbook or a PC keyboard, you can just pop the key back on. Not as good as new, but no time and money spent in the shop either.

Should I try a $1100 experiment to see if the Macbook can withstand my keyboard pounding without breaking, should I buy another laptop, or should I buy something else?

Another option I've thought about is to buy a Palm/Pocket PC or ilk and use it with a Bluetooth keyboard. This solves both my key pounding and space issues. But I may go insane trying to edit a document on such a small screen. Another problem is I'm working on a book and the Palm may run out of memory trying to edit it.

I'd also prefer not spend more than about $1300, but if someone showed me a laptop with a wonderfully sturdy keyboard, I'd prolly cough up the money for it.

C suggests I try used laptops, but I'm highly distrustful of the idea. I'll already abuse this laptop, so why would want a used one that someone has probably already abused. I need fresh PC circuits to pound on.

What do you think? I'm sure many of you have opinions on this and I'd welcome any suggestions.



( 11 notes — Leave a note )
May. 27th, 2006 10:37 pm (UTC)
Akien suggests that you might consider buying an external keyboard. He notes that replacing an external keyboard periodically is cheaper than replacing the whole laptop.
May. 30th, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC)
True, but I have space issues with an external keyboard.
May. 31st, 2006 12:28 am (UTC)
(nod) The one Akien has is a small, fold-up affair. Not nearly so big as a standard keyboard. Don't know that it would be rugged enough for you, though, and it still might be too large in combination with everything else on your small table.
May. 27th, 2006 11:18 pm (UTC)
I don't know about working on a tiny pocket PC screen, but as for memory, you can get huge expansion cards for many of them. My Treo (Palm + phone) currently has a 1Gb memory card stuck in the top... plenty of space for lots of stuff.

You might check out the tiny Sony Vaio laptops... you might have enough space for one of those + an external keyboard on a table, and the screen is quite a bit larger than a palm/pocket pc. Another option might be a Tablet PC + external keyboard, with a stand to hold the tablet up at a comfortable angle.
May. 30th, 2006 11:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Those options are worth checking out.
Jun. 1st, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC)
Here are some more ideas (you probably have to register to read it):


It has a number of links to various portable devices and keyboards.
May. 27th, 2006 11:19 pm (UTC)
Also, I don't know specific brand names, but there do exist "ruggedized" laptops for a variety of harsh environments. Something like that might have a more durable keyboard as well.
May. 28th, 2006 08:44 am (UTC)
No good ideas here, I'm afraid. I have seen a USB device that projects a keyboard onto a flat surface and detects where your fingers are touching the table... so that might be an alternative for home, but then again you probably have no problem hooking up a normal keyboard at home. At a cafe you would probably have the same space problem, unless you bring your own flat surface and place it over the keyboard of the laptop.

For that matter a USB keyboard could probably be placed over the laptop's own keyboard... you would just need to find one thin enough to not block the screen too much. But finding the laptop with the keyboard you want is probably the best option.
May. 30th, 2006 11:42 pm (UTC)
I hadn't thought of a thin keyboard. I didn't realise they made them that thin. Hrm.
May. 30th, 2006 12:44 am (UTC)
You're welcome to try our old Sony Viao. It seems pretty sturdy to me.

I just Googled "rugged laptops" and got a plethora of responses. They are mostly to protect against being dropped or spilled on, but you might be able to find one around to check out the keyboard.
May. 31st, 2006 06:11 am (UTC)
Sony is highly rated by Consumer Reports. I've gone through several HP laptops and have never encountered decent customer service with them. This last time I bought a widescreen gateway and 18 months later, it's only giving me issues because it was dropped by my wonderful husband. He says I pound a keyboard so hard that he wonders if I'm trying to push them through to my lap. I am definitely not a timid or quiet typist...grew up with keyboards that HAD to be pounded and never broke the habit. Grab a Consumer Report review ...one came out this year in the past two months I believe.
( 11 notes — Leave a note )