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Revive the Butterfly Keyboard?



I have huge hands, making it difficult for me to use some netbooks and other small devices. I can use a netbook for a few hours, but I can type much more accuratly and quickly on a full sized keyboard. I’m certainly not the only one that wishes there were some magical way to have a full-sized keyboard on a netbook.

ThinkPads have some of the best keyboards in the industry . Back in 1995, the ThinkPad 701 came with   an innovative keyboard called the TrackWrite. The TrackWrite or thinkpad701_sc‘Butterfly Keyboard’ expanded past the palm rest area of the 10-inch ThinkPad 701 when the notebook was opened. The keyboard contracted when the display was closed.

James Kendrick blogged about the mostly-forgotten Butterfly Keyboard and suggests that someone should revive the concept. I definitely like the idea of having more keyboard real estate. There are of course some trade-offs, including added thickness and a minuscule palm rest area.

Would you like to see something like the Butterfly Keyboard on your next mobile device?



  1. Clayton

    04/27/2009 at 5:11 pm

    Thinkpads for the win! I’m using my X61’s fantastic keyboard at the moment, in fact.

  2. Joe

    04/27/2009 at 5:15 pm

    I think the perfect form factor for me for a netbook tablet is as follows (my XT is the workhorse for the foreseeable future, but I have a tc1100 as the secondary more portable one. The form factor I describe would be to replace the tc1100.)

    A 9″ slate tablet in the same form factor as the tc1100 would be preferred. If the detachable keyboard was a ‘butterfly’ type like this, that’d be even better, because my Mini 9’s keyboard is atrocious. It’d of course have to have an active digitizer as well. (I realize Wacom doesn’t make 9″ active digitizers but still).

    As for specs, I’d want the lower cost 1.6GHz Atom, (aka running on the GMA950), 2GB RAM, and a 16-32GB SSD. Something higher resolution than 1024×600 would be preferred as well. I’d definitely pay $500-600 or so for that.

  3. Joe

    04/27/2009 at 5:15 pm

    Oh, and a fingerprint reader, because those are a huge help on slates.

  4. lark

    04/27/2009 at 6:17 pm

    Yes. I loved this ThinkPad! The keyboard worked really well – just a little bouncy. I still have this ThinkPad, and think the idea was great.

  5. Eric

    04/28/2009 at 8:19 am

    I love my x200 tablet keyboard even better than I loved the x41 tablet keyboard. If I were buying something smaller, I would definitely like having the same full size keyboard available.

  6. bb

    04/28/2009 at 9:02 am

    I still own a 701c, and I have often wished that others would adopt the butterfly keyboard.

    And I wish any netbook (including Lenovo’s own) had a keyboard the equal of the Thinkpad.

  7. Clayton

    04/28/2009 at 9:19 am

    The S10’s keyboard is awfully close to thinkpad quality, I enjoy typing on it… But there is, of course, room for improvement, as there always will be with sub-12″ notebooks.

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