Keyboards, keyboards, keyboards

Look I know, I’m with you: the keyboard you use is of supreme importance to you and your work. Once you find one you like – mine is (still!) the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 – you never want to use another.

Well, consider this story. Back in the day I used to use a Dell Inspiron 3050 for personal data, such as finances and taxes and the like. About 18 months ago, there was an issue with the main SSD, which I replaced, and then it would putter along nicely. Until about 6 months ago, that is, when it just got. To. Be. Really. Slow. For. Some. Reason. This time though, I’d had enough with the device, it just wasn’t worth the investigation and trying to patch it all up again.

One big reason? My wife’s old Dell XPS 13 was just sitting in a corner, because she was now using a brand new one I’d bought for her birthday. Time to migrate the data and apps and start using that laptop instead. It did need a new battery, but hey, they are really easy to get and putting them in is a doddle: take off the back of the laptop, and then it’s just 4 screws.

There was another issue with it (which, along with the battery problem, was why I’d bought her a new XPS 13 and why I’d never tried to sell the old one on eBay) and that was that the keyboard was knackered. She types like a demon, and properly with all fingers, whereas I still get along using maybe four, and the keyboard has issues with several keys. I was generally using it with an external keyboard, but when I just wanted to quickly boot it up, I was having real problems with certain letters/digits that were in my password. Have you ever tried to type a password where you can’t see whether that last key you hit either didn’t register, or provided two or more characters? Yeah, not ideal.

So I looked up prices for keyboards for that XPS 13 on eBay and bought a replacement for $25. Should be an easy, quick change, right? After all, I knew how to replace the battery. Well, gentle reader, what I didn’t get straightaway is that you have to basically remove everything (battery! speakers! cooling system! CMOS battery! motherboard!) from inside the laptop before you can get at all the screws to remove the keyboard. I even found a YouTube video about it, but it didn’t help that they’d missed out a couple of things (the CPU cooling bar being one of them, and where did the SSD go?).

It took an hour and I’m happy to say the laptop booted up perfectly afterwards and the new keyboard was a joy to use. Admittedly, there was one small flaw: I still had one surplus screw after putting it all back together again, but I certainly wasn’t going to take it all apart to find out where it went…

Inside an XPS 13 9343

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1 Response

#1 Luiz Marques said...
20-Jan-21 7:31 AM

I used a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 for years, and the original MS natural before that (since late 95, I believe).

But a couple of years ago I got a keyboard cover for my tablet which had much better tactile feedback (which is pretty awful on all these MS keyboards).

I noticed how much I missed that and ended up getting a Logitech Prodigy G213 (no particular reason for the model - it was just the best one available for pick up in my favorite store, back when I left the house and thus didn't like to order physical products online). Adapted quickly, feels much better to type. Relatively noisy, though.

And the build quality is much, much better.

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