As developers we prefer to be free from any restrictions on hardware. Means over 90% of the developers prefer to use a Laptop over a Desktop, to be able to work everywhere.
This throws up the question what are the best laptop keyboards for developing?

Formerly IBMs Thinkpads had a really good keyboard layout. The engineers of IBM ThinkPads have been the master in the matter of designing a very good thinkpad keyboard from ergonomic perspective. Especially if you are a hard-core keyboard writer and you are able to type with the 10-finger system. The engineers Thinkpad keyboard managed to keep the positioning of

  • Cursor-Buttons
  • Del-Button
  • Navigation Keys like Pos1, End, PageUp, PageDown
  • ESC
  • Function-Keys
  • Print, Pause, Scroll, Ins

at nearly the same position where you also find them on a full sized desktop keyboard.

locations of special keys on classical 7 row Thinkpad keyboard T400
locations of special keys on classical 7 row Thinkpad keyboard T400


So many of my colleagues an me, loved the fact to have always the same keyboard layout, independently if they work on the desktop with a full size keyboard, or if they work mobile on a Thinkpad keyboard.
Despite of the fact there have been sometime better Laptops on the market, we always preferred to buy Thinkpads mostly on the fact of the same Thinkpad keyboard.

But what is so different at the keyboards you may ask?

7 row keyboard or the classical keyboard style

classical 7 row Thinkpad keyboard
The classical 7 row Thinkpad keyboard



Sadly with the first rumors about the new T430 / T530 in 2012 a shitstrom started especially by these power users. Lenovo has shown images of


6 row keyboard or chiclet style (sometimes island style named)

new chiclet or island 6 row Thinkpad keyboard
The new chiclet or island 6 row Thinkpad keyboard


Lenovos Blog post, which was posted by Lenovo after the shitstorm from the power users: Lenovo-Keyboard_Change-Is-Hard-Why-You-Should-Give-In-to-the-New-ThinkPad-Keyboard.pdf

more readings:


Some Mods to pimp the keyboard


We preferred still to use the "aged" Thinkpads up to the T420, T520 and so on. Because they had still the classical keyboard style. We have pimped all the laptops to be able to develop on them. Of course the battery life is always to short, but the performance was still somehow okay.
But as of 2018 even with the full and maximum upgraded Laptops, means

  • installed best CPU
  • installed fastest SATA-SSD disk like the Samsung 970evo or 970pro
  • installed maximum of 16GB of RAM
  • highest available screen resolution (usually 1680 or 1920

The laptops are now getting into their technical limits. Of course many persons would like to have such a firepower in the laptop bag, but for Java / JavaEE / JakarteEE developers it is by the end of 2018 the lower entry class. Memory is always a limiter on enterprise projects...
And since many developers have felt the power of PCIe/NVMe based SSDs, which are in the meanwhile about factor of 5-7 times faster as the SATA-based SSDs, are searching for laptops with PCIe/NVMe-SSDs and 32+GB of RAM