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Looking for Laptop with "Centered" keyboard/mouspad

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July 2, 2011 1:53:32 AM


It seems like all the decent-sized laptops out there (15" or larger) now have a dedicated number pad. In theory, this sounds great. But I have noticed that I am developing elbow and shoulder problems when I work on laptops with keyboards and mouse pads that are far off-center (to the left), as is the case with all of the laptops with number pads. After a while, my right elbow and shoulder start to hurt, to the point that I have stop working at the computer.

I need a new laptop since my old Dell Inspiron 8100 is on it's last leg, but I need something with a display at least 15" (preferably 17"). And it's clear now that I will need something with a centered keyboard and mousepad. Does any such thing exist?

I should point out that the latest Mac's still have a centered keyboard/mouspad, but unfortunately I can not afford a Mac (or all the new software I'd need to buy to replace my PC-only software). Other than Mac's, so far the largest laptop I can find that still has a centered keyboard/mousepad are the Dell XPS's (15.6") and a few of the Dell Inspirons (also 15.6"). Once you get above 16", I don't see any non-Mac laptops with a centered keyboard and mousepad.

Is there anyone out there who makes a non-Mac 16"+ laptop with a centered keyboard? Am I the only one having this problem? (Actually, I know I'm not the only one having this problem, but I don't think there are enough of us to have any impact on the trends of the laptop market). :( 

Thanks.
July 2, 2011 2:00:07 AM

(Also, just to clarify - I had mentioned Dell several times, but I don't specifically need/want a Dell, just something with a centered keyboard)... Thanks.
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a b D Laptop
July 2, 2011 2:13:13 AM

Okay, we will need you to fill out a few questions first... Just to help see what you need the computer for. Copy + Paste these questions in your reply, with answers below each individual question.


Thanks,




1. What is your budget?

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

3. What screen resolution do you want?

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

5. How much battery life do you need?

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.

13. What country do you live in?

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.

Additionally... you should also consider what support options are available in your area. If say you buy something abroad, will you be able to have it fixed near where you live? Does the warranty apply? How quickly do local accredited technicians fix laptops?
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July 2, 2011 10:44:40 PM


1. What is your budget?
I prefer a maximum price in the $1000-ish range, but will consider up to $2000 if it's got a really good setup (ergonomics, processors, ram, etc)


2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
Anything larger than 15" (diagonal), but preferably 16" or 17"


3. What screen resolution do you want?
No particular preference, just something that's generally considered appropriate for the size of the display. I don't mind paying a little bit more for better resolution, but it's not a deal-breaker. For me, the ergonomics of the keyboard & touchpad (and touchpad buttons) are more critical.


4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
No preference. I'm not worried about ultra-portability. But most of the laptops I'm interested in tend to fall into the category of "desktop replacement"


5. How much battery life do you need?
No specific preference (at least a couple of hours)


6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?
Unlikely that I will play games


7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
I mainly use internet and Office applications, and sometimes watch video content from Netflix,etc. I'd like the ability to have several applications open at a time without experiencing major slow-downs. For example, I often need to have Firefox, MSWord, Excel, and Powerpoint open all at the same time (occasionally Photoshop as well, which seems to be a real speed-killer).


8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
Bare minimum 200GB (but the more the better)


9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

I'd prefer something that's available to purchase in-store, so I can try out the keyboard and touchpad first. I'm prone to tendonitis and other repetitive-use injuries, and I never really know what will work for me until I try it out. Alternatively, I wouldn't mind ordering something online, as long as I could try out the same model in the store (or a virtually identical model, i.e., w/ same chassis, keyboard, touchpad) before ordering it.

I've been looking in BestBuy, OfficeDepot, and Staples. There's a CompUSA about an hour away, so that's an option if necessary. Any suggestions for retail locations would be welcome.

If absolutely necessary, I'd consider an online-only vendor who has something like a 30-day "no questions" return policy (and with a Good reputation for actually honoring that policy).



10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?

The longer the better (although right now the ergonomic issues are my biggest concern). In general, I'd like the number of years that I get out a laptop to be somewhat proportional to what I paid for it. If I pay extra for a particular feature, it's usually related to making things work better or run more smoothly, or if it means my laptop is less likely to become obsolete technology soon.


11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
If possible, I'd like a double-layer DVD drive (DL-DVD+/-RW; CD-RW) (Bluray not necessary), but that's not a deal-breaker.


12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.

The brand is really main thing that will determine whether a centered-keyboard is available out there, so here's what I've got so far:

I prefer Toshiba, Sony, or Dell, (maybe HP and Samsung also). I'm willing to consider other brands if the ergonomics are good. I've tried most of the Mac's, and although they do have centered keyboards, the overall ergonomics still aren't as good as I'd hoped, especially for that kind of money. (Mac's probably won't fit my budget, anyway, especially because all my software is for PCs only).

Right now I'm leaning towards Sony, Toshiba, and Dell, because of the ergonomics (along w/ the quality of these brands), which is mainly based on my going to the stores and trying out each laptop for about 5 minutes. (Yes, it looks a bit strange, but whatever...).

So far the Toshiba and Sony-VAIO models seem most comfortable for me. The ergonomics can still vary between particular series (e.g. Toshiba Satellite vs. Toshiba Portege; or the Dell Inspiron vs. Dell XPS).

The big problem is what I've mentioned about the keyboards being shifted to the left on all the larger laptops, causing ergonomics issues for me. For laptops with larger than a 15" display (diagonal), the 15.6" Dell XPS series is the only one I've found so far that has a centered keyboard and touchpad. But I'd really like something larger (if it has a centered keyboard). I just don't know if anything like this exists. :( 

Another ergonomics issue is the touchpad & touchpad-buttons. For this reason HP "off my list", for now. Lately HP has been doing weird stuff with their touchpad and buttons. You have to press harder on the buttons (which are more of a toggle bar now) and this is uncomfortable for me. I've heard this same thing from other people, so I wonder if HP will change this setup if enough people don't like it? If they do fix this issue, I'd consider HP again.



13. What country do you live in?
U.S.


14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.

A few other preferences:
- Prefer an Intel processor (preferably i3, i5, or i7).
- at least 4GB of RAM (possibly less, if it's expandable),
- Windows 7 operating system (Home or Pro, either one is fine)
- Decent speakers would be nice (but less important than the centered keyboard and touchpad)
- A USB 3.0 port would be nice (but not deal-breaker)

- And I'd like a laptop that will clean my house.
:love: 


Additionally... you should also consider what support options are available in your area. If say you buy something abroad, will you be able to have it fixed near where you live? Does the warranty apply? How quickly do local accredited technicians fix laptops?

Whatever brand I get, it's important that they have customer support that "doesn't suck" - specifically in regards to Warranty repairs. Of course, it would be better if nothing needed to be repaired. :)  But realistically, sometimes stuff breaks. I have a Toshiba netbook, and Toshiba was very good with a warranty repair I needed when my display died. But I have an older Dell Inspiron, and within the first year of purchase there were several problems that needed warranty repairs, and what made matters worse (exponentially!) was that it was like pulling teeth trying to getting them to honor the warranty.

The warranty-repair issue is another reason I'd like to have an in-store location where I could bring my computer in, so I can have a face-to-face discussion. I don't enjoy calling customer/tech support 10 times, and being put on hold for 30 minutes, only to keep getting 'mysteriously' disconnected (which pretty much describes my past experiences with Dell - I don't know if they've gotten any better).

Best of all - if there's an in-store location, this allows me to be able to literally smack someone on the head if they're not being helpful. ;)  (As opposed to only wishing I could reach through the phone and smack someone on the head. ...Or until someone invents a remote smack-on-the-head device)


Thanks!
:hello: 

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a b D Laptop
July 3, 2011 5:56:22 AM

Okay, I just decided that I'd post this, even though... the touchpad(s) positioning(s) are strange...

http://www.amazon.com/NX90JQ-B2-18-4-Inch-Versatile-Ent...

This computer has 2 touchpads, 1 on the left... 1 on the right (of the keyboard.)

I don't recommend it >_> But it is an interesting design, that you may find ergonomical.


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a b D Laptop
July 3, 2011 6:06:58 AM

http://www.amazon.com/N73SV-A1-17-3-Inch-Versatile-Ente...

This is ultimately what I recommend, great performance:p rice ratio.
And, the touchpad is more-less moved close to the center.
The problem with getting a computer with a touchpad in the center of the chassis is, you are looking to invest in a large laptop, the larger, the more room, the more room, well, the added features (generally.) in this case, most manufacturers will add a number pad to the laptop because there is plenty of room to do it.
That creates an indirect problem for you, a rule of thumb is that the touchpad will generally be right under the space bar, or wherever the center of the "main" keyboard is. So, if you have a number pad on the right, your "main" keyboard will be shifted to the left, and so will the touchpad.

99% of the time, laptops will have a touchpad that is not centered. I can try to find 1... or maybe 2, but they will most likely not be the perfect mix, just because they aren't such a feature to consider from the manufacturers point of view.

Well, the Asus N73SV is probably my top pick for your config requirements, please reply if you have something different in mind, a question, either about another laptop your thinking about, or a just any general question...



I looked at bestbuy.com... they didn't have anything worth mentioning, so I guess the farthest you could go with showing your unhappiness with a product would be with sending an email with a :( 
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July 3, 2011 11:34:10 PM

Actually, that ASUS with two touchpads looks kind of interesting. And the speakers seem like they'd have pretty freakin' awesome acoustics!

Check it out:
http://www.asus.com/Notebooks/Multimedia_Entertainment/...
Be sure to watch their Hollywood production-quality video about it, complete with a conversation with the swanky "designer". And check out the Polished Aluminum finish on the lid! (actually, I don't care either way about the lid, but it's funny how they talk it up so much).

Like you said, it's is a bit "out there" (and it's not cheap). But for me the dual-touchpad actually might not be a bad idea. For my desktop at work, I have a wireless mouse and have become ambidextrous with the mouse, out of necessity (I think I mentioned I have other issues with tendonitis,etc). If my right hand starts to bother me, I just switch the mouse over to the left hand. It took some getting used to, but it works. Technically, having a touch pad off to the side is a more ergonomic setup, although I can understand why a lot of people wouldn't be interested in this.

Hmmm... I'm gonna have to think about this one a bit...

Hey - did I mention that the speakers look pretty freakin' awesome! (...sorry, but I really like having good speakers.)

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July 4, 2011 12:32:14 AM

For the ASUS that you recommended,
(http://www.amazon.com/N73SV-A1-17-3-Inch-Versatile-Ente...)

This one doesn't look half bad either. Even though there's still a number pad, so the keyboard is still a bit off-center, it's not nearly as off-center as some of the other laptops I've seen (at least in the case of larger laptops). For this one, they've left a bit more empty-space on the left side of the keyboard, and they were pretty efficient with the space taken up by the number pad on the right. So things aren't shifted over to the left quite as much as with other laptops. I do make use of the number pad whenever I'm using a desktop computer, so it's not like it'd be a waste to have it.

This may be the closest thing I've seen so far in terms of a larger laptop that doesn't have a horribly off-center keyboard. (Except for that wacky dual-touchpad Asus you mentioned!!) I've actually seen "gaming" laptops that have a whole big area dedicated to the up/down/across arrow keys, placed between the main keyboard and the number pad. I guess that makes ergonomic sense (as long as you're right-handed) if you spend more time using those keys than you do typing. But the laptop-gaming world is completely foreign to me, so to tell you the truth I don't know which keys are used most often...

Anyway, I'm gonna think about this one, too...

p.s. I agree that the touchpad is/should always be centered under the spacebar. I basically consider the letter-keys & touchpad to be a whole unit. When I say "keyboard/touchpad" I really mean "letter-keys/touchpad" - I guess I didn't make that clear. And most of the letter-keys/touchpads on laptops are always a tiny bit off-center, to the left, because of the room needed for the backspace/enter/up-down/(etc) keys.

p.p.s. Again, I'd welcome any feedback regarding Asus, and regarding ordering a laptop from Amazon. I didn't see any way to order directly from Asus on their web site. Then again, there's no guarantee ordering direct from the manufacturer would be any better than ordering from a 3rd party.
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July 4, 2011 1:11:04 AM

As you can tell, I've really analyzed these keyboard layouts, and I realize most people don't notice most of these things - including most of the laptop designers :(  ...Is it horrible that I kinda hope a lot more people start having these problems with the off-center keyboard setup? (so there'd be enough of a demand for a more ergonomic keyboard)

With a desktop keyboard I'm able to slide it left-to-right as needed, so I can keep a more 'neutral' typing posture. If someone made a laterally-sliding keyboard on a laptop, that would be great, but I've actually Googled the heck out of that, and didn't find anything. On the off chance that you've heard of anything like this (even if it's just in-development stuff), feel free to pass along any info.

FYI - speaking of laptops with some "out there" designs, in my search for a laptop with a laterally-sliding keyboard, I found out that someone actually makes a laptop with a laterally sliding dual-monitor setup (with two full-sized monitors). That's verging on ridiculous, in my opinion, and it looks like it's just asking to be dropped on the floor and have one or both of the monitors snapped off. But, hey, maybe some people desperately need dual monitors on their laptops?

So in case someone asks you about laptops with full-sized laterally-sliding dual monitors, (if you don't already know about this one) here's a link...
http://www.gscreencorp.com/home.htm

And here's some background reading (Lenovo makes/made a ThinkPad with a slide-out half-sized monitor)
http://ctovision.com/2009/08/finally-a-real-dual-monito...)

:) 
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a b D Laptop
July 4, 2011 4:02:31 AM

Hmmm... I've heard of some strange features that some laptops have, (similar actually to the dual screen...)
Strange thing is, that the image on the website is Photoshoped, it was pretty easy to identify, but, I mean, photoshoped one of the screen's orientation is incorrect... >_>
But after seeing the actual video, I guess they're an actual brand, that make the actual laptop.

Asus offers a list of 3rd party vendors on their site, but yeah, I don't think they like dealing directly with the customers. It ruins their reputation in a sense if someone buys a laptop from them that's DOA, or not working properly.

There are some very, very interesting concepts out there for laptops, some seem far from possible...But that's the thing with technology, before, who could have guessed that the world would be based on digital machines that were run off pieces of plastic, metal, and wire...

I think, the Asus NX90, might be a good choice, now that I come to think of it... But, and the touchpads are both multi-touch, and work just as good a regular touchpad... You might find it a bit of a problem getting used to the fact that the touchpad's are in a portrait shape. They're out of line with the screen (since the screen is obviously, 16:9.)... I think the best solution to see if you actually "liked" the NX90 would be to get a hand's on look on the laptop, sit at a desk with it... It is expensive, and there has been a few questions about the ergonomics, the keyboard isn't exactly built for office work... infront of the keyboard there are a few light indicators that are very bright, some people were annoyed because it shinned brightly in their eyes...

I'm a gamer (somewhat, I spend about 1% of my time gaming, but when I do play, I expect max settings out of my laptop), and I have the Asus G73, which I'm extremely happy with. I'm extremely confortable using it for long periods at a time. I've gone 6 hours straight typing, messing with animations etc... Mainly because it has a nice rubber coating, which is extremely nice to rest your hands on, in oppose to plastic, or metal. And I had no issues with it, I'm confortable with everything except... the touchpad, Asus had a bit of a problem with the G73... There was a glitch on the touchpad that caused it to act funny, it worked 1/2 the time, it sometimes misunderstands the command, and instead of dragging a file into a folder on your desktop, like I intended for it to do, it resizes the icons...
That isn't a problem for me, luckily, since I wouldn't go anywhere without a decent mouse.



I think, that probably the Asus N73 is your best bet, it has the performance, it has the price, and it has a decently placed touchpad.

I have one comment on the touchpad of the N73 though. It is one long button. This is something that might annoy some people. Because, you are sort of using a seesaw touchpad. It is the same deal on the G73, but I haven't had an issue with it, it works fine, but it just a tad hard to press sometimes, especially if your going to work off of it, it isn't like a dell touchpad, where the buttons are cheap plastic, but they're so easy to press...


I think that I overlooked your main concern with the ergonomics with that laptop though, it is somewhat a well placed touchpad, but I'd think that 1 button can make all the difference in your situation.


I'll be searching for other deals... Asus is more of a gaming brand, but they have the best reputation quality, and price wise. I wasn't specifically looking for them when I was trying to find what your looking for... I just found them to be the only laptops that seemed to fit the bill.

There might be a few decent offers from Lenovo, or Dell... I know that many Lenovo laptops have a few neat pointer device features... such as the mini-joystick...

Okay, I have one more idea that comes to mind, this one, I've been holding off on, because I'm totally against the idea... But that's your descision- Mac.

Yeah, the Macbook Pro 15" might be something worth looking at, they have the largest touchpad, real nice too, and it is perfectly centered.

It start's at 1799 dollars, and it has a Core i7. It has a poor graphics card, but adequate.
If you are willing to transfer from Windows to Mac OS X (Lion will be released very soon), it might be worthwhile, but I can't support Apple in anyway, overpriced, underclocked, and very primitive in terms of flexibility and design (internal design).

Here is the link to the official Apple MB Pro 15" configurator:

http://store.apple.com/us/configure/MC721LL/A?mco=MjEyO...




I think, if you aren't bothered by the Asus N73's touchpad 1 large button flaw, then that would be my number 1 recommendation.

Number 2, maybe the NX90, if you think you'd be confortable with the strange layout.

Number 3... Well, I think there is a tie there, and there are probably more that I haven't though about that would probably make a good laptop.


Number 95, possibly the Mac...
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March 1, 2012 3:03:20 PM

I have been looking for a non-centered mousepad for 6 months. The only one that is out there now is the old HP G6 series. All other manufacturers, including HP, have moved the mousepad to the left. This causes incredible ergonomic problems, unless you want to shift your body left and not be positioned in the middle of the screen. I bought a Toshiba and had to return it after three days, only using it for personal reasons after work.

It is obvious what all the companies did when the screens got larger. They added the numeric keyboard on the right to take up the "extra" space created by the wider screen, but they didn't move the mousepad to the center of the screen. I'm sure this was purely a cost decision - they would have to make more changes to their manufacturing facilities to move the mousepad also. If you look at the old and the new laptops you'll see exactly what I mean. All of this at the expense of our bodies being forced into positions they aren't supposed to go in. Try keeping your neck craned to the right so you can be in front of the center of the screen for over 5 minutes, then imagine just one hour on that laptop!

I now have to buy a 2-year old HP from the only place you can get it - the HP site. Thankfully I can get a newer chip in it but the resolution is going to be horrible compared to the new laptops on the market.
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a b D Laptop
March 1, 2012 3:29:48 PM

Betsy R said:
For the ASUS that you recommended,
(http://www.amazon.com/N73SV-A1-17-3-Inch-Versatile-Ente...)

This one doesn't look half bad either. Even though there's still a number pad, so the keyboard is still a bit off-center, it's not nearly as off-center as some of the other laptops I've seen (at least in the case of larger laptops). For this one, they've left a bit more empty-space on the left side of the keyboard, and they were pretty efficient with the space taken up by the number pad on the right. So things aren't shifted over to the left quite as much as with other laptops. I do make use of the number pad whenever I'm using a desktop computer, so it's not like it'd be a waste to have it.

This may be the closest thing I've seen so far in terms of a larger laptop that doesn't have a horribly off-center keyboard. (Except for that wacky dual-touchpad Asus you mentioned!!) I've actually seen "gaming" laptops that have a whole big area dedicated to the up/down/across arrow keys, placed between the main keyboard and the number pad. I guess that makes ergonomic sense (as long as you're right-handed) if you spend more time using those keys than you do typing. But the laptop-gaming world is completely foreign to me, so to tell you the truth I don't know which keys are used most often...

Anyway, I'm gonna think about this one, too...

p.s. I agree that the touchpad is/should always be centered under the spacebar. I basically consider the letter-keys & touchpad to be a whole unit. When I say "keyboard/touchpad" I really mean "letter-keys/touchpad" - I guess I didn't make that clear. And most of the letter-keys/touchpads on laptops are always a tiny bit off-center, to the left, because of the room needed for the backspace/enter/up-down/(etc) keys.

p.p.s. Again, I'd welcome any feedback regarding Asus, and regarding ordering a laptop from Amazon. I didn't see any way to order directly from Asus on their web site. Then again, there's no guarantee ordering direct from the manufacturer would be any better than ordering from a 3rd party.


I would strongly consider one of these: http://shop.lenovo.com/us/laptops/thinkpad/w-series/w52...

While it is only a 15" I think everything else fits what you are looking for and if you haven't used Lenovo keyboards they are very nice to type on and their build quality and durability is top-notch.

Edit: I really like Asus brand too, I have a 3 year old N80vn I still use quite a bit for light gaming, but for work I have a Lenovo T500 and X220i and since you aren't looking at gaming I think you would find the ergonomics and comfort of the Lenovo to be far superior to the Asus if you look at the W or the T series.
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