Lenovo launched its latest Legion 7i and 7 (opens in new tab) gaming laptops in May, and they feature all the modern laptop gaming goodness you might expect from premium 16-inch designs in 2022. However, a keyboard innovation that will make a big difference to gamers wasn’t really put in the spotlight – the inclusion of full-analog keys behind the WASD array.
The information from Lenovo about the special WASD keys is rather light on detail, so thankfully the company behind those keys, Peratech, has put together its own press release today, providing the full details of its analog keyboard technology. Picking through the press releases, this now appears to be a standard feature of the latest Lenovo Legion 7i and 7 gaming laptops, as part of the revamped Legion TrueStrike Keyboard that ships with these models.
If you aren’t quite sure what full-analog WASD keys entails, it's that these keys, commonly used for movement in PC-gaming, are pressure sensitive. Thus if you press W to move your game character forward, for example, the deeper you depress the W key, the faster the character will move. Peratech calls this a “console-style game controller experience” via your keyboard. Remember, with an analog game controller, the thumbsticks move characters faster the further you push them in any direction.
We have seen analog keys in some of the best gaming keyboards for years when it comes to dedicated standalone peripherals. Memorable examples come from the likes of Razer, Cooler Master and Wooting. But perhaps the most significant difference between laptop and desktop keyboards is key travel distance, which tends to be much more limited with portable PCs. Lenovo says that its new laptop keyboard has 1.5mm key travel, while many analog keyboard models have 4mm. The extra key travel in the desktop example should make incremental movement speed changes easier to do with finesse. Obviously, the shorter range of the laptop key travel means it will be harder to keep your movement very smooth and accurate. But we'll have to wait and see how this pans out in our own testing.
Peratech’s keys work in concert with its Hydra UI software. In the screenshots above, you can see there are lots of settings to change, to adjust key functions and responses, even going as far as a response curve editor. Hydra lets you make these settings per game/app, and they can auto-switch between profiles. But you'll need to do some of your own tweaking since Just 11 pre-sets are provided for games. These include Forza Horizon 4, PUBG, and Resident Evil Village.
Lenovo and Peratech say that the special WASD keys feel and type just like the others on the keyboard, so their presence won’t disadvantage your productivity for the sake of gaming. Nevertheless, the WASD keys are swappable, with spare regular keys in the box.
We last reviewed the Lenovo Legion 7 in January 2022, and the Legion 7i in October 2021. These reviews pre-date the update to the Legion TrueStrike Keyboard, so we haven’t had one of Lenovo’s laptops with Peratech Force Enabled keys in the labs, as yet. But perhaps the new feature will help Lenovo's new Legions eke out a spot on our best gaming laptops list. But only time--and some game testing--will tell.