Monday 28 October 2013

The stupidest trend in laptop design is...

... numpads on laptop keyboards.

Just because a very, very, very restricted segment of the population is into accounting or other jobs needing frequent numeric input, almost all laptop manufacturers feel the stupid urge to place a numpad on laptops with screens over 14''.

Reasons why a numpad on a laptop is a bad idea:
  • can lead to health issues: it forces the user to assume a bad position in front of the screen; this can affect the eyes and the backbone; It's bad enough many people have a bad posture in front of the computer as it is, no need to pump up Scoliosis' position in the laundry list of modern day health risks
The numpad forces eye focus and users' hands to be way off center.
The touchpad looks as if it was thrown to the side by accident
Note how the designer tried to offset the misalignment forced
by the numpad by "positioning" the touchpad closer to center,
but not in line with the space bar (and the keyboard)

  • ugly design: it simply looks ugly; why do people think Apple didn't jump into this stupid bandwagon? Because it's ugly design!
Without numpad the position is almost perfect!
The symmetry of the laptop improves on the design.
Notice how the touchpad is also centered.

  • the numpad is useless for the vast majority of people, and those who need numpads, already use them at desktop (keyboard) or, can buy numpads
  • it's more expensive to manufacture (more moving parts, more complex wiring and more expensive materials - plastic is cheaper than plastic+copper+rubber)
  • less resilient: more ways to fail, higher risk to get liquids inside
  • bad mechanical design: wider keyboard means less distance from the edge to the keyboard, which can mean a more fragile case
  • makes the laptop heavier: the plastic or material that covers the keys would be enough to cover the insides; the extra rubber, wiring, support etc, add extra weight
  • it kills the opportunity to use the real estate for other useful things (or things which improve the overall design): speakers, volume keys, finger print readers, other special function keys, LEDs or other output devices
What's worse is that most resellers do not have filters for this particular mis-feature, so you can't easily exclude laptops corrupted by this horrendous idea.

So, if you're a laptop designer, please stop putting numpads on laptops.

It will make for better looking laptops and you'll have the opportunity to be the one stating the obvious: numpads are generally useless! Even on desktop keyboards!