Lenovo ThinkPad Compact USB Keyboards - 0B47190 and 55Y9003

Gear: Lenovo ThinkPad 0B47190 / KU-1255, 55Y9003 / SK-8855, SIIG USB Keyboard, Max Keyboard Blackbird Tenkeyless (backlit), also check the IBM Model #40K5372.

It's time for me to get a new keyboard, and the search begins with Lenovo keyboards.  The video has the summary of my thoughts, but for more details you can view the images below.

I choose compact keyboards because I feel that my body is more aligned correctly with my computer monitor.  Having a keypad forces me to be out of a "symmetry."  It's not the most important preference, but it's one that I enjoy.

The new Lenovo keyboard is usually associated with 0B47190, however it may have KU-1255 as the model number.  The older model is usually associated with 55Y9003, however it may also be known by SK-8855 as the model number.

0B47190 Images

 Inside the package.

 Box contents.  The keyboard is based on the precision keyboard, which has a concavity, u-shaped bottom, rounded top corners, and island style spacing--these features allow for great key discrimination. The USB cable is detachable.

 Back of the keyboard; it seems that there are drain holes.

 The keyboard has these tiny raisers.

 The added elevation is not really substantial.

 As you can see, the new keyboard is more compact than the SIIG.

 The overall thickness is considerably less than the SIIG.

 Lenovo's 0B47190 has tiny directional keys.

 Lenovo has chosen to implement action keys in the function ones.  The Fn+FnLk combination switches the entire row of buttons.

 Lenovo has held that their Fn key should be at the bottom left side... I disagree and prefer Ctrl to be at the bottom left.

A quite special asset of the keyboard is the TrackPoint.  With this addition you can manipulate the mouse pointer; options include left and right clicks, as well as scrolling.  The TrackPoint though is not a traditional one because it does not have behaviors when you push the red stick.


55Y9003 Images

 The box.

 Inside the box.

 Package contents.  Look, there's a CD!

 The old-style keys were observed in many ThinkPad systems prior to 2012.  The keys are spacious and once your hands are on the right spot you can type very well.  The new keyboard (0B47190) has an advantage in that you can more easily navigate your hands to the right keys, the older one's design sometimes requires more "wandering" around until your fingers get to the right place.

 The back of the keyboard has drain holes, compartment for the USB cable, and raiser pads.  The USB cable cannot be detached.

 The keyboard without the raisers extended.

 When the raisers are extended the keyboard has a considerable angle.

 As you can see the angle of elevation of the 55Y9003 (older) is higher than the new 0B47190.

 The older keyboard feels lighter and "cheaper," the new one feels sturdier.  There is flexing in both, however the older one has substantially more flexing.  On both keyboards you cannot switch the Fn and Ctrl keys; on Lenovo laptops though this is possible through the Bios.

 The older keyboard has more palm rest, which can be a significant issue.

 The new keyboard is slightly less wide than the older.

 The X230T and 55Y9003 have substantial palm rest space which enables comfort while typing.

 The 0B47190 has a tiny palm rest... which in my case makes the keyboard unusuable.  The problem is that if a user relaxes the arms the palms will slide away from the keyboard.  When that user tries to get back on the keyboard he/she can accidentally press the TrackPoint buttons.  For those that do not rest their palms the typing will be good.

The older (top right) keyboard has a problem in which capitalization of the second letter occurs.  THis WOuld LOok LIke THis. The behavior though is inconsistent and those who type at a fast pace will notice it more than those who type at a more "normal" speed.  I type between 70 and 80 words per minute and occasionally encounter the capitalization problem.  New drivers do not solve the issue.

0B47190  and 55Y9003 Software

 The new keyboard (0B47190) has very simple settings.

On the older keyboard (55Y9003) you get many more settings; this is the "real" TrackPoint.


A note for desktop users:

I forgot to mention. The TrackPoint seems to be a better input system when interacting with smaller monitors. On my X230T's 12.5 inch screen the TrackPoint is a blessing, but on a 30 inch monitor it does not feel the same--it feels like I'm "wandering" and therefore unprecise. Some of the adjustments in the software help though, but overall the TrackPoint feels better suited for smaller screens. An estimate of the proper screen size would be... monitors sized 15 inches or less.


Conclusion

Both are good keyboards, but to me both have issues.  The problems that I observed are enough for me to return both.  While I would like to have a TrackPoint on my compact keyboard I will have to settle for something that does not have it.  Next week I'll receive a Max Keyboard Blackbird Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard and I hope it's satisfied my need of a new keyboard.


Lenovo Product Information:


IBM Introduces the "Pointing Stick" (TrackPoint)

Published: Dec 21, 2013

10 comments:

  1. Hello,
    I also have the KU-1255 model keyboard. I have chosen it for the same reasons stated in your article.

    Have you ever noticed that the lower-case «d» key is somewhat troublesome? When fast-typing it seems that it is the key whose «type» is missing. It works, but not always when fast-typing. I wonder if it is a production flaw .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm unsure why a specific key would be troublesome, but as you mentioned it could be a production flaw. In these types of cases sharing the info on forums might help, or maybe Dr. google has some answers.

      Delete
  2. Hello, Jesse. Thanks for writing such a fine article. I especially appreciated the pics you posted. I've recently purchased the 0BY7190. My unit did come with a driver CD so I've been fruitlessly searching the Lenovo web site for drivers. Your link took me right to them. Thank you, for that. Where did you locate the 0BY47190 model number. My keyboard only lists the KU-1255 model number on the back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most sales pages write 0BY7190 instead of the KU-1255. I don't know why.

      Delete
  3. Hey Jesse, I also like gaming with a trackpoint, but I was wondering if these keyboard have the fatal flaw that my ThinkPad SL500 has. When you press Up+Left+Space bar you'd expect to jump upwards and to the left, but instead the space bar isn't registered. Over time I got used to it and mostly jumped up and to the right and dead left when dodging around in FPS games, but I rather not have to deal with that limitation anymore. Could you maybe test the key-press limitations/ghosting of these keyboards? If you do point me to a donation button if you have one! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I no longer have the keyboards so I cannot perform tests. Sorry.

      Delete
    2. Darn... thanks for getting back to me anyway. I guess I'll go with my back-up plan and get a Cooler Master Quick Fire Ultimate w/ Browns or just keep searching.

      Delete
  4. Hi Jesse,

    Did you have any trouble getting the older 55Y9003 keyboard drivers to work with your X230 tablet? I've never managed to get the trackpoint to work with mine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello,
    I have a possibly unrelated question regarding the difference of the lenovo SK-8855 and the 55Y9003.
    They appear synonymously but I wonder what exactly the difference is. The reason i'm asking is that there are still some of SK-8855 arround.
    Many thanks for any comments!
    Andreas

    ReplyDelete

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Hi. My name is Jesse, and I'm a technology enthusiast. I play with technology and share what I find on this blog. If you have any questions then please use the contact form below. I'll get back to you as soon as I can.


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