Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Toshiba's bilingual notebook keyboard

I have used and purchased Toshiba notebooks (laptops) for the majority of my 13 year working career. Within the last few years, Toshiba Canada made the decision to supply only bilingual keyboards on all of its laptops. Customers do not have the option to choose a US English keyboard even if they wanted to.

Canada is a bilingual country. Approximately 2 million are francophone, 4 million are bilingual, and the remaining 30 million are anglophone. I'm having difficulty understanding why we are catering to the minority by default. I am not saying bilingual keyboards shouldn't be available. I do think the customer should have a choice in what keyboard they purchase. Since the keyboards can be swapped out without even taking the laptop apart, this should be an easy choice.

Below are some pictures of a Toshiba Netbook keyboard:

Bilingual keyboard

US English keyboard

Mostly identical, but the main difference is the Enter key. On the bilingual keyboard, they thought it was a good idea to make the Enter key vertical instead of horizontal. It's as if they have no idea how much this screws people up. Accuracy goes totally downhill on this keyboard. It drives me so insane that I bought a US English keyboard from eBay and intend on replacing the bilingual one before I even power on the unit. Who messes with the Enter key, one of the most frequently-used keys?

I'm interested in the opinions of French Canadians on whether this keyboard is just as annoying in your language as it is mine. There has to be a better layout than this and still include all the necessary keys. There are so many extra symbols and colors on the bilingual keyboard that I find it visually distracting. When I'm not making mistakes, that is.

I've written to Toshiba Canada to express my displeasure of not having the option to choose a keyboard. Any future laptops I purchase for personal use will be bought in the US, purely for this reason. It's that important to me.

Toshiba Canada, I think you need to reconsider your position.


John said...

As a touch-typist, having the Space bar smaller and the Enter key in a slightly different location screws me up. Hell, it is sometimes difficult for touch-typists to get used to a new, standard keyboard when the old one conks out! I would also likely have trouble with the two extra keys next to the Space bar.

Cyn said...

Ok so I'm really late on replying to this, but I wish they would allow a special order of alternate keyboards. While I don't have much use for a French keyboard, I would be really quite happy with a bilingual keyboard with German. The last couple years I've had more opportunity to use my German and it rather bothers me to have to type the English letters rather than the German letters. The option to have a custom bilingual keyboard language would make me seriously consider and likely choose a particular notebook/netbook since my desktop will always be my primary computer.