TEX Shinobi: New mechanical TrackPoint keyboard with Lenovo/IBM ThinkPad 7 row layout
When Lenovo changed the iconic keyboard of the ThinkPad laptops in 2012, the new Chiclet key design was not the big upset for many ThinkPad lovers. More important for many passionate ThinkPad users was the 7 row layout from the IBM ThinkPad days, which closely resembled desktop keyboards in the arrangement of the navigation keys. This was a feature that was long gone by 2012 on other brands and which would no longer be offered in any laptop from now on.
Since, there have consistently been calls for a return to the old layout. But recent Lenovo ThinkPad Laptops like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2019 still use the reduced layout with six key rows. There was a new Lenovo ThinkPad laptop with the classical keyboard in 2017, but the Lenovo ThinkPad 25 was a limited special-edition for the 25th birthday of the brand, not a permanent addition to the line.
Some fans of the old keyboard based in Taiwan have taken matter into their own hands now. Their startup TEX does not release a ThinkPad laptop with the classical keyboard – but at least a new external keyboard.
The new TEX Shinobi features the characteristic red ThinkPad TrackPoint as well as the classical IBM ThinkPad 7 row layout. TEX combines these ThinkPad design elements (alongside the IBM blue enter key) with mechanical Cherry switches.
If you order a TEX Shinobi, you get the choice between the different mechanical Cherry Switches and chose different country-layouts, too. The keyboard is connected to the PC via USB cable, though optionally, there is a Bluetooth upgrade kit.
Such a product from a startup is certainly not cheap. The keyboard costs at least $185. Depending on the chosen Cherry switch, the price can increase a little bit more. The Bluetooth kit costs extra as well.
So in the end, buyers will end up with at least $200 for the TEX Shinobi if shipping is included – that should not be a huge roadblock though, considering this is a product for ThinkPad purists.