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The T-bao Tbook5 Pro laptop: Too cool for square keys

The T-bao Tbook5 Pro laptop also features a bright blue fingerprint sensor. (Image source: Gearbest)
The T-bao Tbook5 Pro laptop also features a bright blue fingerprint sensor. (Image source: Gearbest)
Chinese manufacturer T-bao has released its Tbook5 Pro laptop that offers users something of an intriguing unique selling point. The device comes with a dedicated graphics card from Nvidia and a CPU from Intel’s Celeron series, but what helps it stand out from the crowd is its visually striking keyboard that has been described as “retro punk”.

There aren’t going to be too many potential laptop purchasers who will be dazzled by the inclusion of Nvidia’s now ageing GeForce 940M chip or Intel’s new(ish) but not-so-mighty Celeron 3867U processor. A notebook with 8 GB RAM is hardly out of the ordinary, and a 256 GB SSD may be welcome but it should be expected nowadays. So what has the T-bao Tbook5 Pro got going for it that will entice customers? A “retro punk” keyboard, that’s what.

Apparently, a “retro punk” keyboard is a marketingese way of describing a keyboard that has round keys instead of square ones. The “retro” part of the term refers to the call-back to the shape of the keys on typewriter keyboards, whereas the “punk” part is possibly aimed at users who like flashy keyboards and want to feel they are part of a cool subculture. Regardless of the definition, the style used for the T-bao Tbook5 Pro laptop’s main input device will have its fans and its detractors.

Are round keys on a thin and light laptop enough to help shift thousands of units of the T-bao Tbook5 Pro? Unlikely, especially as the 14.1-inch laptop costs US$489 (reduced from US$599) and is from a not well-known manufacturer. But it’s an interesting design choice that has been explored by much larger tech companies in the past. For instance, Google created its Pixel Slate Keyboard specifically for those who wanted to enjoy working with round keys, because apparently it helps to reduce typos due to the increased distance between each key.

T-bao Tbook5 Pro. (Image source: Gearbest)
T-bao Tbook5 Pro. (Image source: Gearbest)
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Daniel R Deakin, 2019-11- 3 (Update: 2019-11- 3)