CES 2020 | ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II: Lenovo updates external TrackPoint keyboard
The year 2013 was a turning point for Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops. With the step from the ThinkPad T420 to the ThinkPad T430, Lenovo replaced the classical, IBM-design-based ThinkPad keyboard with a new Chiclet style keyboard.
This transformation happened not just for the laptops, the new design quickly arrived in the accessory space as well. Accordingly, the ThinkPad USB Keyboard with TrackPoint was replaced with the ThinkPad Compact Keyboard with TrackPoint. But even the Compact keyboard is old at this point, as it was announced in 2013. Since then, Lenovo has made many small modifications to the keyboard design. As the ThinkPad Compact keyboard is meant to mirror the internal ThinkPad keyboard, it basically became obsolete.
At CES 2020, Lenovo releases a new external TrackPoint keyboard. The ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II is the replacement of the ThinkPad Compact keyboard. The new keyboard looks a lot like the old one. It is still a compact, full-size ThinkPad keyboard, similar to the one of the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2020. On a closer inspection, there are a few visible changed compared with the old ThinkPad Compact keyboard.
As with newer ThinkPad laptops, the F keys are grouped. Also, some of the FN function have changed. For CapsLock and FNLock, the new ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II includes new status LEDs. Last but not least, the TrackPoint buttons have a new, flat design in line with the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8.
Different from the old ThinkPad Compact keyboard, it seems like Lenovo will not offer a tethered version of the ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II. Instead, the new keyboard relies on Bluetooth 5.0 or an optional 2.4 GHz WiFi connection (with USB adapter). The keyboard supports up to two devices at the same time and it also supports Microsoft SwiftPair.
As this is a wireless keyboard, it contains an internal battery. According to Lenovo, it should last two months on a single charge. The keyboard is charged via USB C, which replaces the Micro USB port used on the old ThinkPad Compact keyboard.
The ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II will be available worldwide in May 2020. It will cost $99.
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