Some laptop owners may, at some point, experience an issue with the machine's keyboard. Common problems include broken keys, sticking keys, letters that don't respond when pushed, or a key that has detached itself and been lost. Laptop keyboards come in a number of different styles and designs depending on the manufacturer and model of the computer. In addition to the various keyboard designs, there are a number of ways that keyboards on laptops are held into place, which at times can make the prospect of replacing the laptop keyboard seem a daunting one.
Understanding the different types of keyboard with which laptops are equipped and the most common methods of laptop keyboard replacement is helpful for consumers who experience keyboard failures: and most do, at one time or another. One can purchase laptop keyboards directly from most computer manufacturers, some computer stores, specialty computer outlets that also specialise in laptop repair, or from used computer vendors. Sellers on eBay also offer a wide variety of both new and used laptop keyboards.
Styles of Laptop Keyboards
Laptop keyboards are available in different configurations depending on the size of the laptop as well as the make and model of the machine. This decision is made at the time the laptop is purchased: because of the structure of laptops, different interchangeable keyboards are not an option as with desktop models. Some laptops are designed to be placed in a docking station that allows for use of a conventional keyboard and mouse when sitting at a desk. A docking station that can accommodate a wireless mouse and keyboard provides the user additional flexibility. Using a docking station allows the operator the option of selecting a full-sized keyboard of any configuration they are comfortable with. The common laptop keyboard designs are listed below.
Condensed Laptop Keyboard
The original design of the laptop keyboard consisted of including as many keys as possible from the conventional 101 standard computer keyboard layout. Because of the reduced space available on the laptop, the numeric keypad on the right was eliminated or merged into a hidden layout where letter keys doubled as numeric keys when the 'num lock' feature was engaged. This condensed laptop keyboard design is still common on most 33-cm (13-in) to 35.5-cm (14-in) width laptops. The letter keys, although condensed closer together, still maintained the standard QWERTY design.
Standard 101 Keyboard
The standard 101 keyboard or IBM design layout is incorporated into some of the newer-style, wider carriage laptops that are from 38 cm (15 in) to just over 43 cm (17 in) wide. This standard design has the numeric keypad located in its normal position of the right side of the keyboard. On the 43-cm models, key spacing is slightly separated, while on the 38-cm models the keys are somewhat smaller or more closely positioned to each other.
Windows 104 Keyboard
When Microsoft introduced the 104-key design, the difference from the standard 101 IBM keyword was the addition of two Windows keys, one on each side of the space key, and a context menu key on the right side of the space bar. Laptop designs incorporated the Windows features by reducing the size of the Ctrl and Alt keys and usually including only one of the Windows keys that brought up the start menu.
IBM laptops offered a distinct design feature that is seldom found on other laptop designs. The little red button in the centre of the keyboard was called TrackPoint. TrackPoint was essentially a pointing stick and it functioned similar to a mouse. By pressing the TrackPoint button and moving it left or right, the cursor moves as if being directed by a mouse. Laptops from Lenovo, which obtained IBM's personal computer division in 1995, still occasionally feature the TrackPoint keyboard design. The point stick concept was loved by some and hated by many; most laptop designers moved on to the familiar touch pad, where a finger traced across the pad controls the cursor. Push keys positioned next to the touch pad can be set to act in the same manner as the left and right mouse buttons.
Some newer model touch screen tablets can function similar to a laptop with the addition of a detachable keyboard. These detachable keyboards can made of flexible materials that fold or roll up as well as a more sturdily designed clip-in model that offers support for the tablet screen. Detachable keyboards are more susceptible to damage than are laptop keyboards that are surrounded by a hard plastic case. Detachable keyboards are easy to replace, however: just discard and purchase another one.
Unique Designs of European Keyboards
Some laptop keyboards offer a unique letter placement design format that is more closely associated with a particular language. The design is usually identified with the first six letters on the left of the top alpha row of the keyboard. The following chart explains the common European keyboard designs in contrast with the standard QWERTY layout.
The UK, Scandinavia, and Spain
The most common English language design and the standard keyboard layout
Germany and the Slovakian countries
Essentially the same as the standard keyboard layout with the position of the Y and Z keys interchanged
Keys are laid out in a manner conducive to the French language
While the three most common keyboard designs are the most often used layouts there are several variations to the keyboard that appear in various regions with language diversities. Keyboard layout differences relate to the frequency of letter usage specific to the language they are designed for.
Laptop Keyboard Replacement
The manner in which a laptop keyboard is replaced is dependent on the design of the laptop itself. Some laptops require the disassembly of the unit, while other replacements are simpler to carry out. Consumers unsure whether they have the skill to successfully replace the laptop keyboard may be better served to enlist a professional technician to perform the repair. Damaging a part of the laptop case or internal components of the unit may render the laptop unusable.
Consumers intent on replacing the keyboard themselves should consult the laptop's user manual for instructions on keyboard removal. If the subject is not covered in the manual, it is often possible to download instructions from the laptop manufacturer's website. Keyboard replacement that involves the removal of the laptop case may require a certain amount of technical expertise to properly disassemble and reassemble the unit. The following are three of the most common methods of laptop keyboard replacement. When replacing the keyboard there is a connection to the motherboard that must be undone, allowing the release of the old keyboard and reconnecting to the new keyboard.
Clip Secured Keyboards
Laptops that have keyboards held into place by clips are the easiest to replace. No disassembly of the case is required, and the keyboard lifts out of the top the laptop base and pops back into place. Using a small, flat tool like a thin-bladed screwdriver, one can release the clips that hold the keyboard so that the entire assembly can be lifted out. In the process, one should take care not to damage or break the clips, which could cause the keyboard to not function properly.
Removable Keyboard Housings
On some models of laptops, the top surface of the case separates from the bottom portion of the assembly by way of clips or screws. In such units, once the top of the case is removed, the keyboard generally just lifts out; however, it also may be held in place by a clip or screws under the top cover.
Keyboards Secured by Screws
If the keyboard is held in place by screws, they are generally accessed by taking off the bottom cover of the laptop. The screws will likely be identified with a graphic or some other type of indicator. When the screws are removed, the keyboard loosens and easily lifts off.
How to Buy Laptop Keyboards on eBay
Buyers looking to purchase a laptop keyboard should consider shopping the eBay online marketplace for the make and model keyboard they need. The convenience of shopping online with the click of a mouse and having your purchase shipped directly to your home or office is why millions of people look to eBay to save time and money. Locating parts for a laptop on eBay is easy when you use keywords such as 'Acer laptop keyboard'; narrow the search by including the model with the keywords typed into any search bar.
Buyers can purchase with confidence by reviewing the feedback ratings of the sellers offering the exact part they are looking for. Previous buyers rate the quality of the transaction and the manner in which a specific seller handled the sale of the merchandise. This feedback information is published for every seller on eBay. Completing the transaction on eBay by paying for the purchase with PayPal assures both the buyer and the seller of a safe and secure transfer of funds.
A laptop keyboard failing to respond properly is a frustrating experience for the user, who is left making futile attempts to type out text. While occasionally cleaning the keyboard of a laptop computer helps to get sticking keys working again, there is nothing that will fix a component failure where the keyboard is not communicating with the motherboard. If replacing the keyboard is required, the first thing consumers need to do is find a compatible replacement keyboard and then make a determination as to whether they intend to replace the assembly themselves or contract a computer technician to perform the repair.
Understanding the different types of keyboards available on the market helps consumers select the proper keyboard for their needs. Determining how the keyboard is removed from the laptop can help consumers determine if they have the skill set to perform the keyboard replacement. A well-functioning keyboard is an essential part of any laptop or desktop computer.