Review: Lenovo Ultraslim Wireless Keyboard & Mouse

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Lenovo makes the only laptops my wife will let me buy, and I’m a big fan of Lenovo’s rugged, high-performance computers and accessories in general. In particular, I love the keyboards on my ThinkPads. I have never found a desktop keyboard I like using as much, because the ThinkPad’s keys always seem to be in just the right places with just the right feel and feedback.

That’s why I’m a little surprised to find that I’m not taking to my new Lenovo keyboard and mouse, the wireless Ultraslim Plus.

Feel and feedback

If you are a fast typist, you know how important it is to have a good keyboard. For me, the keys are critical. You need keys that “click” into place to let your fingers know they can move on. It’s that “clickiness” that makes a keyboard easy to type on—or not. Many keyboards are just soft and mushy, and don’t give enough positive feedback. The ThinkPad keyboard gives exceptional feedback. So do the Apple keyboards—I use one with my iPad when I am writing at home.

The Lenovo keyboard, on the other hand, is rather mushy. I’ve made a ton of mistakes in typing this review and while working on some documents for a client I’m meeting with this morning. It doesn’t usually take me long to adjust to a new keyboard, but I can’t quite get the hang of this one, and I attribute that to the vague feel of these keys.

In fact, screw it. I’m switching back to my old keyboard.

Design and construction

Nicer keyboards (with nicer keys) are generally festooned with multimedia keys, LCD readouts, and blinking lights. Only Apple resists the urge to treat its high-end (well, only-end) keyboards like Christmas trees. That’s why I was drawn to the Lenovo keyboard. There’s nothing extra on it. The function keys are a bit small, but that seems to be the trend, these days. Yeah, it’s less expensive, but I thought it might have the great keys I’m used to on my ThinkPad.

And that’s true, except for the keys. The design, fit, and finish of the keyboard are all great, actually—typical Lenovo quality.

The mouse, on the other hand, is just too small. It’s well built, and the buttons feel great, but using it feels like using a tiny portable mouse. I prefer a mouse that fills my hand. In fact, one of my favorites is Microsoft’s “meatball mouse,” the Wireless Comfort 6000. This Lenovo mouse feels like it was designed for my two-year-old.

Alternatives

If, like me, you love the ThinkPad keyboard, you can actually just get that. I’m not going to, because I don’t really want the trackpad and pointing stick. In the middle of writing this post, I switched back to my Microsoft Wireless Comfort 500 keyboard and mouse. The keyboard is still full of extra keys, but it’s fairly reserved, considering, and the keys feel great to type on.

I’m also considering just getting the Apple wired keyboard and using it with Windows. If it works, it would be the best of both worlds.

As for the Lenovo keyboard? I think I’m sending it back.

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  • Michael Idoyaga

    No Lenovo for me, thanks. I’m Mac all the way.

    • Did you even read the article, or do you just post “I’m Mac all the way” on every product review you encounter?

  • Dan

    Good review, thank you. I’ve used that keyboard before and I know what you mean.

    I just bought and am currently typing on my awesome new Lenovo Ideapad u300s, Ultrabook laptop which has a really great keyboard (considering how thin it is). Very happy with it btw.

    …Lenovo definitely has the skills and experience for the perfect setup, they just skimped on this particular wireless keyboard.

  • Karin

    Daskeyboard. Not cheap and not wireless, but if you like the crisp feel, clear sound, superior speed, and near-indestructibility of a mechanical keyboard, this is it. I’ve logged many pages on it since the beginning of the year and I’d rate it up with the ScanSnap 1500 as one of my best tech purchases ever. Love love love: http://www.daskeyboard.com

    • devdanke

      @Karin: If you want a keyboard with traditional ThinkPad feel and wired is OK, then get the “ThinkPad USB Keyboard” ~$60. No need to bother with the expensive Das Keyboard.

      But wired is so last century. I wish Lenovo made a wireless version of the ThinPad Keyboard.

      @Sam: If you get a chance to try the redesigned keyboard on the new 2012 ThinkPads, I for one would like to hear your opinion.

  • I am now happily typing away on an Apple wired keyboard in Windows. This AutoHotKey script helps tweak it, if you care, but it’s good-to-go right out of the box. The only trouble I’m having is due to my using an Apple keyboard on my iPad, which has conditioned me to use the keys in Apple-y ways.

    If you want a cheap, sleek keyboard to use with Windows, this is a surprisingly good option.

  • Brandon

    Quick comments re: other keyboards / mice:

    I’ve been working with my Microsoft Digital Media Keyboard 3000 for over half a decade now, even bringing it from my last job to this one. It’s a wired keyboard, but I believe Microsoft makes a wireless version of this low profile workhorse. I type at ~85wpm on a good day and the feel of this keyboard is pretty spot on. I do use some of the multimedia buttons (zoom, calculator, volume, play/stop, &tc.), but this keyboard isn’t overly cluttered by them, nor are any supplemental lights or LCD screens.

    My new office had purchased me a really nice Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse set with the LCD, fancy everything, &tc., but I quickly switched back to this old standard with a Logitech V220 wireless mouse.

    • I’m amazed you can still use it. I’ve found that most non-mechanical keyboards wear out after a few years—although I do tend to be hard on my keyboards.

  • iqbal

    I wish I read your review before I ordered this keyboard. I have the new thinkpad x230 and I love the new “precision” keyboard redesign, from the lenovo.com picture this ultraslim plus keyboard looks identical to what I have on my x230…so I am a little confused.

    To those whom do not like this keyboard, I pose this question:

    do you like the new “precision” keyboard on the new line of thinkpads?

    • iqbal

      ************UPDATE**********

      I was initially correct. I received this laptop about 20 minutes ago and I can confirm this keyboard is “almost” identical to the new precision keyboards found on all new thinkpads, the only difference is that ABS plastic material (I think) was used in the construction of this keyboard.

      The only negative is that the included mouse although of high quality, is a little on the small side. It seems this included mouse was intended for use with laptops not desktop systems. It works and feels great though, very good tactile feedback on mouse clicks.

      An easy way to put it would be: if you like the new thinkpad keyboards, you’ll like this keyboard. True its different from the old thinkpad keyboard layout but it works and feels great

      • Dan

        X230 looks pretty great, but the X1 Carbon looks to be Amazing. With the precision keyboard and a large custom glass trackpad.

        • iqbal

          whoops…I meant to say “I received this keyboard about 20 minutes ago. my bad.

          I’ve had the x230 for about 2 months now and I love it, the carbon x1 definitely looks better and has a much better trackpad but unfortunately its only available with a ULV processor which doesn’t provide adequate processing power many important applications need to run properly.

          Its impressive boot time and write speed is due only to its ssd drive, without it, the x1 would be slower than a snail stuck in tar

      • You mean the feel/action of the keys is the same on your ThinkPad and this keyboard?

        • iqbal

          yea sorry i made a typo, i made it sound like I was talking about my laptop but i was really talking about this ultraslim plus keyboard. the action and tactile feedback is exactly(strong word) the same as with my thinkpad x230 however the feel is slightly different because the construction material is different but definitely not in a bad way.

          i think a lot of people dislike this keyboard because it is not the old traditional thinkpad keyboard everyone is accustomed to

          • I don’t just dislike it; this keyboard is the worst I have ever used. The action is mushy and vague — it doesn’t work well at all. If this is what using a ThinkPad feels like, now, I will never buy another.

            • iqbal

              hmm…i think your hatred for this keyboard is rooted in the construction material lenovo used, i believe its ABS or composite plastic but I don’t know this for fact. this plastic has a sort of “heavy” feel which could give soft or rubbery response while the acrylic plastics used in thinkpads have a more glass like feel and gives a more clicky response (including the new thinkpads) . i don’t think you should discount the new thinkpads, they’re definitely a big change from the traditional keyboard but they’re still the best laptops around.

              btw great website, found it on google search while looking for reviews for this keyboard

              • No, it isn’t the material of the keys, it is the action. ThinkPad keys have always had a nice, positive click. This wireless keyboard is all mush.

                • Dan

                  I’ve used the wireless keyboard and I agree with Sam… it’s pretty disappointing. I’m not sure if my U300s has the same “precision” keyboard or not, but I can tell you for certain that my laptop keyboard is 10 times better than the wireless Lenovo keyboard. I have more travel and a more defined click. The keyboard reviews were the number one reason I purchased this laptop.

                  …so Hopefully the highly rated “Precision” keyboard in the latest line of Thinkpads is different and better. Don’t give up on ’em Sam!

          • I just opened up an X1 Carbon, and the keyboard on it is nothing like the UltraSlim Plus I reviewed in this article. ThinkPad fans, rest assured. The keyboards are still awesome.

  • Dan

    Don’t doubt the ULV processors… I have the Lenovo Ideapad U300s with 256gb SSD and core i7 ULV and this thing Screams speed.

    The latest two generations of Intel’s ULV processors overclock their speed according to the task required, the fan speed, heat, and to save battery. The current ULV core i7 is rated 1.9 ghz and overclocks to 3.0 ghz. That paired with the Intel HD4000 integrated graphics is actually quite powerful.

    • iqbal

      I totally understand wehere you’re coming from. the only reason I doubt the ULVs is because of my experience with every ULV laptop I’ve owned. I’ll give you an example of the best one I had:

      I’ve owned the new 5th generation MacBook air (2.0 GHz core i7 with turbo boost 3.2 GHz 256gb Samsung ssd and 4gb ram) running win7 pro…although boot time and opening applications were relatively fast, the actual use of programs was not so fast. visual studio would take forever to compile and process programs & scripts. Xilinx software almost never worked properly, I would constantly have to quit out of outlook or any background app that may have been running simultaneously because it was taking precious limited processing power.

      Remember this is the newest MacBook air with the newest top of the line ivy bridge microprocessor running pure windows 7 professional (with no bloat ware or junk software).

      I’ve also owned the older 4th generation MacBook air and sony vaio y-series but I won’t get into that.

      • Dan

        Glad to see you’re up to speed on the ULV technology… my apologies for underestimating your knowledge. And I’m sorry to hear about the MBA performance… did you have the SSD formatted NTFS or FAT32? Anyway, glad to hear you have the x230 and it’s working well for you!

  • Lennart

    Hi Sam,

    I fully agree with your review. I’ve had the keyboard for quite a while now, and in a fit of frustration just searched for reviews of it to ascertain that it is indeed a worthless piece of junk. I like the mouse, though.Plugging in my (wired) Logitech Y-U0004 now. Ah, the joy of fast, error-free typing! :-) I’ll never buy a keyboard again without checking the reviews first.