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.