Reader’s Choice: Which Notebook Brand Has The Best Keyboards and Touchpads?

Last week we revealed our picks for the Best & Worst Laptop Brands based on months of extensive research, pages of reviews and third-party data. We took reader comments into account, too, but we wondered what would happen if we put you in charge of the grading.

Apple won the last round: Design. None of the other brands came close, though Sony, ASUS and Toshiba scored high as well. Will popular opinion stay with Apple through the next round?

The Battle of the Brands continues this week :

Round 2: Keyboards and Touchpads

The methods for navigation and input on a laptop are such a large part of the user experience, and in our evaluation we decided these hardware components deserved a score separate from the brand’s overall approach to design. We judged the look, feel, size, accuracy, and responsiveness of the touchpads and keyboards and determined that Lenovo deserved top honors here.

Lenovo makes our favorite keyboard, with excellent response and zero flex. The new ThinkPad Edge series may offer less traditional chiclet-style layouts, but the typing experience remains stellar (and it’s spill-resistant to boot). The ThinkPad line includes an extra mode of input: the ever popular TrackPoint. It helps users keep their hands on the home row, while still offering an accurate and speedy navigation option. Additionally, the touchpads and mouse buttons on Lenovo notebooks are generally well-sized, and the pads exhibit little friction.

Apple comes in a close second because of their eminently usable backlit keyboards and luxurious glass multitouch touchpads with integrated mouse buttons that actually work. Also coming in at the top of the curve: Toshiba. The keyboard and touchpad combo on the company's netbooks are one of the best we've ever used. Plus, most other Toshiba systems are ergonomically sound, with good size and responsiveness when it comes to input methods.

HP, Dell and Fujitsu all scored just 8 out of 15 points in our evaluation. For Dell and HP, the finicky or almost unusable touchpads undeniably brought their scores down the most. On consumer HP systems, touchpads with integrated buttons sometimes failed to register a click or caused the pointer to jump. The same can be said for Dell. Though both companies get props for trying an Apple-esque approach to touchpads, the execution needs a lot of improvement.

Click here to read full evaluations of each brand’s keyboards and touchpads, including the ones who earned mid-range grades.

Now it’s your turn. How would you rank the input methods of the brands below? Vote in the poll then tell us in the comments who you’d award top honors to and why.

The poll is now closed. Click here to see the victor.