The Keyboard

Continuing on our Framework Laptop Deep Dive series, today we’re sharing how we built a great feeling backlit keyboard that delivers on our mission of repairability and customization. In the pursuit of thinness over the last few years, the notebook industry has sacrificed keyboard quality. This has been through reducing key travel, which is the distance a key moves when pressed. Longer travel delivers better tactile feel, but takes up more physical space. While most compact notebooks have shrunk to between 0.8mm and 1.2mm key travel, we’ve chosen a better balance of 1.5mm to deliver excellent feel while keeping the system thin and light.

We’ve worked with Lite-On, our manufacturing partner for the keyboard, to also reduce the noise and resonance of key presses. Those of us who are fans of clicky clacky keys will keep using external mechanical keyboards at our desks, but our co-workers, family members, and innocent bystanders in coffee shops will appreciate the quietness built into the Framework Laptop.

We’ve designed our input devices to be as serviceable and upgradeable as the rest of the Framework Laptop. Most other notebooks have the keyboard welded into the housing, meaning something as small as a single key breaking requires an expensive repair that replaces a large part of the system. Our keyboard is held in with fasteners that can be removed with the screwdriver we include in-box, making it an inexpensive repair if ever needed. We’ll be offering both individual keyboards and full Input Covers as replacement parts in the Framework Marketplace.

Replaceability of the keyboard also opens up options for deep customization. The language and layout on your Framework Laptop can be swapped at any time and is configurable at order time on the DIY Edition. We’re currently preparing US English, UK English, International English, French, French Canadian, Korean, Chinese Pinyin, Chinese Traditional, Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, Latin American, and Dutch Belgian keyboards. A subset of those will be available at pre-order time, with additional coming online throughout the year. We’ll continue to scale the options to cover the most common languages first and eventually every language that a keyboard layout exists for, including ones that have never previously been built into a laptop. We’d love to hear your feedback on which languages and layouts would be most interesting to you.

We’re also launching with two special edition keyboards with no language at all. One is a fully stealthed out matte black keyboard, and the other is a unique crystal clear keyboard that allows the backlight to shine through.

With the future of work more mobile than ever, we’re happy to bring great keyboards back into laptops, and we’re looking forward to seeing what you think of them!

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If you were to provide a keyboard with the TrackPoint (red nubby on laptops) and top of trackpad buttons. I’d never go ThinkPad again :slight_smile:

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:slight_smile: The nub is probably not possible mechanically on this one (it’s amazing how tightly everything needs to be packed to make a thin, high performance laptop work), but tbd on trackpad buttons!

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I’m really interested in the keyboard’s footprint/measurements. Ideally, I’d like to try to make a custom PCB in the same footprint using Kailh Choc low-profile mechanical switches but depending on the space available this may not be possible.

When might those measurements be available? Even just knowing the vertical measurement would be enough to know if this sort of mod will be possible.

The full height of the keyboard module from the bottom of the backlight to the top of the keycap is 3.8mm. It would be super challenging to develop a replacement keyboard, but if anyone can pull it off, I’d love to see it!

Oof, okay yeah I don’t think I’ll be able to pull it off. The switches alone (not including caps height) are ~8mm in height.

I’m still holding onto a smidgen of hope because I’d love to make it work somehow but probably not going to be possible haha.

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Hey there framework community.

Before everything, I just wanted to say that I support 100% this amazing idea that you people had, giving us, the community, a DIY notebook solution. Huge congratz on that. Keep up the great work.

Now on to the point, I noticed saying that most notebooks have the keyboard welded into the housing.

I serviced a lot of notebooks like Dell, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Acer, have replaceble keyboards aswell. I was curious what did you mean by “requires an expensive repair that replaces a large part of the system”.

Again I don’t want to sound weird just curios about the difference.

Keep up the great work.

Most notebooks have the keyboard welded or heat staked into the enclosure, meaning that section of the enclosure needs to be replaced in order to fix the keyboard. Even for brands that historically often used fasteners for their keyboards, most of their new models have welded keyboards.

I see, so you are saying that every key can be replaced? Am I understanding it corectly?

Trackpoint is actually what keeps me of as well. 1,8-2 mm key travel would be nice but not a deal breaker. Please do get a couple of spare thinkpad keyboards and dissect them, maybe there is a way. I’m sure many thinkpad fans would consider the framework laptop if it had a Trackpoint. Best of luck with your project!

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On the Framework Laptop, the keyboard can be replaced without needing to replace any of the enclosure parts, which makes that repair substantially cheaper and less wasteful.

Just to let you folks on the team know - I do not mind thicc laptops. Feel free to develop an all AMD Thiccwork Laptop with full travel mechanical switches.

  • AMD
  • Mechanical Switches (full MX style)
  • 3:2 display round 13.5-14"
  • Large multitouch trackpad
  • An array of a bunch of 18650 LiFePO4 battery cells like the MNT Reform laptop
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This.

I would love to see a nub too. This is definitely a game changer for me when I’m working in a bus, car, train or plane.

Also, a 7-row keyboard would be amazing, like we had on IBM ThinkPads back in the days or like we have on decent external keyboards. I really really don’t like the fact that function keys are mixed with multimedia/device keys.

Louis Rossmann made a great video explaining all this way better than me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sq3jvp1xgOU

Please consider his comments since many people share the same views and were very disappointed by Lenovo. The professional community is desperately in need for a good functional laptop.

I would pay an extra $400 for a 7-row-including-a-nub keyboard. $500 if you add the brand new Cherry low profile mechanical keys: https://www.cherrymx.de/en/blog/cherry-mx-ultra-low-profile.html

Maybe you could make 2 products: a classic one and a professional one, as Louis Rossmann suggests in the video.

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It’s great to see keyboard options. I’ll be the lone Colemak user here begging for a Colemak layout…(Dvorak people need love too) Until that happens I’ll probably just go with the blank keys, which will keep those pesky qwerty users off my laptop.

Idea: supply some sort of decals with the blank keyboard so one can customise as one pleases.

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I use a cover for my keyboard that gives me Cyrillic letters. See the pic.

Can I get a keyboard (or something with the key surfaces only) for other alphabets?

Will there be a keyboard cover available? I always have a keyboard cover to keep crumbs and light spills from entering via the keyboard.

Great work Framework team. I think a lot of the concern about keyboards today are born from the relative difficulty of repairing or replacing them easily. If the repair of laptop components was easier then I believe a lot of these concerns would disappear.

I’m a big Thinkpad fan myself, who has had to watch the Thinkpad slowly decline. I recognize the hurdle that a nub pointer both from the engineering required but also the legalities that would need to be navigated just make this request an unnecessary initial hurdle to scale, at least initially. If the trackpad is good and the keyboard as well, I’m good.

Really looking forward to the opening of pre-orders and seeing how we can spec these out.

64gb on a 13" laptop is pretty unheard of. I know of only one other company offering it, but has, as of yet, not shipped it.

The true reparability of the framework laptop is the real draw. It has always bothered me how much waste goes on in the laptop industry. People will junk a whole machine because the display goes out.

Being able to upgrade the mainboard easily will be amazing if we can see it come to fruition!

Keep up the great work!

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I just want to chime in that I would also pay hundreds extra for a Trackpoint. The ergonomics are far superior, your fingers can stay on homerow while using the mouse, plus it saves a ton of space.

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Not sure it it has been said anywhere, but will the keyboard be programmable (at the firmware level)?

Also, another vote for colemak. Finally, would an ortholinear keyboard be possible?

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ah ortholiear keyboard somilar to the planck 48 key woujd be my ideal combined with programability

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