8.9-inch Netbook Keyboards: Acer vs. Asus – More Than Just Screen Size

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Asus Eee PC T91MT (left) – Acer Aspire One (right)

I really wanted to take my Asus Eee PC T91MT touch screen netbook with me on my trip to Seattle last week. However, its awful keyboard was the deciding factor to leave it behind. Instead I took an Asus Eee PC 1000HA which has a 10.1-inch display and a very good keyboard (for a netbook).

So, why is the Eee PC T91MT’s keyboard so bad? Are all 8.9-inch netbook keyboards bad because they are too small? The answer is clearly “no” since my first netbook (the first generation Acer Aspire One) has an 8.9-inch screen and a very good keyboard. After returning home this past weekend, I finally got around to taking a side-by-side look at the Acer Aspire One and Eee PC T91MT keyboards. It became obvious why type-ability is so different on the two 8.9-inch netbooks after taking a single look. The photo above gives you an idea of what I saw. The Aspire One chassis is physically wider than the T91MT. This allows the Aspire One to have larger keys and better spacing.

I may need use techniques I developed for working with the old and usually even smaller Handheld PC keyboards. A six-finger (thumbs, index fingers, & middle fingers) technique generally worked well with those devices. It will be interesting to see what typing will be like on the Apple iPad’s on-screen keyboard.