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Thread: why does laptop manufacturers swap the function keys with non-vital keys?

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    Platinum Member SilverNodashi's Avatar
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    why does laptop manufacturers swap the function keys with non-vital keys?

    Does any one know why laptop manufacturers swap the function keys (F1 - F12) on top with non-vital laptop keys?

    I noticed it a while ago on my friend's new Dell laptop, and now on my wife's new Lenovo as well. It's rather annoying, when you try and close a program you can't just press Alt+F4, but rather FN+Alt+F4 - which doesn't always work that well either.

    anyhow, I'm just curious as to why they did this......
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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    I think people that use function keys are in a minority nowadays, same as people that run scripts from command line or a bash shell. Windows has tried to take that level of control from the computer user and force you to use the GUI. If you use F keys and commandline then Windows doesn't get the chance to ask you three or four times if you really want to do whatever it is you're doing.
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    Platinum Member SilverNodashi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyD View Post
    I think people that use function keys are in a minority nowadays, same as people that run scripts from command line or a bash shell. Windows has tried to take that level of control from the computer user and force you to use the GUI. If you use F keys and commandline then Windows doesn't get the chance to ask you three or four times if you really want to do whatever it is you're doing.
    Andy, do you really change your volume, screen brightness, wireless network (on or off), mic (on or off) "that much", that you need it as a shortcut key?

    And do you really think people don't use the function keys anymore? Ask your accountant or typist, and you'll be amazed at the results
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    Diamond Member tec0's Avatar
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    Well it is just lazy design. The alternative function like “Screen brightness, volume to name a few” is not always in use. The F1 to F12 keys is used by most programs even today regardless of the mouse takeover. I personally am not mouse dependable.

    Still it comes down to lazy design there is more than enough space to add extra buttons eliminating the need for the big “Fn” to start with.

    As for my “Run command” and CMD I cannot function without them...
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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoftDux-Rudi View Post
    Andy, do you really change your volume, screen brightness, wireless network (on or off), mic (on or off) "that much", that you need it as a shortcut key?

    And do you really think people don't use the function keys anymore? Ask your accountant or typist, and you'll be amazed at the results
    I use keyboard shortcut combinations on my own pc's and laptop for those adjustments you mentioned but the problem is they're different on every machine dependent on the drivers and hardware so I might use a dedicated key if it was an unfamiliar laptop and there was one there. I don't however think they should dump the function keys to make way for dedicated device keys, I agree there arestill many people around that use the F keys but they're getting fewer and fewer.
    Last edited by AndyD; 11-Aug-10 at 02:40 PM.
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    Platinum Member SilverNodashi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tec0 View Post
    Well it is just lazy design. The alternative function like “Screen brightness, volume to name a few” is not always in use. The F1 to F12 keys is used by most programs even today regardless of the mouse takeover. I personally am not mouse dependable.

    Still it comes down to lazy design there is more than enough space to add extra buttons eliminating the need for the big “Fn” to start with.

    As for my “Run command” and CMD I cannot function without them...
    I'm with you on that one, which is why I raised the question But then again I sometimes get the feeling that laptops aint designed for the end user, but rather to stroke the designer ego.
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    Diamond Member tec0's Avatar
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    I think a true techie will always place function above design because limited function and a pretty face will only get you so far. Maybe a simple bios fix or driver fix can allow the user to set up the FN button for device controls or the F-keys. That will be a help I think...
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    It's probably some trivial bottleneck like the keyboard management chip.

    Early laptops had serious space and power management issues. You'll probably find the conventions adopted then to solve the challenges have become institutionalised somehow.
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    Gold Member irneb's Avatar
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    I'm also of the opinion it's due to space requirements. They're trying to give you all the functions available on a 150+ key multimedia keyboard, but using a condensed 80 something key "squashed" keyboard (especially with notebooks, which usually don't even have a number pad).

    That said, some use a function altering key which you have to hold down to use the "special" functions. Others have the "special" functions turned on by default. IMO, the former works better in general. There might be a way of altering the default through BIOS, but that differs between manufacturers / models.
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