A little less than a month ago, I received what will go down as one of most useful comments on this blog thus far, regarding the Dell XPS M1330’s keyboard. Essentially it sucks in comparison to the exact same form factor keyboard found on the Vostro. After conversing through email with the gentleman who left the comment, I hit up eBay, PayPal in hand, to purchase a new keyboard for my M1330.
I received the keyboard (part# JM629) earlier this week and installed it yesterday. Wow. The difference is unbelievable. My perception of the sturdiness of the laptop has increased immensely. The vast difference makes me wonder why Dell isn’t installing this type of keyboard by default.
There were several problems associated with the stock M1330 keyboard. Due to the thin and flimsy backing, the keyboard flexed quite a bit and exhibited a hefty bulge in the middle. The keys were rattly and generally made the laptop feel far less well-built than is actually is.
You can see the bulge in the keyboard, near the power button
A comparison of the two keyboards shows that the new keyboard uses an inflexible metal backing that provides a lot more support for typing – no flex at all. Because the keyboard doesn’t flex, the bulge has also disappeared. Keystrokes feel far, far better than before and there’s no more rattling that sounds like the keyboard’s about to fall out the bottom of the laptop. If you buy a replacement, make sure it’s of the solid back type, not the same as the one you’re removing from your M1330.
Furthermore, I’m quite taken with the black instead of silver. The black keyboard now flows from the bezel and touch media controls. The black color no longer feels like an afterthought when opening the laptop, but an integral part of the design. You decide for yourself. Here’s a photo of the M1330 with lthe new keyboard installed.
Replacing the keyboard’s straightforward. Take out the battery and remove the two screws beneath the battery that hold down the media control panel. Then, flip the laptop over and remove the two little covers at the top left and right of the keyboard. Then with a bit of force, remove the media controls. I found it easiest to pull up from the middle of the panel, which will disengage the little clips that hold it down. Then there are two more screws at the top of the keyboard to remove. The keyboard is attached through a ribbon connector that flips up to allow the cable’s removal. Install the new keyboard’s ribbon cable and clamp down the connector. Replace the screws and media panel and you’re done!
Moral of the story? If the stock keyboard feels a bit lacking, grab yourself a Vostro 1400 keyboard and replace it.