This apparently isn’t anywhere on Google, and therefore, the internet–I know, I checked for about a month, both English and Chinese interwebs. Generous soul that I am, I will offer the fruit of my labor for the low low price of listening to me rant. You could, of course, just skip down, but that would vex me greatly. Karma and all that.
About four weeks ago, I spilled a contact lens container full of contact solution (imagine that) onto my laptop keyboard, Lenovo Ideapad Y510. I’m guessing the salinity of the solution hastened the death of the keyboard, because there was very little liquid. After drying for 2 days, 5 keys of my keyboard were dead. Problem: 4 of them were vowels. Replacement time.
I’ll spare you the details of customer service calls. This is what I’ve learned:
1. Lenovo charges $175 to replace this particular keyboard. They don’t tell you the price beforehand, but tell you to mail in the keyboard (at least that’s free), and they will look at it. If you choose not to fix it, they mail it back free.
2. There is no FRU # for the keyboard, which is used to buy replacement parts. All other laptop keyboards (and other parts), including Lenovo/IBM Thinkpads, have FRUs.
3. There is a Part # for the keyboard, but this is useless without a FRU, and and furthermore, after calling Lenovo the Part # for the keyboard they gave me did not match the one on the back of my keyboard.
4. This LAPTOP (Y510) does not have a model number. It has a “model name”, 15303, but that is not a model number, and cannot be used to even identity the laptop you have. One parts supply store suggested that I had a counterfeit computer.
5. This keyboard is NOT the same one as the Chinese Lenovo Ideapad Y510.
6. Lenovo’s warranty center customer support is in no way related to the people who actually fix your computer. This is, presumably, to avoid any responsibility for answering your questions, as “the tech people have knowledge of that”. Alas, the tech people apparently do not have a phone number. There was no timetable for releasing the FRU. There was no timetable for release of the keyboard for purchase, even from Lenovo itself (which sells all Thinkpad replacement keyboards).
Needless to say, this keyboard does not exist, except in Lenovo’s warranty center. The reason I was given for Lenovo not offering replacement keyboards from its own warehouse or from 3rd party warehouses, (paraphrasing): “Lenovo wants to protect customers from damaging their computers by doing the specialized repairs in house.”
It takes 2 minutes to replace this keyboard. No screws. One cable. You can wedge out the keyboard protector (top part that looks like a music scale, including touch buttons) with a phillips screwdriver in as little as 3 strokes.
How do I know? Because my laptop came back to me with 3 large scratches at the 3 places where the technician had pried open my keyboard. Now, I realize these guys aren’t exactly operating with the precision of brain surgeons, but, given their “specialized” knowledge, shouldn’t they have an easier time (read: less damaging method) of taking out the keyboard than me?
The keyboard damage was my fault, and therefore the consequences of the damage are mine to take. Fair enough. However, the punishment must fit the crime.
Pay for a replacement keyboard and install it myself. $50-80 + 2 days shipping time = Fine.
Pay for a replacement keyboard, with installation from Lenovo. $50-80 + labor cost for TWO minutes, a generous $20 + 1 week and a half shipping time = Eh. Alright.
Not be told upfront price of replacement, not be told that the keyboard, unequivocally, is a mythical creature, not being given if or when keyboard available nor compatible models, + 1 week and a half of shipping time, + 1 month of searching = Piss Poor.
The point is, if this laptop had been NOT a Y510, even a Thinkpad, it would have been AT MOST $80 and 3 days to fix. Instead you will get runaround and an Enron-shaming $150 (500%) markup–I’m assuming they pay $30 for the part that I got for $40. Again, me being generous.
The computer is great. The support is trash.
1. The EXACT model keyboard is for the F41 Lenovo N100 sold exclusively in…China! If you want to get that, you’ll have to bid for it on Chinese eBays, and try to get them to ship internationally. If they won’t, you’ll have to find a friend to bring it back for you. It will cost anywhere from 140-280 RMB (I’m using convenient numbers here, due to exchange rate), or about $20 to $40. Imagine that someone is selling it for $20 and making a profit, so what is Lenovo getting it for? Anyways…
2a. If you have (1) rudimentary hand-eye coordination and (2) hands, you can replace the Y510 keyboard with a number of keyboards using FRU 42T3338 (one in picture). I am using this keyboard as we speak. This keyboard is compatible with the Lenovo C100, C200, N100, N200, V100 (!!) You can google those for the lowest price, but 42T3338 is what I am using, as it was the lowest I found at the time ($50 with shipping).
2b. The downside to buying a compatible (but not exact) keyboard is purely cosmetic–keyboard mapping is controlled by software. This means that some keys will say one thing and do another on your keyboard. It’s not as bad as it seems. For example, if you buy the 42T3338 you will have to change the key caps of the F1-F12 keys, as well as the key caps for the up/down keys. It is really very minor because they (obviously) still go up/down, F1, F2, but the orange Fn response on the keycap will be wrong. You can simply swap out the keycaps with the old ones from your broken keyboard, granted it was water damage and not run over by a truck.
Note: The key caps are kinda meant to be removed. What does this mean? It means they can be removed and replaced, but the plastic innards are cheap and easily breakable. Also, sometimes the mechanism inside will come off with the key cap, in which case you’ll need to study the mechanism and put it back together. Know thy own strength of brain and brawn. If you would rather not replace the key caps, it’s really not a big deal. The key will still work (even the Fn), but it will be different from the orange designation. I feel its only really useful for the brightness controls (up/down) as thats the only “hardware” way to control brightness, but you can just memorize those 2 keys. If you do replace the key caps, you will have an exact same keyboard as the Y510.