A List of Laptops with Backlit Keyboards


One laptop feature that’s becoming more and more important to buyers these days is having a backlit keyboard.  People are starting to realize the advantage of having a backlit keyboard due to the fact we’re using laptops in the dark more and more.  That may sound silly, but consider all the situations that might involve using a laptop in a darkened room:

  • Dark lecture halls where a powerpoint presentation is being used to show slides
  • Dark meeting rooms where a projector is being used
  • Flying on an airplane at night or on a night train
  • Watching TV on the couch at night in a darkened room while using a laptop
  • Using a laptop in bed while your significant other sleeps (you know you shouldn’t be using a laptop in bed though, right?)
  • You live in Norway where it’s dark all day during the winter

Ok, so that last bullet probably does not apply to most people, but you get the point.  Using a laptop for work or entertainment doesn’t stop when the sun goes down or when the lights go out, so it’s useful to be able to clearly see the keyboard still.  Some laptop designers may argue that a backlit keyboard is an expensive solution when you can simply rely on light from the screen to illuminate the keyboard, but in reality that doesn’t help much and people dim the screen to low brightness in the dark anyway.  Lenovo ThinkPads use a white LED light at the top of the screen called a ThinkLight to shine down on the keyboard for night time illumination, this offers mixed results as certain keys remain in the dark and the light is simply not as focused as a backlit keyboard light.  To see what I mean, see this image of a ThinkPad T61 with the ThinkLight on:

thindpad_t61_thinklight_keyboard_light1

The center of the keyboard is pretty well illuminated, but the edges are dark and that’s generally where you have to hunt for hard to find keys you don’t use as often.  Meanwhile, if you look at the MacBook Pro strong backlit keyboard you see how incredibly clear it is and how easy it is to tell which letter or function a key is.  It also looks hot, if a gadget can be called such:

Apple MacBook Pro backlit keyboard

There is a premium for getting a backlit keyboard, the technology costs more than just slapping on a regular keyboard.  Generally the upgrade cost to a backlit keyboard is about $25, for example on HP.com right now upgrading the dv4t from regular keyboard to backlit costs this amount:

HP dv4t backlit keyboard upgrade

I think the $25 upgrade is well worth it and I wish more manufacturers did at least offer the option on more laptops.  I often hear manufacturers skip putting in a backlit keyboard due to the extra cost, consumers are most sensitive to price I know, but if the laptop is configurable give us the option to spend more on a very useful feature please!  For those people who have been searching for a comprehensive list of laptops offering a backlit keyboard, that’s what we’re here to do.  I’ll break out the laptops with keyboards that offer backlighting, either standard or as a choice, by brand.  If there are any you see missing please leave a comment

Alienware Laptops with Backlit Keyboards

Apple Laptops with Backlit Keyboards

Asus Laptops with Backlit Keyboards

Clevo / Sager

  • No current Clevo or Sager laptops have a backlit keyboard, this may change in the future

Dell Laptops with Backlit Keyboards

HP Laptops with Backlit Keyboards

Lenovo Laptops with Backlit Keyboards

Sony Laptops with Backlit Keyboards

Toshiba Laptops with Backlit Keyboards

As new laptop models are added we’ll update this list, hopefully it continues to grow.

3 Responses to A List of Laptops with Backlit Keyboards

  1. J.R. December 12, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    Haha, great list, Andrew. The absolute biggest annoyance I have with my MacBook Air (I have the 2010 11-inch model) is that it doesn’t have a backlit keyboard. My significant other recently purchased the new 13-inch model, which does have one, and I’m pretty jealous; they’re just so useful if your house is dim and you don’t want to turn on another light.

    • Andrew Baxter December 12, 2011 at 3:26 am #

      hey J.R., most unfortunate that you missed the backlit keyboard on the Air by one generation. Even worse when you get reminded of that fact all the time with somebody else around that has it! It’s one of those things where ignorance can be bliss but once you use a backlit keyboard it’s hard to go back to not having one. I actually think it helps keyboard visibility during the day, my eyes must be getting old though.

  2. J.R. December 12, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    I know, right? ah well, I never planned on getting an mba, but it hasn’t been all bad; it’s easily become my favorite laptop…pretty much ever. i’m hoping the rumors about apple putting in a 15-inch version in the next iteration are true; it might be my next purchase. I’m digging the idea of a supermobile device and a powerful desktop since when i’m home, i usually use the laptop in the same spot.

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