Decent keyboard for small hands, short arms, limited space, etc.
Mar 16, 2004 (Updated Aug 24, 2006)
Review by oion
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Size. Compacted, yet still decent key pitch. Nice black/silver design.
Cons:Key stroke has squishy resistance, but still tactile enough. Soft click. Partially nontraditional key layout.
The Bottom Line: Decent space-saving keyboard, though longevity is unknown. If you don't use the keypad, save some space and arm reach. For smaller hands, shorter arms, etc. Fine for touch-typing.
If your desktop or keyboard tray needs more space for that mouse or tablet, or you're right-handed and you don't like stretching your arm past the function keyset (Ins, Del, etc.) and number keypad to reach the mouse, this mini-keyboard is for you.
Recommend this product?
This particular model is sold rebranded as Adesso, Ortek, or some other "name brand" I don't recall. The important thing to remember is that the model number doesn't change (MCK-91). It's useful to see an image to know it's the same keyboard, too. It comes in all-black or black keys with silver outer case, that I'm aware of.
The keyboard itself has 89-keys and is just about one foot in length; it also comes in USB or PS/2 flavors, but stores will vary in availability. It has no separate function keypad or numerical keypad, but these are integrated within the keyboard. Because of its size, certain keys are "out of place" and the number keypad requires hitting the number lock and Fn (function) keys to access. The layout is similar to what a laptop might have. The Home/PageUp/PageDown/End keys (also available as embedded keys on the inverted-T arrows) are placed vertically along the right side, while the Insert and Delete keys are just to the left of the inverted-T arrow keys. Those two keys may take some getting used to. There is also only one Windows key on the left side, and a context-menu ('right-click') key on the right side. It may be possible to use a freeware keyboard remapping utility to logically rearrange keys within Windows, but I haven't bothered trying.
The feel itself is just a tad mushy - there is a bit more resistance than the normal keyboard I'm used to, but with a little practice I can type a decent 80-90wpm. There are little 'home-row' nubs on the F and J keys, though they're not obvious in pictures.
Because this is a "media" keyboard, there is a row of round buttons at the top with special functions for internet surfing and media players, which requires the installation of the media driver on cd-rom. If you choose not to use the cd-rom, Windows will find the keyboard just fine so you don' really need to install anything (I have the PS/2 version).
The manual pretty much talks about only the customizable media keys. It does not, interestingly, tell you how to access the embedded number keypad (which you can see below the front edge of certain keys on the right side). Through trial and error, I figured it out: You must have the NumLock enabled, then hit the Fn-key just *once* to enable the embedded number keypad. Hit the Fn-key again to disable it. If the NumLock is not enabled when you hit the Fn-key, you won't be able to use the keys that have embedded numbers. Because the Fn-key is placed between the Windows and Ctrl key on the left side, you may accidentally hit it on occasion. If it may become problematic, perhaps placing a dot of glue on it for tactile feedback may help. I've gotten used to it, though, having used an even smaller laptop keyboard. Just remember that the Fn-key will access all the embedded key functions, and the number keypad itself needs the NumLock too. It would be nice if the Fn-key had its own LED like NumLock or CapsLock.
Because I did not install the included media driver, I have nothing to say about the extra row of keys at the very top.
If you need to use the numerical keypad a great deal, this probably isn't the keyboard for you. The embedded keypad isn't terrible, but it's not arranged in a straight square as normal keypads are. Even still, for occasional use I find it fine.
Other notes concerning the layout: the right-shift key has been reduced in size a bit to give space to the inverted-T arrows and Home-End keys, but it's not particularly annoying. The spacebar, however, is shifted more to the left side. This might be a concern if the key mechanism isn't designed to take millions of keystrokes on the *edge* of a large key, since your right thumb will rest right on the end of the spacebar and your left thumb will be centered. In my case, I had already trained myself to touchtype on a smaller keyboard with an offset space-bar, so I use only my left thumb for space anyway. This might be something to think about. I'm a pure touch-typist, too.
Compacting the space like this is helpful for people who are experiencing some fatigue or repetitive stress from stretching out over normally long keyboards just to get at the mouse or tablet or whatnot. Because of its size and positioning, for right-handers the keys become more centered to the typist as you can place the pointing device closer. I'm not saying this will cure repetitive stress syndromes and the like, but it may help (and was actually the original reason I bought it for someone who's short with shorter arms than most folks). Keep good typing habits!
p.s.: I purchased this from Newegg.com, which apparently isn't listed in the Epinions store list at the bottom.
At some point, the enter key or something ceased working on the family computer. I suspected it was just normal gunk accumulated in the keyboard since my dad likes eating around the computer, but before I had the chance to check, the keyboard disappeared and an older one had replaced it. (9/2005) As a side note, the old keyboards still had longer working life even with my parents' abuses.
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Amount Paid (US$): 14.99
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