This series of keyboard & mouse reviews may seem off-topic, but please consider the hundreds of hours that I spend each month tapping away at my desk. It’s worth finding good ones.
In December I replaced my six year-old HP laptop, which had outlived its expected service life by at least 2x. It was showing its age: it was annoyingly under-powered; it was twice as heavy as modern equivalents; its battery life was about 20 minutes; and the embossed letters on one-quarter of its keys had been impressively worn off.
I replaced it with a desktop, the Acer Aspire Desktop TC-780-ACKI5, which represented a major performance upgrade but which was still reasonably priced at $500. Its lack of mobility was not a concern — for traveling and coffee shops, I have a three-year-old Samsung Chromebook 2 with an 11-inch screen that weighs less than 3 lbs.
The stock Acer keyboard and mouse were functional, but I wanted to replace both — they are ugly, wired, and unremarkable to use.
Initially, I limited my search to Windows-compatible keyboard and mouse combinations that were wireless and that were full-size (with number keypad).
But after my first attempt failed, I added an additional parameter: it had to be slim/ultra thin. As a lifelong laptop owner (I’m 36 years-old and the Acer is my first desktop), the keys on slim keyboards feel more familiar: they are flat-topped and low-profile, and have less travel and require less force than conventional keyboards. The keyboards also consume less desktop space and do not require a wrist rest.
Review: Logitech MK520 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo
The first replacement candidate was the Logitech MK520 Wireless Combo, which was well reviewed, reasonably priced, and produced by a reputable brand.
But I was unimpressed. They keyboard on the first unit experienced regular delays, ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. Short delays are annoying, and long delays cause work stoppages — and neither is acceptable. So I requested a replacement.
The second unit was delay-free, but several of the keys — especially those immediately above the center of the space bar, like C, V, B, and N — required exceptional force. As a result, I was making typing mistakes with unacceptable frequency.
On the plus side, the mouse was nice, and all the batteries were included.
I went shopping again, and ultimately ordered three models — I wasn’t willing to waste more time, and I had realized that the choice is too personal to rely solely on reviews. I was specifically looking for reasonably priced alternatives to the Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad, which retails for $130 and is not accompanied by a mouse.
Review: VicTsing Ultra-thin Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
At just $20, the VicTsing Ultra-thin Combo Model PC132A is at the opposite end of the price spectrum. I assumed that its build quality and durability would be lacking, but I was willing to take the chance.
It seems like a great value for the price, but it will be going back to Amazon. I liked its keys more than those on the MK520, but I felt that they still required too much force — I want to simply tap on the keys, not bang on them.
The mouse seemed decent, too.
Review: Jelly Comb Ultra-thin Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
The Jelly Comb Ultra-thin Combo (model JC0317WS) was the nicest and most expensive of the three wireless slim models that I purchased, at $60. It has a solid all-aluminum build and is available in four colors: black, white, white and gold, and white and silver. I haven’t seen the Apple Magic Keyboard first-hand, but I imagine it to be similar.
The keyboard is almost perfect, IMO. The keys are responsive and low-travel, and need only a light touch. And it sits low (just 0.16 to 0.59 inches tall, front to back), eliminating the need for a wrist rest.
It has only one minor flaw: the space bar has a distinct “clack,” versus the muted key taps. I might get used to it, or it might always bother me — only time would tell.
Like the keyboard, the mouse is also very low-profile, though I wouldn’t consider this characteristic to be an advantage here — it does not cup inside your hand like a full-size mouse. On the other hand, the left- and right-click buttons are completely silent, while the roller noise is acceptably subtle.
For $60, I think Jelly Comb should include the two AAA batteries for the mouse, but it does not. It does include a silicone keyboard cover, however, which would help to keep it clean when not in use.
Review: Moko Ultra Thin Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
The Jelly Comb is nice, but I instead settled on the Moko Ultra Thin Combo (ASIN B078MCFCDX). The two units are nearly identical: the keyboards and mice share the same size and format, and the keys have the same feel. Even the boxes are identical, except the printed-on branding.
There are a few subtle differences, however:
- The Moko space bar sounds consistent with the other keys, instead of clacking;
- The base of the Moko keyboard is made of aluminum, but the top is plastic;
- The right- and left-click buttons on the Moko mouse make a “click” and are not silent;
- The Moko is available in only one color, black; and,
- No silicone cover (or batteries) is included.
The Moko is available for just $35, and I didn’t feel that the Jelly Comb’s aluminum top, silicone cover, or silent mouse was worth the extra $25. Moreover, the black keyboard blends into my black desk and will not show stains like white keys.
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