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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Nice review of wireless keyboards and mice. The keyboard and mouse choice is so personal. I still like to pound my mechanical keyboard when I’m in the office and mis it when traveling.
One area of concern is that these keyboards use the 2.4 GHz spectrum. This is a crowded spectrum that is subject to interference from microwave ovens, mobile phones, WiFi signals, etc.
Additionally, 2.4 GHz wireless keyboards, mice, etc., have lacked robust security in the past and have not been not as secure as Bluetooth devices. This may be a moot point if you live in a space where a digital intruder cannot get physically closer than 10m or so, it is of much greater concern in a public location which your setup will not be exposed to.
I prefer mechanical as well and I have older corded Filco on my desktop at home, though more and more I find myself using laptops and though I like some of their keyboards more than others, have finally gotten used to them.
You can buy the Jelly Comb with a mouse – I didn’t order the mouse because I have one I very much like – for far less than the $60. I ordered just the keyboard for $29, on sale for $22. To include the mouse was about $10 more. It is black although for more money, you can get other colors. It is sleek and has a nice response. The space bar does not clank. It is very similar in price and features to the Moko. If you had bought that one, you might have been happier.
The Jelly Comb ultra thin keyboard and mouse does indeed come with a silicone cover but it’s not just a dust cover. If you use this keyboard in a location with an increase chance of spilling fluids on keys, you better use the silicone cover all time. Spilling coffee or soda on the Jelly Comb Keyboard is the kiss of death. Now matter how quickly you invert the keyboard to shake moisture out and try to dry it, even with a blow dryer, in all likelihood the keyboard is toast. I’ve searched the world over for info on how to take this keyboard apart to attempt to clean or fix after a liquid spill to no avail…. and my normal smarts weren’t enough. I paid dearly spilling that coffee… to the tune of trashing a $60 keyboard.
I recently ordered a wireless Jelly Comb keyboard. Because I needed the keyboard to work with two computers I ordered a second receiver which didn’t connect to the second PC.Wenn I contacted Jelly Comb about this problem they went out of their way to help and send me a second keyboard with receiver, free of charge, which solved my problem.I would certainly award Jelly Comb five stars for their service and helpful attitude towards their customers.