Keyboards are a arguably the most important part of a computer. It is the peripheral that lets you get your thoughts into the system and control what the machine does. You as the user interact physically with it and it’s ergonomics or not can make a huge difference to your hands, arms and shoulders.
The Penclic Mini Keyboard K2 is a stylish and compact wireless keyboard that is designed to be ergonomic and mobile.
The K2 is designed for both looks and ergonomics. The keyboard is not quite what would be normally considered full size but is equally not a mini-keyboard. Once I’d adjusted to the slight decrease in size I found it very comfortable to use – and I have quite large hands. The reduction in size has mainly been achieved by reducing the space between keys, removing the num-pad and by shrinking the non-alphabetic keys leaving the main touch typing area untouched.
The K2 is not really designed to be a mobile keyboard, although its size could let it work for this. The mobile device would need to have a USB port available with sufficient power to run it. I tried it successfully with a Surface tablet and with a 7 inch HP Windows tablet.
The K2 is designed for office desk users who want an ergonomic and compact keyboard and one that they cane move and adjust and even put out of the way when it is not needed.
There is a second group of potential users for the K2 – those with media centre PCs. The K2’s range is good enough to work across a living room and through set-top boxes and it feels comfortable on the lap.
Size: 28.5cm wide, 16cm deep and .5cm high on the keys rising to just under 3cm at the front lip.
Weight: 381 grams
Operating System support: Windows XP or later, Mac OSX 10.1 or later, most Linux – this does include ChromeOS.
Network: USB nano-receiver 2.4GHz with a 5m range
Battery: AAA 1.2V NiMH recharging battery. Claimed life around 2 months, I got about a month.
Keyboard layout: UK
Num pad: Via function keys
Warranty: Penclic offer a 2 year warranty against manufacturers defects, offering either replacement, credit or repair at their discretion.
The K2 needs a computer with an accessible USB port that the dongle can plug into. The Penclic documentation lists Windows, OSX and some variants of Linux as working with the K2 and I had success with ChromeOS. I tried using the K2 as an external keyboard via a OTG cable on my HTC One M8 and my Hudl 2 tablet but had no luck – I’m not sure if this was due to a lack of wattage or incompatibility.
The Penclic K2 has a single LED indicator to show battery status. This is off in normal use but displays either red or green constant or flashing lights when low on charge or when being charged.
This might seem like a reliance on red / green differentiation but the information can be puzzled out without knowing the color by the speed of the flashes and if it is plugged in or not.
All the keys have a clear marking in a very dark shade of grey. The numeric pad is marked out in red digits and the control keys are shown in a light blue green. The enter key is a light red / orange color.
The K2 has no speakers or microphone built into it.
All keyboards have a certain amount of clicking when you press the keys and the K2 is no different. It is quieter than some keyboards but not massively so. If you are looking for a silent keyboard this is not it but is not that noisy.
It is usable by anyone with any level of hearing loss.
Input and touch
The biggest selling point of a keyboard is now good it feels to type on. The K2 uses scissor switches which are very similar to ‘normal’ membrane keys. They have no feedback until they bottom out but because of they are shallower with a lower travel distance this bottoming out comes earlier than you would expect.
Scissor switches are used in laptops and mini-keyboards because they are much shallower allowing a much shallower device profile. That shallowness and the fact there is no feedback before bottoming out means they are often criticized but with a little self training to avoid this bottoming out by not pressing all the way I was able to avoid this crashing. This did mean that I got very little feedback in my fingers but I did not find that a problem.
In short you need to accept either the slight impact bottoming out or train yourself to not travel all the way down.
The keyboard is smaller than a standard desktop keyboard but slightly larger than some ultrabook keyboards. The total key area is 27cm wide and just over 10 cm high. The standard keys are 1.5cm wide and just over 1.5cm tall.
The keys require a small amount of pressure to push which seemed like less than a standard membrane keyboard but this is somewhat subjective and hard to judge.
The K2 has a single sliding on off switch in the middle of the back. I found that I needed to use it very rarely. I only bothered with it if I was going to be away from the keyboard for days rather than hours.
Wireless pairing is automatic. Plug the dongle in and if the keyboard has charge and is switched that’s all that’s needed.
Ease of Use
The K2 is the amazingly easy to use. Put in batteries and plug into the USB to charge. Plug in the dongle and go for it.
Penclic say the battery when fully charged lasts around two months. In my usage I managed to get around a month of usage but that was without switching off and doing a lot of typing. Recharge took about two hours and the keyboard was usable when charging.
Apart from the ability to use a keyboard there are no cognitive or language barrier in the K2.
The K2 is made from a hard plastic with rubber covers . I was unable to determine exactly what but it is clearly some sort of thermoset plastic. It is possible to be allergic to this but this is rare.
Trigger warnings and age ratings
There are no trigger warnings associated with the K2.
Penclic is a Swedish Company that makes a range of mice, keyboards and num-pads. These are all designed to be ergonomic, are usually wireless and are usually of novel design. The company formed in 2011.
Keyboards can run the full gamut of price from £10 up to several hundred pounds for better and more features and better switches. The K2 falls in the middle of quality membrane keyboard prices and represents good value.
Included in the Box
- Mini Keyboard
- microUSB retractable charging cable
- AAA rechargeable batteries.
Keyboards can be a difficult item to give a verdict on. I can say that the K2 is stylish and compact and few would disagree with me. I can be impressed by the month long battery life and easy charging and that’s indisputable. When push comes to shove the most important part of a keyboard is how comfortable and ergonomic it is to type on. The K2 seems to have all of the best possible spec – comfortable, large keys spaced at a good distance and with low travel but keeping the costs reasonable means that it does compromise and use scissor switches.
After a month using the K2 I would recommend it. It may not be the best possible keyboard but it is a pretty good one and there is little to contend with it in its price bracket. Recommended for desk workers who want a stylish, compact keyboard at a great price.
The review is based on the Penclic Mini Keyboard K2 Wireless kindly provided by Penclic.