When it comes to working with a laptop the built-in keyboards often make it an uncomfortable experience, not giving you the freedom to position either the keys or the screen as you would like and having them both cramped together. This compact keyboard from Bakker Elkhuizen aims to help solve this problem, as well as helping prevent repetitive strain injury (RSI) by reducing some of the movements that contribute towards it.
The 840’s big selling point is the fact it helps with RSI by removing the number pad, allowing you to keep your mouse closer to the keyboard and directly in front of your shoulder, reducing the amount you have to move and improving posture. Without using this long term it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much difference this will make, but we did find it does save on a lot of reaching out helping keep a more stable posture.
The keyboard itself isn’t a lot bigger than the usual kind you would find built into a laptop. The main comfort benefits come from the fact it is a lot easier to move around independent of the screen as well as the addition of two kick stands so you can slope the keyboard if you find that more comfortable. While these might only sound like small differences, it really does make a significant difference to comfort compared with using a built-in keyboard.
The keys are of a decent size, although they’re packed in close together so it’s not the most forgiving when it comes to inaccurate typing. The travel distance (how far down the keys drop when they are pressed) isn’t huge, but it’s more than enough to give you an idea of when a key is pressed and it helps make typing feel natural. There’s also enough of a sound to let you know you’ve pressed a key, but not too much that it should start annoying your neighbouring colleagues.
The full range of keys is available, although you will need to resort to the function key to access some including the number pad and Home and End keys. It also includes a series of shortcut keys along the top of the board – the kind that never normally work properly and people never use. Pleasingly, without any setup other than plugging it in by USB, these seemed to work in a variety of programs giving you quick shortcuts to Open, Save, Print, Cut, Copy and Paste without needing to stretch fingers between Ctrl and another key. There’s also a similar set of buttons on the other side of the board for music and browsing options such as Play/Pause and Home.
The keyboard itself has something of an 80s look, reminding me more of an electronic typewriter than a cutting edge computer. While this may sound like a criticism – and if you’re after a modern looking setup it definitely is – it also seems to fit with the function above form approach Bakker Elkhuizen has taken. Everything is plastic so it doesn’t have a particularly premium feel, but at the same time it doesn’t feel flimsy and the whole keyboard only weighs 635g so slipping it in your laptop bag isn’t going to add considerable heft. The lightly coloured keys hark back to the early days of home computers, but they also provide the high contrast to easily pick out the key you are looking for.
It connects by USB and has two USB slots of its own so you can plug in a mouse and another device through it, helping keep your desk that bit tidier.
It’s certainly not cheap at a little over £50 which puts it at least within touching distance of the top end for compact keyboards. It does feel a bit much considering the dated styling of the board, plus many of its features are common to all compact keyboards. However, when it comes to performance and actually doing the job it is a very decent keyboard that doesn’t ever feel like it’s going to let you down.
Ultimately if you’re after a reliable, decent keyboard to work with your laptop, and style isn’t a major concern, this is definitely one to consider. The benefits around RSI are a nice selling point, but aside from allowing you to have the mouse closer to the keyboard (as you can with other compact keyboards) there’s not much to recommend it solely on that basis.