About a year ago, I needed to find a keyboard that could fit in a small space next to another keyboard to work with my dual-computer setup. With limited desk space, the idea of having two full-size keyboards sitting side-by-side was pretty impossible to consider. Mini keyboards tend to be very difficult to work with, and their keys are almost never laid out in a way that works for me and my seemingly abnormally large hands. That’s when I discovered the A4 Tech KL-5 Mini Slim Compact Keyboard at my local Discount Electronics store.
At a price of between $9 and $15, the KL-5 certainly caters to the budget market. This made me wary at first, having had bad experiences with budget keyboards in the past. There are probably a dozen of them sitting in my closet that look brand new for various reasons including just being disappointing pieces of hardware.
The KL-5 plugs in via USB, and while a wireless option might be a better fit for many modern users, this is one of the sacrifices that need to be made for the sake of being frugal. Typing on the keyboard (which features full-size keys) was extremely intuitive and surprisingly pleasant. The keys gave the right amount of tactile feedback and felt springy under my fingers. My average typing speed didn’t drop by a single character, and actually sped up after an hour of use. This isn’t one of those mini keyboards that shrinks the button sizes down to microscopic level and rearranges everything so you constantly hit the wrong key while typing.
The Enter key is large, and a full set of function keys (not typical with keyboards this size) are also available. I was also surprised to find that this keyboard works just as well on a Mac as it does on a PC. The Windows key is automatically detected and treated as the command key on a Mac. An indention on that key makes it remarkably easy to locate by touch and work with.
A set of hotkeys adorns the top of the keyboard including power, back, forward, email, search, home, and print. While I may not use these keys much myself, the power key is a great way to quickly power down your system with a single press of a button. You can set it to put the system into hibernate or sleep, as well. Did I mention the KL-5 doesn’t require any additional software?
Over all, the A4Tech KL-5 is probably the one keyboard I would recommend to anyone that needs a small budget solution to a crowded desktop. Having two of these side-by-side takes up just a bit more space than a full gaming keyboard with added function keys.