Unlike most freelancers I know, I’m in the fortunate position where I can do most of my work from the comfort of my own office. I like the custom built desktop PC I have there, with its high-end multi-monitor setup and excellent set of peripherals. But over the last few months, I’ve started working on location more, and I did my best to assemble the best possible mobile setup I could. A good laptop stand and mouse were easy enough to find, but finding a good keyboard to take with me turned out to be a little more troublesome.
I don’t think I had an unreasonable set of demands.
- Compact size (needs to fit in my backpack)
- Flat, laptop style keys (personal preference)
- Full-size keys for typing comfort
- Not ugly
- Preferably with a cord
As it turns out, you can no longer buy compact wired keyboards. I don’t mind the wires, and barely ever move my keyboard around on my desk, but manufacturers have moved almost exclusively to wireless. And even then, finding a nice small one isn’t easy. I tried the Trust Curve, but found it to run amok sometimes in Ubuntu. Its cheap plastic would rattle when typing, and I just generally disliked it.
Enter the Rapoo E9070. I was told in the store that Rapoo was a part of Logitech, but from a few quick web searches, and despite their respective websites looking very similar, I doubt whether that’s actually true. But that does not matter if the product is any good. And in this case I think it is.
Logic dictates that compact keyboards can not have as many keys as full-size ones, and I feel that Rapoo made some excellent choices here. The E9070 is only slightly wider than the Trust, but features a numeric keypad, arrow keys and function keys. Things like ‘home’ and ‘end’ are available through the Fn key, or directly on the numeric pad if you disable numlock.
The keys of the popular “chiclet” variety, but they’re nice and flat. I found them very comfortable considering this keyboard’s lower-end price range. The surface of the keys is a little slippery, but I managed to get very decent typing speeds, even while getting used to the layout (it differs slightly from my Logitech K750). Keys are truly full size, a little larger even than on the K750.
Esthetics and build quality
This may well be a personal thing, but I think most PC keyboards are damn ugly. They’re either heavily Apple-inspired or have all sort of design cruft. The E9070, in my opinion, is a notable exception. It’s efficient, industrial looks set it apart from the crowd, and the brushed stainless steel back helps make it very rigid. I can forgive Rapoo for renaming the space bar to ‘Rapoo bar’, since there’s no extra space for branding anywhere else.
Obviously, having just bought this, I can’t say anything about its durability. But I hope it turns out to be a sturdy as it looks and feels, because I really like it so far. Recommended.