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I'm trying to help my mom replace her ancient laptop with a new laptop + external keyboard and monitor. For use mostly at home in one spot, so this would let us not care so much about a new laptop's form factor.

Use: MS Access / Excel, web, email. So a gaming keyboard isn't needed.

Requirements:

  • no number pad. Reaching far to the side of the alphabetic keys to get to the mouse is a problem. My mom had a RSI shoulder issue from awkward mousing a few years ago, so we think it's important.

  • ctrl key in the bottom-left corner, not some stupid Fn key: I bought one cheap compact keyboard to test-drive the external-keyboard idea. The braindead layout was a showstopper. The more sane the layout, the better. (Screenshots of the current laptop keyboard are in that link above. It's nice.)

  • similar "feel" to a normal laptop keyboard, so it's not jarring to go between internal and external keyboard. I don't think mechanical switches would be a plus.

Bonus:

  • built-in pointing device: for simple mouse movements, not reaching for the mouse at all saves wear and tear on the shoulder. She does sometimes use the trackpad on her laptop instead of the external mouse in this case.

  • Nice layout of the arrow keys is a plus, so alt+left / alt+right can be pressed easily with one hand.

This keyboad is the kind of thing I'm looking for.

ADESSO ACK-540UW: close to what I want

Most external keyboards with built-in pointing devices have number pads, or are weird in some way. For example, the ADESSO ACK-540UW pictured above has really cramped ctrl/capslock keys, and the backquote / ~ key is in a weird place. I can't even make out the marking on the bottom-left corner key from that image, so I'm not even sure that's a ctrl key.

Wired or wireless is fine. Combo with a mouse is a disadvantage, but not a critical one. I'm interested in options at any price range, although it would have to be really amazing to spend over 100$ on. (We're in Canada, so online retailers can generally get most stuff that's available in the US.)


I've considered just finding a laptop with an internal keyboard that would work well for daily use, but laptops without number pads are typically 14" screens or smaller. This question is just asking for external keyboard recommendations; the off-topic stuff about laptops is just background.

  • @Cfinley: I intended this question to be just about the keyboard. The stuff about the laptop was by way of explanation/background/where it will be used. The intent was to avoid the X-Y problem and open the door to suggestions that took into account the whole context. I hoped the title of this question made it clear. I'm not sure how I could improve this without making it even longer. If you have any ideas, edit away. – Peter Cordes Feb 9 '16 at 21:47
  • You might want to have a look at the AVS Gear Zippy BT-637 on Amazon or NewEgg. I hope this goes into the right direction – benjamin Feb 10 '16 at 11:41
  • @benjaminS: hmm, it looks perfect except pgup/pgdn are hidden behind Fn, if I'm seeing that correctly. I'm also not a fan of the tall enter. Other than that, yes, the not-too-cramped modifier keys, with a tiny little trackpad underneath is exactly what I'm looking for. – Peter Cordes Feb 10 '16 at 18:04
  • I've stumbled across another keyboard which may fulfill your needs: KBC-1540TP-BP or on Amaozn. No numpad, ctrl key in correct position, has a touchpad and has accessible arrow keys. The enter and backspace key are smaller here - let me know if the search shall be continued :) Edit: Looks pretty much the same as the one in your picture – benjamin Feb 11 '16 at 7:51
  • @benjaminS: looks solid, thanks. That's PS/2, but I found the USB version (much cheaper). I'll ask my mom what she thinks of it. It looks ok to me, but I'd have liked ctrl to be a little bigger and maybe a wider spacebar with fewer non-modifier keys jammed next to it. Still, probably something one can get used to. Hopefully there's a north-american version, since I think that's a UK layout. – Peter Cordes Feb 11 '16 at 8:23
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I've yet to find a compact keyboard with a track pad below the keys that I like, even on laptops. I find that I hit the track pad with my wrists and that randomly clicks everywhere.

I had, however, found a keyboard that has a track pad off to the side that I like. It's not as compact as a small laptop's keyboard, but it is still significantly smaller than my desktop's keyboard.

I like the Logitech K400.

Logitech K400

Pros

  • Does not contain a number pad. In it's place is the track pad. Hopefully this is ok for the shoulder.
  • The Ctrl is in the lower left corner. I agree with you about the FN key. It is not in the lower left.
  • Feels similar to laptop keyboards I've used.
  • Contains a multi-touch track pad built in
  • The Alt seem easy enough to reach to me. I don't recall ever being annoyed by that button.

Cons

  • My only complaint is about the right shift button. Instead of the usual long button, it occupies a single button position. Personally, it doesn't bother me, but I've had others that utilize it complain occasionally. I've had laptops with this layout though, so I may be used to it.
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  • Thanks for the recommendation, but unfortunately it's not ideal. I think my mom still wants to use her "normal" mouse frequently for precision mousing. The goal was really to minimize horizontal distance of arm movement from home-row to mouse. The table she uses at home is a bit higher than ideal for a desk, so having the mouse too far off to the right requires the shoulder to support the arm in a non-neutral position (with elbow up). – Peter Cordes Feb 10 '16 at 18:00

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