Recently I took a punt and decided to grab a Rii Mini Keyboard off eBay. Given its price and the somewhat suspect-looking Hong Kong seller I was purchasing the unit off, I didn’t have high expectations. Boy was I wrong – good things do come in small packages!
Tried and tested, we all know the standard sized keyboard does its job, and does it well, but sometimes a smaller version of our favourite input peripheral can be very handy. The mini keyboard is nothing ground breaking and many variants have been floating around retailers for some time now. The Rii Mini Keyboard is one of many mini keyboards available but what makes it worth purchasing is that it checks off all the right boxes in both the functionality department and bang for buck.
First off is its functionality – pretty much every key required to run Windows or Mac PC is present and laid out in an easily accessible position. The basic alphanumerical keys are setup like a standard QWERTY keyboard you’d see on a smartphone. The top row is filled with function keys ranging from F1 to F8 which also double up as media control keys; this makes the Rii Mini Keyboard perfect for a media PC. Down the left side are the esc, tab, caps lock and shift keys. Along the bottom is a Windows key and spacebar and an enter button on the far right. As you can tell so far, this mini keyboard keeps all the commonly used buttons in the correct location in comparison to its full sized counterpart. The “Fn” button located in the bottom left hand corner is used to access the secondary function of certain keys and unlike some other mini keyboards, it doesn’t rely on this to cover all the keys we need. This natural layout makes this mini keyboard easy to use.
To complete the all in one package is a laptop-style track pad that works well for basic cursor navigation, but can become a little tedious when traveling across a large screen or multiple displays. Just like a regular track pad the faster you move your finger across the pad the further it will travel but be prepared to take multiple swipes at it to travel the distance of any monitor over 24 inches. Sitting just below the track pad is the arrow keys that also double up as the page up and down buttons, on each side of this is the left and right mouse buttons. Alternatively, you can simply tap the track pad to replicate the left click of a mouse. Pretty much every important key is present and even the less-important keys, such as print screen and a combined Control+Alt+Delete button, so you don’t even have to get up to reset your PC!
Design-wise, the Rii Mini Keyboard has put an emphasis on functionality over flashy looks, but that’s not to say that it’s ugly. The simplistic design doesn’t look out of place sitting next to a PC or even on a coffee table parked next to your TV remote. Measuring in at 151mm long, 59mm wide and just 12.5mm thick the Rii Mini Keyboard is easy to grasp with two hands and can be held horizontally or vertically. The keys have a mild dome shape to them so you can actually feel what you are pressing, and with some practice, touch typing could even be possible.
If touch typing on something this small is a bit of a stretch for you then don’t stress because the entire array of keys can be back-lit with a touch of a button so you can see what you are doing with the lights off. To help reduce battery consumption the backlight function will turn its self off after a few seconds, and if the keyboard itself doesn’t get used for a few minutes the sleep mode will engage. A claimed battery life of 500-700 hours of stand time means it’s not totally necessary to turn the unit off every time you don’t intend to use it.
A provided USB charging cable is used to top up the battery and just in case you don’t have any spare USB ports, the charging cable provided comes with an additional input plug.
A 2.4G signal is used to wirelessly transmit information from the keyboard to the extremely small USB dongle. This signal is good enough to travel a maximum of 30 meters(note: this may vary depending on environmental factors). The USB dongle is so compact that it can be stored in the actual keyboard which reduces the chances of losing the dongle when transporting the unit.
Last but not least is the compatibility of the Rii Mini Keyboard and so far I’m yet to find a device that it’s not compatible with. The packaging states that it is compatible with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, CE, 7, Linux Debian-3.1, Redhat-9.0, Ubuntu-8.10, Fedora-7.0, Mac OSX. What it doesn’t mention is that it works perfectly with our current generation gaming consoles, when plugged into a Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and even the Nintendo Wii all typing can be done via this keyboard. This makes sending messages to your friends a hell of a lot less tedious, and web browsing becomes a lot easier as well. For the PS3 web browser the Rii Mini Keyboard works very well since you can navigate using the tack pad, but unfortunately the Wii’s Opera browser still relies on the Wii Remote to navigate through web pages. That said, general typing can all be done on the keyboard.
Given that the average asking price for the chat pad accessory for both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 are within the same price range as the Rii Mini Keyboard this unit could be the better alternative for you – as a bonus you aren’t stuck with an accessory that will only work with the one device. To further add to its functionality a laser pointer is integrated into the unit for those that wish to use the Rii Mini Keyboard for a business presentation, so no more fumbling around with a laptop while trying to impress your boss at your next meeting.