Hardware Impressions: Rii Mini Keyboard

I have had an Intel NUC Mini-PC for several years now, for use as a media player, playing older games on the TV and some other stuff. Since a regular keyboard and mouse combo is rather unwieldy when sitting in front of the TV even with wireless options, I have been using a wireless compact Logitech keyboard with an integrated touch-pad for quite some time. Last year I finally looked around what options there are for really  compact keyboards. After some searching, I stumbled upon the Rii Mini i8+. Due to the low price-point (around 25 bucks) I thought “what the heck” and ordered one. After receiving it, I only needed to plug in the included usb wireless receiver, turn the device on and it was ready to use.

As you can probably guess from the picture, it is VERY compact, just about the size of my hand. It’s also very lightweight, making it comfortable to hold even in one hand. The small size makes all keys reachable when you hold the keyboard in your hands. The touch-pad can be used even while holding the keyboard with both hands, though you have to stretch your thumb a bit if you want to reach the upper opposite corner. Typically holding the keyboard in one hand and using the touch-pad with the other is more comfortable. They even accounted for this by placing mouse button keys on the far left side. The touch-pad itself works nicely and is accurate enough for general use, but I am thankful that they didn’t make it any smaller than it is. Also nice for the usual usage scenario: You can toggle a back-light (off / weak / strong) with one of the keys that illuminates the keys through the key markings and not just the edges. That is quite handy if you are sitting in front of your TV in the evening and don’t want to have much additional light on in the room.

Typing feels good on this keyboard, the keys give a noticeable “clicky” feedback so you don’t need to guess if you actually pressed the key. Obviously this can’t compete with mechanical keyboards, but with its price point and size, that shouldn’t be expected anyway. The amount of keys on a limited space means that some are in a bit weird places, like the “ß ? /” and “ ´ ` “ keys being located in the bottom row between “Strg” (Ctrl) and “Alt”. Some of the keys are also double-assigned, like the F9 and F10 keys also acting as the F11 and F12 keys in combo with the “Fn” key. You can see those assignments printed on the keys in blue (see the picture above). Depending on how you hold the keyboard, reaching some of the keys can be a bit awkward, like the page up/down buttons to the far right. You’ll also be less likely to type blind unless you train for a while to become used to the keyboard layout as far as keys outside of the alphabet are concerned.

Battery life on the keyboard has been good so far, for me it lasts for at least several weeks before I have to recharge it, sometimes even months. But even then, charging is easy through the micro USB port, allowing you to keep using the device in the meantime. In a few rare cases I noticed the touch-pad causing the mouse cursor to stutter or not move at all, though this was probably a wireless connection issue, since it cleared up after I moved the keyboard a little closer. I haven’t specifically tested the limits of the range though, as this hasn’t happened often.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Compact
  • Cheap
  • Long battery life
  • Good typing feel

Cons

  • A few connection hick-ups that might point to wireless range issues
  • Imperfect key placement and assignment due to size

Altogether from my personal experience, this was a good purchase and I can recommend it to anyone that wants a compact keyboard for use in front of the TV for example.

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