WE'VE HAD quite a few of what Microsoft calls "human input devices" into the office in the last few months. It's a posh way of saying "keyboards and mice and that". So we've decided it's time for a roundup - yee and indeed ha.
Logi Doodle Mouse Collection
Yeah, alright, so we can't resist cute. These pimped up versions of the Logitech M238 wireless mouse aren't Bluetooth, but rather use a USB dongle. The battery lasts a whole year and the "hand feel" (shut up, it's a thing) is great. Plus they come in a range of funky designs. We particularly love the grey one with the funky Evil Edna type robot on it.
Penclic Mini Keyboard KB3
Swedish brand Penclic has spent a long time refining the art of the keyboard. We've been big fans of the K2 for years. This latest model is Bluetooth or USB friendly and has one of the smallest profiles of any keyboard we've ever seen. Typing was completely intuitive - it took seconds to feel comfortable (in fact, we've been using it for this piece) and it has different layouts and protocols to make it play nicely for Windows, iOS or Android. If we have a criticism, it is that, in common with most Bluetooth keyboards, it can go a little doolally occasionally, but it's a small gripe for what is, essentially a design classic.
Penclic Touch T2
Staying with Penclic is the curious concept of the Touch T2, a device which is designed to replace your mouse with a touchpad, just like a laptop but for your desk.
The problem is that, like a bad touchpad, it is prone to the dreaded "cursor jumping around while you're typing nonsense that can make you want to throw things. It has four smart buttons, a jog wheel, a USB cable that isn't long enough and we've tried on four occasions to "get used to it" before it goes back in the box. Weirdly, Penclic have got keyboards sussed but haven't got mice right yet.
If you want to see if you have more luck, you can get the Touch T2 from Penclic for £49.99 from their store. The mouse-pen devices you'll undoubtedly find when you look are better, but still take a lot of getting used to.
Bakker Elkhuizen S-Board 840
We've been big fans of this one for a while. It's just been re-released and is well worth a look. It has a low profile, which is far better for typing, and offers up a wealth of extra function keys such as cut/paste and favourites, which it takes almost no time to realise are just brilliant. As if that wasn't enough to increase your typing speed (which it will) there's also two USB ports on the side, ideal for a mouse, a number pad (which is also available) or a dongle to power a Bluetooth accessory. Again, it's just a bunch of common sense thinking in one place. The fact that after two years it can stand to be reissued unchanged and still be one of the best keyboards on the market says it all really.
iClever Trifolding Keyboards
Not a single keyboard but a range of low-cost devices from one of our favourite brands. They're all metal, they all fold up into little pouches, and depending on which one you plump for, some are backlit, while others have a trackpad. Used in combination with a good solid tablet pad, you've got yourself something really special. They're usable as Bluetooth (usual caveats apply) or via USB and for our money they're as good as many at twice the price or more. A travel essential.
Logitech G Pro Gaming Keyboard and Mouse
Logitech has dived headfirst into the world of gaming with its highly configurable range of "G" gaming products. The mechanical keyboard action is heavy, and we mean really heavy, we really wouldn't want to type on it, but then that's not what it's for. The accompanying software can cope with a myriad of different profiles for different games as well as a range of features us mere mortals couldn't begin to comprehend. Best experienced with a big bag of crisps and a lot of screen time. The mouse is comfortable to hold with a premium fabric cable feel (as does the keyboard) and both are capable of putting on quite a light show with the backlighting. Which is nice if that's important to you.
Speedlink Ultor Gaming Keyboard and Decus Mouse
Look, we'll be honest, we're not e-sports people so we don't necessarily know what you're looking for. But we do think the Speedlink has a nicer smoother action than the Logitech. It also has a rather charming "back to basics" feel with its red metallic base tight up against the black raised keys. Again lots of customisation options here including a specific "gaming" mode button - that said we probably wouldn't use it for anything other than gaming. The mouse is designed to be ergonomic for those long sessions, but we did have a rather major issue with it - the thumb rest is for right handed people. If you're left handed it feels like you're holding a group of flat pebbles.
What is nice is the Qunox Gamepad (all of this coordinates aesthetically by the way) which feels great to hold, but we more casual gamers would sacrifice a bit of latency in favour of a wireless option. Like all the products in the range, it's fully programmable though.
No online store so it's off we go to Amazon where it's £73.25, but we're pretty sure we've seen it cheaper. And that mouse? That's at least another £30.99 depending on which one you go for. And the gamepad? £58.86.
Hyper X FPS Alloy
This is is the first time Hyper X has produced a keyboard, and as you'd expect, it's a doozy. It's the only one we've seen today with a number pad, yet it's lightweight, comes with a pouch to store both the device and removable cable, it even has a phone charging port. Yes, it seems they've thought of everything. Weirdly it uses a mini USB port - something we've not seen for several years, but it doesn't actually matter, the action is light but retains gravitas, the backlighting is stylish rather than showy, there's lots of programmable options and it coordinates with the rest of the HyperX range, such as the Cloud headsets which are about as good as it gets.
Classic clumsy cloud configuration creates cryptojacking challenge
And it's not even Alexa enabled
Expect Snapdragon 845, bezel-free screens and, er, no headphone jack
Untangling your finances one app at a time