Standard-size keyboards get all the love. Most have a numeric pad, the proper spacing between the keys, and feel “right”—because it’s what you’ve always used. But if you have a small desk, travel a lot, or like to work at a café some mornings, it’s time to take a serious look at the tinier versions of keyboards.
Some mini keyboards have the same spacing and keys as standard ones even though they might lack the seldom-used number pad. And, their smaller size lets you position the mouse close to your body—no more strain on the neck and shoulders. The best mini keyboard will fit your work space, provide the portability and functionality you need, and connect to a variety of devices.
- BEST OVERALL: Arteck 2.4G Wireless Keyboard Stainless Steel Slim
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Jelly Comb Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
- BEST FOLDABLE: Samsers Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard Portable Wireless
- BEST WITH TOUCH PAD: Rii 2.4G Mini Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad Mouse
- BEST FOR GAMING: Razer Huntsman Mini 60% Gaming Keyboard
- BEST FOR PHONES & TABLETS: Jelly Comb Multi-device Bluetooth keyboard Wireless
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Mini Keyboard
When shopping for the best mini keyboard, consider how you’ll use the keyboard. Is it just for work, or will it also serve for gaming, or maybe as a remote control? Think about how you will connect to devices and factor in portability. Yes, these keyboards are smaller, but some have features that make them even more portable.
Remember compatibility, too. Ensure the keyboard works with the intended device—or with several devices. When upgrading, home office workers or gamers might want to try something new, like lights or a vintage look. Look for additional features as well, like a mouse, a touch pad, or a wrist rest.
Mini keyboards reach their smaller size with designs that offer less distance between keys, eliminate keys, or do a combination of both. The first keys to go are usually those in the 10-key numeric pad. Some also remove the direction keys. A standard-size keyboard has around 101 keys. Removing the numeric pad alone brings this number down to about 87 or 88 keys.
Mini keyboards can range in size from as small as 4.5 inches to as wide as 15 inches. Standard-size keyboards start at about 17 inches wide. While most mini keyboards use regular size keys, the more compact keyboards reduce key size. To use these more compact keyboards, you generally type on them like you would a smartphone—by using your thumbs as for texting. The arrangement of the keys can vary as well, so using them might take a little practice.
Mini keyboards are available in various types that differ in functionality.
- Standard mini keyboards are excellent for clearing up clutter on a desk, moving around the house (think desk to the backyard), or for taking along to a coffee shop.
- Foldable mini keyboards are great for work on the go. The already-compact keyboard folds up to an even smaller size that fits nicely into a laptop backpack.
- Gaming keyboards create a riveting experience for the gamer. The backlit keys with synced lighting effects enhance the vibe. The keyboards also come with extra features. They eliminate ghosting—when a keyboard doesn’t register a key press. Gamers who need to press four buttons at once to perform three separate moves—run, jump, then duck—rely on working keys. The keyboard also allows macros for creating more advanced functions.
- Smartphone and tablet mini keyboards turn a mobile device into a small laptop. These work great for those who don’t want to lug around a notebook. The keyboards either connect physically via pin connectors or wirelessly through Bluetooth.
Mechanical vs. Membrane
Membrane keyboards use dome-switch technology. A key press registers when the user pushes down on a silicone dome that connects two circuit-board traces. The pressing of a finger on the key completes the circuit. Pressing these keys requires more force than for a mechanical keyboard, and the action feels heavy. These keyboards have a shorter lifespan compared to mechanical keyboards.
Mechanical keyboard switches don’t use silicone. Each key uses a dedicated physical switch with a spring that registers the letter typed. These parts are more substantial and therefore increase the price of the keyboard. But they also increase the lifespan. Where a membrane keyboard might be good for 5 million keystrokes or so, a mechanical keyboard can withstand 50 million keystrokes, give or take.
Another bonus: For those who like a vintage aesthetic or a loud “clack” sound while typing, mechanical keyboards offer both. However, it is possible to find mechanical keyboards with quiet functions.
Wired vs. Wireless
Wired keyboards tether to a computer at a length of about 6 feet. This distance doesn’t cause any issues when using the keyboard on a computer desk. But for on-the-go applications, that wire can get annoying. A significant advantage, however, is that wired keyboards respond better because nothing interferes with the signal. Gamers appreciate this. It is worth noting, though, that wireless keyboards have come a long way, and this lag is almost unnoticeable.
Wireless keyboards allow you to work up to 30 feet away from a device. That’s a nice distance for using the keyboard with a TV or gaming console. And no cord means no clutter on a desk. Plus, when packing the keyboard in a bag, there is no cable to tangle.
The most significant benefit of a wireless mini keyboard is versatility—use the same keyboard across multiple devices. Wireless keyboards will need recharging, however. Look for one with a lithium-ion battery, as the charge can last for several days.
Mini keyboards work with more than laptops. Use them with TV streaming boxes, gaming consoles, or a home theatre PC (HTPC). Many devices come equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, so a Bluetooth keyboard will work in a home or on the go with other devices that enable Bluetooth.
Some wireless keyboards connect via a USB receiver and require a USB connection on the receiving device. That’s OK, since USB ports are standard on just about every device. Most mini keyboards work with Windows and Android systems. Apple users should double-check to ensure the keyboard will work on their devices.
Using a mini keyboard gives extra room for positioning a mouse closer to the keyboard and the user’s body—no more reaching far and causing stress in the shoulder and neck muscles. The smaller handheld keyboards are ideal for gamers who need to hold the keyboard firmly and access all the keys for controlling the game—without awkward hand positions.
Some mini keyboards come with desk accessories like a wrist rest to reduce stress injuries. Others include a mouse to save you the extra expense of buying one. Those who want to free up even more room on their desks can find mini keyboards that come equipped with a touch pad to eliminate the need for a mouse.
One of the neatest features on some mini keyboards is backlighting. Gamers, kids, and those who just plain want to have fun can enjoy backlights. The keyboard has lights underneath the keys, and the backlight illuminates the letters and symbols—this is nice in a darker room. Most backlit keyboards use white light, but others add colors.
Our Top Picks
The following mini keyboards were selected according to the criteria detailed above. They include products in a variety of categories, so you should be able to find the best mini keyboard for your home office.
Create more space on a desk, but retain the feel of working with a standard keyboard. This 2.4G wireless keyboard from Arteck has a standard-size layout and keys—the only thing missing is the numeric pad. Even with conventional spacing between the keys, this mini keyboard measures only 11.1 inches wide. A slight incline reduces strain on the user’s wrists when their fingers sit on the home row.
To start using the mechanical keyboard, users simply need to connect the (cable-free) USB receiver to a laptop or other device, and it’s ready to go, working from up to 33 feet away. The low-profile keys offer quiet keystrokes and comfortable typing. The lithium battery charge can last up to 6 months—if used for 2 hours a day. This keyboard is compatible with Windows.
This reasonably priced wireless mini keyboard from Jelly Comb comes with a matching mouse. They both connect to a laptop through a single USB nano receiver. Workers and gamers won’t have to sit so close to the screen since the keyboard and mouse work for up to 32.8 feet away from a computer, a game console, or a TV.
The keyboard switches have a short stroke that provides tactile feedback and requires little strength to use. With a similar feel to a laptop keyboard, it allows for faster typing and more precise control. The ergonomic tilt offers relaxed positioning of a user’s wrists and hands to reduce fatigue.
The mouse works on most surfaces and its contoured shape fits nicely in a user’s hand to reduce fatigue. The 11.2-inch size takes up less space on a desk. This mini keyboard is compatible with Windows.
Work just about anytime from anywhere. This mini keyboard from Samsers folds down to just a little bigger than an iPhone X. Users can fit it in a pocket or carry it in a laptop bag with no issues. When open, the keyboard is the same size as a standard keyboard with no numeric pad, and it has standard-size keys and a built-in touch pad. It also comes with a phone or tablet holder so users can create a work environment wherever they land.
Compatible with Windows, Android, and iOS devices, the keyboard connects through Bluetooth. It has an automatic on-off function for easy use. To pair, simply press the CONNECT button. Once paired, users can settle in up to 10 meters (32.8 feet) away from the device. The water-resistant polyurethane leather covering gives it a contemporary look. A rechargeable battery provides about 40 hours of continuous use and recharges within 2 to 3 hours.
Use this mini keyboard by Rii as a remote control or a keyboard. It fits in one hand and boasts a perfectly sized and positioned 3.8-inch touch pad designed to naturally line up with a user’s thumb. The touch pad has an ultrasensitive design for easy control. It also has a QWERTY keyboard with a standard layout.
This keyboard supports Windows, iOS, and Android, and users can connect the keyboard to projectors, gaming consoles, streaming devices, smart TVs, and notebooks. It also connects to the device via a USB receiver that plugs into a USB port. Once connected, users can situate themselves as far away as 32.8 feet and start using the keyboard. The rechargeable battery automatically goes into sleep and awake mode based on usage.
Experience lightning-fast keystrokes with the Razer Huntsman mini keyboard, which uses light-based actuation to register key presses smoothly and quickly. Each optical switch uses fewer moving parts than mechanical switches, so they last longer, and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) key caps hold up over time.
The keyboard ships with Clicky Optical Switches or Linear Optical Switches. Clicky suits users who prefer tactile feedback with sounds, and Linear Optical has sound dampeners for users who don’t like tactile feedback. Five optional preset lighting effects can sync up with popular games, Razer hardware, and gear from more than 30 partners and support 16.8 million colors of backlit keys to provide an integrated experience.
The keyboard doesn’t include the function row, number pad, or home cluster, but users can still access these keys via secondary functions and shortcuts. The keyboard size is highly portable and creates a tidy setup on a computer desk. The keyboard comes in white and black.
Work on the go using this multidevice mini keyboard from Jelly Comb. It boasts fast channel switching that allows users to alternate connectivity between smartphones and tablets without restarting the pairing process. The integrated stand can hold both devices simultaneously at an angle for optimal viewing and supports tablets of up to 12.9 inches.
The keyboard connects to devices using Bluetooth and is compatible with Windows, Android, and iOS, and users can connect to other devices like laptops at distances of up to 32.8 feet. The battery lasts for about 40 hours of uninterrupted work time and charges in 3 hours. The round keys register even the softest keystrokes.
FAQs About Mini Keyboards
For more information about the best mini keyboards, check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If additional concerns arise, contact the manufacturer.
Q. What operating systems can a mini keyboard support?
The supported operating systems will depend on the keyboard model. Check the product specifications to ensure the keyboard will work with your device.
Q. How do I charge my mini keyboard?
You can recharge a wireless keyboard with a USB cable. Connect the cable to the keyboard and then to a USB power adapter or to a PC.
Q. Do all mini keyboards use Bluetooth connectivity?
No. Some use Bluetooth, and others use USB receivers that plug into the device.