In praise of cheap keyboards

I’m typing this with a keyboard that is cheap and looks cheap. And I’m loving it.

My appreciation for cheap keyboards began with my first Chromebook, an Acer C720 I got to learn and explore chromeOS. I loved the device so much I switched to using chromeOS as my only desktop operating system. Back then my daily driver was an i3 ASUS Chromebox 2 hooked to a Logitech K120 full travel keyboard from my last PC.

With the Chromebox as the main desktop machine, I put aside the Chromebook for a while. But something later motivated me to play more with the Chromebook: its keyboard.

The screen of the Acer C720 has notoriously poor viewing angles. But I realized I could improve legibility by setting the Chromebook on a slightly taller desk, which made the viewing angle optimal. This led me to use the device more and appreciate its chiclet keyboard with good feedback.

To have a similar experience on the ASUS Chromebox 2 I used at the time, I bought the only low profile chiclet unit I found that provided the extended Italian layout with accented letters I wanted, an Atlantis Chocolate 1300 wired keyboard. It was cheap and came from a little known manufacturer, but worked great. I began enjoying typing on the Chromebox more and more.

When I upgraded to my current i7 ASUS Chromebox 3, I plugged the Atlantis keyboard into it. However, its cable and that of the mouse contributed to the mess on my desk, so I replaced the input devices with wireless units. I bought a Logitech M220 mouse and, again, the only low profile chiclet keyboard with the required layout I found, this Nilox Kt40W:

Nilox Kt40W wireless chiclet keyboard.

The keyboard cost me all of €14.69. Besides being cheap and from an unknown brand, the plastic finish and feel make it also look cheap.

But I really enjoy using the Nilox keyboard.

Pressing the keys makes a clunky noise, a satisfying kind of clunky with a pleasant feedback. At first the pressure of the keys felt hard, slightly more than the Atlantis. But I eventually got used to the keyboard and came to love it.


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