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Adesso Wireless Mini Trackball Keyboard review: Adesso Wireless Mini Trackball Keyboard

The Good Compact; plug-and-play; wireless; broad range.

The Bad Unreliable performance; unencrypted wireless; unbalanced; expensive; lacks shortcut keys.

The Bottom Line For $79.99, you're better off buying a cheaper wireless keyboard than the Adesso WKB-3100UB--one that uses encryption and has a longer battery life for your sofa Web-surfing and portable-typing needs.

4.7 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 5
  • Performance 4

The $80 Adesso WKB-3100UB wireless keyboard is a good mini keyboard for surfing the Web from your sofa, but it's a nightmare to use as an everyday keyboard and trackball. The keyboard is usable most of the time, but its inaccurate trackball, poor button press recognition, sticking keys, lack of shortcut keys, and poor ergonomics left us unsatisfied.

The WKB-3100UB is a compact 87-key keyboard with a built-in 800dpi optical trackball. The keyboard is less than 12 inches long and a full 6 inches shorter than a standard 104-key desktop keyboard. To save space, Adesso includes a trackball in the upper-right corner of the keyboard and two mouse buttons in the upper-left corner. The keyboard and mouse are comfortable to use on your lap or in the air; however, when sitting at a desk, it's awkward to scroll the trackball with one hand while clicking mouse buttons with the other. Since there is no space between the keyboard and desk, we found ourselves constantly picking up the keyboard to use the mouse, and then setting it down to type. Adesso also didn't design the keyboard with lefties in mind, since you must use your right hand to control the trackball. The bottom of the keyboard is home to a power switch, a connect button, a magnetic area to store the dongle when not connected to a PC, the battery compartment, and a pair of feet for adjusting the typing angle.

According to Adesso's Web site, the keyboard uses a soft membrane material that keeps key presses silent. In our anecdotal testing, we found that the WKB-3100UB is quieter than typing on most desktop keyboards, but many laptop keyboards, such as the Apple MacBook, muffle the clicks more effectively.

The keyboard works and doesn't make much noise, but that's where our praise ends. At 1.14 pounds, the Adesso is only half the weight of a full-size keyboard, which is a boon for its mobility, but it makes it feel cheap. Adesso also failed to correct for the trackball throwing off the keyboard's weight distribution, which makes balancing the keyboard on one knee while sitting on the sofa an acrobatic act. The trackball also tends to clack around in its slot, adding to the keyboard's fragile feel.

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