The K481 by Arctic is a compact wireless keyboard that includes a small touchpad with multi-touch capabilities and two mouse buttons. (I am actually using it to write this entire review.) It utilizes the 2.4GHz frequency range, which is the same band as some Wi-Fi routers. At first, I was concerned with this choice since wireless devices that share the same bands as Wi-Fi are known to cause interference which can reduce the range, speed, and reliability of your Wi-Fi internet. During testing, I was not able to detect any significant level of radio interference over my Wi-Fi network when using the K481. The range listed by Arctic is 10 meters. I successfully tested it up to 20 meters. Personally, I would have preferred that it utilized Bluetooth instead as then there would be no need to have the small USB receiver plugged into your computer taking up one of your USB ports. If it had utilized Bluetooth, it would also be possible for it to be compatible with Bluetooth enabled smartphones, tablets, game systems, and entertainment centers.
Two included AAA alkaline batteries power the K481. I also successfully tested rechargeable AAA batteries in the keyboard. It has an auto power saving feature in case you forget to turn it off. A feature not offered with this product that I would find favorable would be a built-in replaceable lithium Ion battery and a mini or micro USB port to recharge it.
I conducted all tests with the K481 connected to an Apple MacBook Air. The volume and play/pause buttons worked great. I did have some problems with the “F” keys working as they do on my Mac. The “F5” key was able to hide all windows but the rest were not able to mimic the functions they provide on the built-in keyboard on the Mac. The touchpad works well, but its small size does make it a little more difficult than built-in laptop touchpads. I was also not able to turn off the feature of touching the touchpad to enduce a mouse click. I know that many people like this capability while others, as well as myself, don’t. Tests were also sucsessfully conducted with the K481 connected to a Nintendo Wii as well as a Microsoft Xbox 360. Unfortunately the touch pad was not able to function with either gaming console.
For those that have some form of computerized entertainment center with a USB port, the K481 wireless keyboard might be a good solution. If you want a wireless keyboard that has a built-in touchpad mouse to use with your Mac or PC, then this product could be exactly what you have been looking for.
I wouldn’t recommend it for typing for long periods of time since the keyboard size is a bit cramped. I also had some problem with some characters not showing up when I increased my typing speed. So, if you find it hard to slow down your speedy typing, then this may not be for you. If you just want to be able to type searches into your favorite search engine, movie-streaming site, social network, or browsing around with the cursor; then the K481 is a pretty darn good option. Just remember that it’s not quite a full-sized keyboard, and it will take a little getting used to.
- Compact and portable
- Integrated touch pad to move cursor on screen
- No software installation required
- Mac, PC, Xbox, & Wii compatible (keyboard only with Xbox & Wii)
- Multi-media hot keys
- Auto power saving feature
- 20 meter range
- Not compatible with Apple TV 2nd generation
- No built in storage pocket to keep the wireless USB receiver
- AAA alkaline batteries (no USB charging)
- One of the keys fell off upon initially opening the box (snapped back on and worked good as new after that)
- No Bluetooth (relies on its own wireless USB adapter) = no iOS or Droid compatibility
Designed in Switzerland