Saturday, December 3, 2022

Best Travel Keyboard 2021: Hit the Road with These Portable Keyboards

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Being constantly on the go can leave you stuck with a tech setup that’s less than ideal. You may not always get a full desk to work on, and odds are good that you won’t be bringing along your best keyboard, mouse, and monitor. If you’re lucky, you’ll at least have a laptop that can give you decent input options, but even that might not be comfortable for long work sessions. Fortunately, a good travel keyboard can help in these situations.Since the way you travel and what you travel with can vary, finding the right keyboard to work for you may be tricky. It could be that the most portable option proves best for you, especially if you’re constantly looking for extra room in your luggage for long trips. It may be that you just need something a bit smaller than your full-size keyboard and want to avoid cables that can snag and tangle in your backpack. Whether you want a travel keyboard that folds up or just stays low profile or you need one that can connect to your computer, tablet, and smartphone, we’ve found a capable option to fit your needs.

TL;DR – These are the Best Travel Keyboards:

1. Logitech K780

Best Travel Keyboard

Our Pick

Logitech K780

On Amazon

Logitech’s keyboards are almost all sure to be a worthy accessory, as the company has been in the game for a long time. The Logitech K780 is no exception. With it, you’re getting the best travel keyboard thanks to an impressively compact design that still manages to fit in a full number pad. It even has a unique look with its rounded keycaps.

The Logitech K780 is ready for use with a wide variety of devices, as it includes both a Logitech Unifying Receiver USB dongle and the necessary hardware to connect over Bluetooth. You can even pair it with three Bluetooth devices to easily switch from typing on your laptop to your tablet to your phone and back. This keyboard will also make it easy to get set up for typing when you’re on the move, as it includes a slot to hold up your smartphone or even a large tablet in a more laptop-like arrangement.

2. Omoton Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard

Best Budget Travel Keyboard

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Omoton Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard

On Amazon

If your priority for a travel keyboard is low cost, it’s hard to beat the Omoton Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard, which lists for as little as $16 and is routinely available for much less – it sometimes dips as low as about $11, in fact. At this price point, you shouldn’t expect a lot of features, but even so, it’s got everything you need from a Bluetooth keyboard. It’s compatible with most devices via Bluetooth, has a 30-day battery life, and is very compact and lightweight.

And that’s about all you can say about it – after all, it’s a $16 keyboard. It pairs with only one device at a time and you might find it’s incompatible with some devices (like the MacBook Pro). But otherwise, it is a compact and tactile keyboard you can pack and take anywhere.

3. iClever BK03 Bluetooth Keyboard

Best Foldable Travel Keyboard

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iClever BK03 Bluetooth Keyboard

On Amazon

While iClever sells a number of different keyboard designs, the company’s bread and butter is the tri-fold, which iClever has honed to near-perfection in this simple and inexpensive model. Yes, you can pay more for other models – iClever has an LED backlit mode for about $10 more, for example – but for most people, this keyboard should hit the spot.

The case is made of an attractive aircraft-grade brushed aluminum, and it folds down to just 5.75 x 3.5 x 0.7 inches – about the size of an iPhone 6s. The mechanical hinges give it a sturdy feel, and the keyboard turns on automatically when unfolded – then sleeps again when closed. You will, of course, need to get used to typing on a keyboard only 10 inches across.

4. Nulaxy Rechargeable Bluetooth Keyboard

Best Travel Keyboard for Tablets

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Nulaxy Rechargeable Bluetooth Keyboard

On Amazon

Yes, this keyboard looks weird, with a cover that folds up like origami – but that’s this model’s secret weapon. The keyboard comes with a protective cover that, when opened, folds into a shape that serves as a stand for a phone or tablet of virtually any size. It’s kind of genius, and makes this keyboard seem worth a lot more than its modest retail price. It even has a loop to hold a stylus, if your tablet can use one.

Otherwise, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a portable keyboard. It includes an integrated rechargeable battery and gives you a full-sized keyboard in a small form factor, albeit with narrow key spacing that might lead to typos.

5. Keychron K4 V2 Wireless

Best Mechanical Travel Keyboard

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Keychron K4 V2 Wireless

On Amazon

If you want all the goodness of a mechanical keyboard that’s not as big and clunky as the kind you’ll usually find cluttering up the top of gaming desks, then the Keychron K4 V2 Wireless is the travel companion you’re looking for. This keyboard packs a 100-key arrangement complete with arrow keys, function keys, and a full number pad into about as compact a space as you can get without sacrificing key size or spacing.

The Keychron K4 V2 Wireless offers a Bluetooth connection and can pair with up to three devices for easy switching. It’s 4000mAh battery can last up to 72 hours on a charge, which should give you plenty of juice for work while traveling. Of course, you could also turn on the RGB backlighting for some style points at the cost of battery life. When the battery is low, you can plug this keyboard in to charge over USB-C and continue to use it as a wired keyboard. While you’ll get 6-key rollover on Bluetooth, a wired connection will offer full N-key rollover in case you need to get serious about gaming on the go.

6. Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Touch TV Keyboard

Best Touchpad Keyboard

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Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Touch TV Keyboard

On Amazon

This isn’t just a portable keyboard –it’s just as comfortable on the sofa as it is on the road. That’s because the K400 Plus has an integrated touchpad and media controls, which makes it great for controlling your media PC. The touchpad is 3-by-2 inches and is a solid substitute for a mouse when the keyboard is resting in your lap.

Like many Logitech keyboards, this model uses a unified USB controller. Lacking Bluetooth, you can’t control iOS or Android phones. But it does work with other Windows, Mac, Android, and Chrome devices—plus the Xbox One and PS4 too.

7. Microsoft Surface Keyboard

Best Full-Size Travel Keyboard

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Microsoft Surface Keyboard

On Amazon

As the name suggests, the Microsoft Surface Keyboard is intended to let you turn a Surface tablet into a full PC through the addition of a portable keyboard. On that front, it’s likely everything you could ask for; it is a full-size keyboard that offers a desktop-like feel, yet runs on a single set of AAA batteries for about a year.

You can use this keyboard with Windows, Mac, and Android tablets, and even the Windows 10 phone, if you happen to have stolen one of those from a museum.

8. Keychron K2 Wireless

Best Compact Travel Keyboard

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Keychron K2 Wireless

On Amazon

If you want a keyboard with all the typing comfort of fully mechanical key switches but a compact size, Keychron has you covered. The Keychron K2 is a truly compact keyboard, eschewing unnecessary keys and packing in just the essentials. Better still, it can link up to your devices over Bluetooth or wired USB connections, letting you easily use it with almost any device. And, you won’t have to worry much about the battery as it can run straight through a full 9-to-5 work week on a single charge.

Need to work late? No problem, as this keyboard has built-in backlighting. This keyboard is available with a number of different Gateron key switch options, so you can find one that’s to your liking. What’s all the more impressive is the relatively low price of this feature-packed wireless mechanical keyboard.

9. Seenda Ultra Thin Low Profile Rechargeable Keyboard and Mouse

Best Portable Mouse and Keyboard Combo

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Seenda Ultra Thin Low Profile Rechargeable Keyboard and Mouse

On Amazon

Yes, you can buy a mouse and keyboard separately. There are plenty of stylish, compact, and slimline mice out there (the Microsoft Surface Arc mouse is particularly cool, for example) but if you want to get a mouse-and-keyboard bundle all at once, Seenda has a great combo. Both mouse and keyboard run for as long as three months at a time before needing a recharge, and both are slim and sleek, easy to pack in a travel bag.

Both devices also work using a single unified wireless USB adapter, conserving USB precious ports – but on the downside, that means this is not a universal keyboard. Your smartphones and tablets won’t be able to connect.

10. Microsoft Designer Compact Keyboard

Best Bluetooth Travel Keyboard

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Microsoft Designer Compact Keyboard

On Amazon

When you’re traveling, sometimes you just want the slimmest, most compact option and don’t want to fuss with any extra little doodads like USB dongles that can easily get lost and turn your travel keyboard into a lump of extra baggage. The Microsoft Designer Compact Keyboard will make sure those woes are avoided. It’s a sleek package, measuring less than an inch thick, and most of the keyboard is even thinner than that, as there’s only a small raised section at the back to give the keyboard a little tilt.

The Microsoft Designer Compact Keyboard uses Bluetooth LE 5.0 to pair with up to three devices, and it can get up to three years of battery life using just a set of four watch-style CR2032 batteries. The experience is even better on Windows 10 devices, as they support Swift Pair for the keyboard, letting you get set up quickly. Plus, the keyboard includes handy shortcuts for inserting emoji as well as capturing screen snippets. And, as simple as it may seem, having an actual power switch on a keyboard that’s likely to go in and out of a lot of bags can make a big difference in stretching the battery life.

What to Look for in a Travel Keyboard

Keyboards are very personal devices; you want a keyboard that’s comfortable and ergonomic to minimize injuries like repetitive stress and are laid out in a way that keeps your typing errors to a minimum. Travel keyboards can be especially challenging, because a lot of the ergonomics important on the desktop – like angled keyboards, sculpted keys, and generous intra-key spacing – often goes out the window in an effort to make them as portable as possible. It’s always a good idea to try out a keyboard before you commit to it, if that’s possible.

All travel keyboards are wireless, but not all wireless is the same. Some keyboards rely on 2.4GHz USB adapters, which means that phones and tablets won’t work with those models. But for more universal Bluetooth models, you may want to look for models that can pair with up to three devices. That lets you quickly switch among your PC, phone, and tablet.

Then there’s the battery. You’ll find an enormous range of battery performance among keyboards. More convenient models will turn on and off automatically; if you need to remember to slide a power switch manually, you’ll inevitably forget and drain the battery between trips.

I could write an entire article about the keys themselves, but I’ll keep this brief: most keyboards use some variety of membrane keys, but even so, the feel and travel of the keys can make a big difference. A few travel keyboards are mechanical, and these are great for gamers and touch typists. But they’re noisy and make the keyboard both bigger and heavier.

Finally, the single most obvious differentiator: form factor. Some keyboards fold in half or into thirds. Others come with integrated covers for protection, or are built into a folio cover to protect your tablet screen. There are compact 60%keyboards and some that are close to full size. Choose the one that suits how you travel, what kind of travel bag you use, and how you plan to use your keyboard. If you need a larger keyboard with media controls or programmable function keys, you probably won’t want a tiny fold-up keyboard.

More Expert Tech Roundups

Dave Johnson has been writing about gaming and tech since the days of the Palm Pilot. See him shout into the Twitter void @davejoh


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