The Penclic K2 is a compact, slim, stylish keyboard which also promises to reduce your risk of repetitive strain injury. All of which sounds good, but how well does it work in practice?
The K2 has a rather Mac-like appearance with flat, white keys – with the exception of the return key which is red. It comes with a pair of rechargeable batteries, a retractable USB charging cable and a wireless receiver. There’s also a printed instruction manual.
There’s the seemingly obligatory awkward rubber cover over the USB charging port and a pair of retractable feet at the back edge allow you to change the angle, these are moulded in red plastic which gives the K2 a rather toy like look. A single LED indicates the charge state, flashing red when the battery is low and green when it’s charging. There’s also an on/off switch underneath so you can conserve power when it’s not in use.
The keyboard itself is pretty standard, the only oddities being the red return key, a mute button that has ‘Silence!’ rather than the traditional speaker symbol, and the fact that the right-hand Alt key has an extra R being labelled ‘Alt Grr’ - sadly it doesn’t growl when you press it. There are no Caps lock or Num lock indicator lights either. Page up and down, Home and End are combined with the cursor keys, so you need to press the Fn key to access them.
There’s a key with a marking like a cross between a copyright symbol and a cartoon rabbit that acts as the Windows or Apple key depending on what type of system you’re using. It lacks a numeric keypad which may be an issue for some.
Charging takes a couple of hours, although I had to swap the batteries as I couldn’t get the ones supplied with the unit to charge at all. Once you have a full charge, Penclic reckons it should last up to two months, though obviously this will depend on usage.
Once you've got it to charge, plug in the wireless receiver, it’s tiny enough that you could leave it in one of the ports on your laptop without noticing it, switch on the keyboard and you’re ready to go in a few seconds with no drivers to install. The K2 has a wireless range of about 15 feet so you can find a convenient working position.
The keys are flat but they’re a good size, they don’t have a great deal of travel, although they do feel quite positive but it’s easy to skip characters by not quite pressing hard enough. In that regard it feels more like a laptop keyboard rather than a desktop one. Despite the small small overall size of the keyboard, the relatively large keys mean it doesn’t feel cramped. The size does have the advantage that it takes up less room on your desktop than other keyboards. It’s quite light in weight too which is good if you’re using it from the sofa with your media centre system. For office use rubber feet under the front edge stop it from sliding around on your desk.
Whether it’s actually useful in combating RSI is another matter. It does need you to have your hands in a different position compared to a larger or more conventional keyboard as there’s nowhere to rest your wrists. I didn't experience any particular discomfort in the course of the test.
The K2 costs £54.99. A black version is available too and there’s also a corded C2 variant if you don’t want wireless operation. Full details are on the Penclic website.
Keyboards are quite subjective as one person’s preference isn’t the same as another’s. The K2 is a bit of a mixed bag, it has nicely sized keys, though you do find yourself hitting them harder than normal in order to get them to register. It generally looks and feels good, even if there are some oddities in the labelling of its keys, and it’s easy to set up and use.
Charging was a problem on our review unit though that may have been a one off. If you’re looking to save space on your desk, or you want a compact keyboard to carry around with a laptop, then it’s reasonably priced and nicely made.