I recently splurged a little and replaced my generic USB keyboard with an HP Wireless Elite Keyboard. With that mouthful of a name, it sounds fancy doesn’t it? Well, despite retailing for $50, I bought it from Amazon for about $30 (Technically, I bought it from one of Amazon’s partners because Amazon refuses to ship electronics to Puerto Rico for some unknown reason).
The keyboard’s style matches HP’s recent trend of minimalistic design reminiscent of Apple’s. It’s a simple, sleek, black plastic keyboard with white lettering, and no overabundance of media hotkeys that most keyboards these days seem to cram everywhere they can. It’s very, very thin – roughly half an inch at the thickest and half of that at the thinnest. There is no palm rest, which I really enjoy since it means less wasted space on my desk. The keys are chiclet-style keys (think MacBook keys) with very little travel distance and not much clacking noise. I had never used a chiclet-style keyboard before so I’m still getting a little used to it, but I enjoy the quiet and light touch. The construction feels very solid, and it has a good weight to it. That said, I haven’t had good experiences with HP’s build quality in the past, so we’ll see how it holds up over time.
In terms of bells and whistles, it’s a pretty simple affair. You get a standard full-size keyboard with a number pad. It has volume keys, including an up/down rocker and a mute button, simple enough. Off to the top right, above the Esc key, is a Sleep/Standby button, but it’s recessed into the surface of the keyboard so you don’t press it accidentally – a much nicer implementation than on my other keyboards where it’s easy to press and results in frustration. I usually even remove (angrily rip off, if you will) power keys from my keyboards, but this one is staying. Much like a laptop, there’s a function key that adds double duty to others. Across the top function keys you’ll find that they double as media keys and even has some brightness controls which I assume are for when using this keyboard on one of HP’s all-in-one desktop PCs. It’s notable that all the media and volume keys work without installing any drivers. It brings a CD, which I safely tucked backed in the box, never to be opened.
As for complaints, I’ve got to say that the wireless USB receiver has an ungodly bright, blue LED on it that lights up every time you press a key. It’s fine if your USB ports are out of sight, otherwise it’s amazingly annoying. However, it’s nothing a spot of electrical tape on top of the LED can’t fix. There’s no batteries in the box. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Microsoft and Logitech accessories, but I figured batteries should come standard. Also, HP claims one year of battery life, I’ll probably update this review when they die out to verify this. One thing that annoys me is the lack of Caps Lock / Num Lock lights. It’s a minor inconvenience, but at least a small LED next to the Caps Lock key would’ve been nice. As for the price, I’m very happy with the deal I found, but I would not pay full price for it.
Overall, it’s a great keyboard, and tough to find better at this price point. Looks great, feels great, and carries a low price tag if you look around. Highly recommended.
UPDATE: After about a year with the keyboard I had stopped using it out of annoyance because the S key and the spacebar kept registering multiple presses randomly. This was very annoying, considering I took very good care of the keyboard. Your mileage may vary, but something to be aware of.