The compact keyboard market seems to be opening up nowadays with everything getting smaller for purposes of convenience and the CHERRY G84-4400 seems to pack a punch for something so small. The compact market mainly consists of small Bluetooth keyboards for usage with an iPad or Android tablet, or they are wireless sets not to dissimilar to that of a laptop’s membrane keyboard.
The CHERRY G84-4400 contains CHERRY’s ML key-switches as opposed to my usual CHERRY MX key-switches. The main differences are that the ML switch is low-profile, meaning that there is a smaller stem, making the travel shorter for purposes of convenience. The ML key-switch is extremely comfortable to type on, with the heaviness of the key-switch reminiscent of that of an MX Red key-switch. With the ML key-switch having an actuation force of 50cN and MX Reds having a force of 45cN, the switches are not too dissimilar. The only difference that I can see is that the ML’s are easier to type on, due to the shorter travel.
Also, the number of actuations for each key-switch is only 20 million as opposed to the CHERRY MX Board 3.0’s 50+ million actuations. This is a minor downside for a typist like myself, but for the average user, it doesn’t really matter. The keyboard itself is available in white and black variations and is ultra slim to fit anywhere. The inclusion of a trackball along with two buttons that act as left and right click add to the keyboard’s USP, making it ‘stand out from the crowd’ as it were.
The keycaps are presented as black on white or white on black and features no Windows key due to the fact that the keyboard was designed before Windows was in wide usage, but there are several other versions in the G84 series:
- Cherry G84-4700 – This is an additional item to make the keyboard have a proper number pad, the retail price for the 4700 ranges from £37 to £55 dependent upon the supplier.
- Cherry G84-5400 – The updated version to the 4400, with the only difference being that the 5400 contains a Windows key. The RRP for this is anything from £98 up to £130.
- Cherry G84-5500 – This is pretty much the same board as the 5400, but the only difference is that is contains a laptop-style touchpad, as opposed to the trackball present on the 4400. The RRP for this is anything from £85 to £149 from various retailers.
- Cherry G84-5200 – The differences here is that the 5200 is the same board as the 5400, but in this case it does contain a number pad, just a shortened version. The RRP for this is anything from £60 to £90 dependent upon the retailer.
- Cherry G84-4100 – The more compact version of the 5400, it contains no trackball or mouse buttons. The RRP for this is anything from £40 to £50 dependent upon the retailer.
I do, however, have a couple of problems with the 4400. Unfortunately, the Function key dominates the bottom left of the keyboard, with the Control and Alt keys being squashed next to the space bar. For someone who is used to the Ctrl key being directly below the Shift key, it felt a bit weird. Also, the non-inclusion of retractable plastic feet on the bottom of the keyboard is disappointing, but once you get typing, it isn’t really much of an issue.