The compact market for keyboards has become more prevalent nowadays with everybody wanting everything to be more convenient and CHERRY as a manufacturer are no strangers to the idea of the compact market. They may not do anything smaller than a full size board, but in terms of a low-profile keyboard, anything from their widely known G84 series will do the business. Specifically, this review will consist of the CHERRY G84-5200, or the ‘XS Complete’, which is part of a series of a few keyboards that contain the low-profile CHERRY ML key-switch.
The CHERRY G84-5200 contains CHERRY’s ML key-switches as opposed to my usual CHERRY MX key-switches. The main difference from that of the MX is 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 5200 features small spaces on the bottom of the board that are designed for two plastic ‘feet’ that come present in the box which slide in and out with ease. These ‘feet’ are also interchangeable and will work with the likes of the CHERRY G84-5500 (or the CHERRY XS Complete Touchpad keyboard). Moreover, the keycap legends are laser-etched, meaning no wearing occurs during the life of the product.
The keycaps are presented as black on white or white on black (much like the rest of the G84 series and other series in the CHERRY range), but there are several other versions in the G84 series which may suit other people such as:
- 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 likes of the 4400. The RRP for this is anything from £85 to £149 from various retailers.
- 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.
- Cherry G84-4400 – A differing version to the 5200; the 4400 contains no number pad, but is instead replaced by a small and nifty trackball, complete with large mouse buttons below the trackball. The RRP for this is £75 t0 £101 dependent upon the retailer.
I do, however, have a few issues with the 5200. Unfortunately, the ‘Esc’ or Escape key dominates the top left of the keyboard, as opposed to its normal size. Also, both the ‘Tab’ and the ‘Caps Lock’ keys are of a normal size, as opposed to being of a larger size for ease of use. This becomes slightly annoying and a persistent issue with use, but of course, people can adapt to this. Of course, it’s all down to preference.
Note: The 5200 reviewed comes with a purple PS2 connector and so therefore, a PS2 to USB adapter will need to be purchased separately. These can be found either online or in good computer retailers. There is, however, a USB version of the keyboard if required – the same as for all of the G84 series.