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 G84-5500, or the ‘XS Touchpad’, which is part of a series of a few keyboards that contain the low-profile CHERRY ML key-switch.
The CHERRY G84-5500 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 5500 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 G84-5200 (or the CHERRY XS Complete keyboard). Moreover, the keycap legends are laser-etched, meaning no wearing occurs during the life of the product. As well as this, the G84-5500 contains a useful laptop-style touchpad, complete with two buttons below that act as the left and right mouse buttons. This is a great addition and is more utilitarian than the trackball that is present on the G84-4400. The 5500 also contains no number-pad, which aids with the idea of the keyboard being designed as compact.
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 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.
- 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 to £101 dependent upon the retailer.
- 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.
I do, however, have a couple of issues with the 5500. Unfortunately, much like the G84-5200, 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. Also, due to the compact nature of the board itself, some of the keys (namely the ‘Home’, ‘Page Up’, ‘Page Down’ & ‘End’ keys) have moved towards the ‘Backspace’ and ‘Enter’ keys, which therefore can slightly impede on typing, but it only a small issue. Otherwise, the G84-5500 is as expected, a great keyboard with some great features and some of the most comfortable switches ever produced.