What is a Mini Keyboard?

Ken Black

A mini keyboard is a keyboard that is much smaller than a traditional keyboard, yet allows the user to have a convenient input device. Usually, they are sold at places that sell computer accessories, though are not necessarily meant for use with a personal computer. Rather, they are more useful as PDA (personal digital assistant) or smartphone accessories. In some cases, a mini keyboard may also refer to a computer keyboard having standard-sized keys but also has the ability to maintain a smaller profile by having a smaller housing.

A variety of USB cables, including mini USB in the middle, which is used for mini keyboards.
A variety of USB cables, including mini USB in the middle, which is used for mini keyboards.

In some cases, a mini keyboard may be included with the device as a standard feature. These are most commonly seen on smartphones. However, a more traditional cell phone may have a mini keyboard as well. This is especially attractive for those who tend to do a lot of text messaging.

Mini keyboards are smaller than traditional keyboards.
Mini keyboards are smaller than traditional keyboards.

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In other cases, a mini keyboard is an accessory that attaches to a PDA or smartphone. This is often done through a mini USB connection. For those who find they use their PDA to enter a large amount of text, a mini keyboard may be a far more efficient option than using the touch screen. This is because forming letters on a PDA is often not the same as normal writing and may require some acclimation. In other cases, the user may find their handwriting style is often misinterpreted by the device.

The mini keyboard changes all this by not requiring such handwriting. However, it also has limitations. For example, the mini keyboard will often not be large enough to allow for true touch typing. This can be a serious limitation for those who truly want a functional keyboard like they would have if they were at a personal computer.

In some cases, to increase the size of the mini keyboard, some have been developed with special abilities, such as the ability to fold up. This allows the keyboard to maintain a larger size, yet still be small enough to fit conveniently inside a pocket when folded. While there may be some disadvantages to folding keyboard, it may also provide a level of convenience many people are looking for. However, even a folding keyboard may not allow the user to truly engage in touch typing.

For those who want the option of touch typing but find a mini keyboard is not suitable to the task, there are other options. A flexible, or roll-up keyboard is one of those that can be easily transported in a backpack or briefcase. They can often be attached to a PDA or smartphone much the same way a mini keyboard can. However, these do maintain a much higher profile and may not be suitable for all situations. Many may find it is best to carry both a mini keyboard and flexible keyboard for use based on the situation.

A mini keyboard can be used as a smartphone accessory.
A mini keyboard can be used as a smartphone accessory.

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Discussion Comments


The ones that attach to smartphones have been popular among those that love the newest Google Android, Apple iOS and Windows Phone devices but love the physical keyboards made famous on early mobile phones made by Blackberry and other companies.

With a good, mini keyboard that connects via Bluetooth, users can have that physical keyboard and a phone that runs whatever OS they happen to prefer.

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