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Compact (Tenkeyless) Keyboards

My Current Keyboard Setup

My Current Keyboard Setup

As I’ve written before, I find compact keyboards to be more comfortable than normal full size keyboards.  Compact keyboards are also called Tenkeyless keyboards since they do not have the numeric keypad on the right.

I currently have four compact keyboards:

  1. My original, a Lenovo Ultranav scissors switch keyboard with trackpad and trackpoint.
  2. An IBM SpaceSaver M4-1 keyboard with trackpoint.  It was made by Lexmark and has rubber dome key switches.
  3. Two Unicomp Model M Mighty Mouse keyboards and two Unicomp keypads.  These keyboards have rubber dome key switches.

The IBM and Unicomp keyboards are quite similar; for example, I can use the Unicomp keypad with the SpaceSaver keyboard.

My current work setup (shown above) is a Unicomp keyboard and keypad with my Kensington Orbit trackball in the middle.    I like having the keypad for heavy number entry; I like the keypad being out of the way since I don’t use it often.

The SpaceSave and Model M keyboards have a different feel than the UltraNav; they’re more crisp and clicky.  I like both styles (especially the Lenovo keyboard on my laptop), and both are much better than the typical, mushy keyboard.

Sometime I do want to try a mechanical keyboard, probably something with Cherry MX Blue keys such as a Leopard.  I find illuminated keyboards interesting; I’m pretty sure I’d want a tenkeyless one with Cherry MX Blues (unlike the Deck 82 which only comes with Cherry MX Blacks)

Although Unicomp doesn’t make a tenkeyless buckling spring keyboard, I’d still like to try a buckling spring keyboard (probably the EnduraPro).

The best resource on great keyboards is, of course,; for example, check out their mechanical keyboard guide.



1 Dave M. { 01.31.12 at 7:46 pm }

I’m pretty sure I commented in your previous keyboard post, but I have to say that I was really disappointed with the IBM ThinkPad keyboard. It’s nothing like the ones on actual ThinkPad laptops. I think I have two, almost brand new, if you’d like them for a ridiculously low price. 🙂

My favorite is still to get a pseudo-ergonomic keyboard like the ones from Microsoft, and then take out the hacksaw and cut out the 10 key portion. I then hot glue an oversized tempered hardboard square where the 10key section was, and I mouse there. Works great!

2 Tony { 02.01.12 at 4:08 pm }

Thanks Dave.

Yes, you did comment on the “Mouse Alternatives” post — and I encourage readers interested in Tenkeyless MS-ergonomic style keyboards to check out your comment there.

I’m OK with the IBM/Lenovo UltraNav keyboard; it’s better than average keyboard, but nowhere near as good as my Thinkpad X61t keyboard. I think a good hack for it would be adding on a few pounds of weight, like the laptops have.

3 Maciek { 02.24.16 at 2:00 am }

Tony, I have question/request. What is motel and part number of black m3 numeric pad form Unicomp, and if possible where to buy :).

4 Tony { 02.24.16 at 6:16 pm }

I will try to get you an answer, but it may take a few days, since I’m currently not using the Unicomps.

5 Tony { 03.30.16 at 1:00 pm }

The keypad I have is a Unicomp Model M, part number 02U0206. You will have to find it used; my keypad came with a used Unicomp keyboard I bought from eBay US.

Good luck!

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