Canyon CNS-HKB4 review - How's the cheapest multimedia keyboard you can find?
Nowadays it’s quite clear that mobile technology has surpassed the plain old computer. Still, there are many cases when it is much easier to get something done using a computer, may that be a laptop or a desktop. One of the most widely used peripheral for computers is the keyboard, as touch-based text entry is just far less comfortable and easy to use. Since most people use a laptop daily, many of us get used to the flat, so-called chiclet-style keys most notebooks have, so why not get such an external keyboard for a desktop computer? Especially when it’s one of the most affordable keyboards you can find. Read this review to get to know Canyon’s ultra-slim keyboard, which might be the solution you’ve been looking for:
Packaging and design
When talking about Canyon’s Ultra-slim Multimedia Keyboard (or CNS-HKB4 , if you prefer model numbers), you should keep in mind that it is a very cheap, entry-level model with very basic features, that is aimed at consumers who just need a simple keyboard that resembles the one on their laptop. That said, don’t expect any bells and whistles either in design nor in packaging.
The device comes in a plain cardboard box that features a picture of the keyboard itself on the front along its name and main features. On the back you can find the same information in various languages and also some contact information for your local distributor.
Inside the cardboard box you will find the keyboard itself wrapped in a thin layer of bubble-wrap protective packaging and two pieces of plastic on either side , to further protect the Canyon CNS-HKB4 from physical damage. Also in the box there is a small Quick Guide leaflet with links to Canyon’s localized warranty websites and some technical information about the keyboard, along with a graphic that might help you plugging in the device, if you’ve never seen a USB connector before.
The keyboard itself is exactly wha t its name tells you: a really slim keyboard with multimedia functions. It’s 18.94 inches (431 mm) long, 7 inches (178 mm) wide and has a height of only 0.47 inches (11.85 mm). It’s not heavy either, as it weighs only 1.29 pounds or 0.583 kg, so carrying it around won’t be a problem if you’re using it as an external keyboard for your notebook.
Canyon CNS-HKB4 is officially compatible with Windows and Mac OS, but we’re quite sure that it works just fine with al most any other modern operating system, like Linux, at least as a simple USB keyboard with basic functions. As you might have guessed, it connects to your computer via its USB port, so it won’t do any good for your tablet - that’s why it’s not called a mobile keyboard.
The keyboard’s design is quite minimalistic: under the 112 keys there is a thin black band that also houses the lights for the Caps Lock , Num Lock and Scroll Lock keys on the right. On the bottom of the keyboard t here’s a palm rest, that could be a bit wider, but it’s still better than nothing. The whole thing is made of mediocre-quality plastic, so you won’t t hink of it as a sturdy piece of hardware, but that’s the cost of being light and very affordable. The keys are black with white marks, while the dominant color of the keyboard is metallic silver.
On the back of the keyboard there are two “legs” that let you fix the device at an angle - I usually use keyboards like that, but in this case, I found it much better to leave it lying flat on my desk.
Layout and usage
The Canyon CNS-HKB4 is a chiclet-style (or sometimes referred to as chocolate-style) keyboard, meaning that the keys are in the shape of small squares with rounded corners and straight sides. They are also quite thin, that’s why this type of keyboard is preferred on most notebooks.
As it is a basic keyboard with some additional multimedia features, it has a classical key layout, notable features being that its main Enter key is of the smaller, thinner variant, it has an Fn modifier key near the right Alt , and there is an additional Backspace key in the top right corner of the numerical keypad. This latter feature turned out to be rather annoying, at least for me, as I am used to having the minus key in that location.
There are a total of eight keys that are used to access multimedia features, including Previous track, Next track, Play/Pause, Stop, Launch music player, Volume down, Volume up and Mute. The latter four are dedicated keys above the numerical keypad, while the first four can be accessed by using the Fn modifier key and pressing the function keys F5 through F8.
There is also a key for opening My computer and the Calculator right above the main Backspace key, while Fn+F9 launches your web browser, Fn+F10 starts your e-mail application and Fn+F12 should probably launch a user-defined application (at least there is a My Favorite feature listed on the product specifications), but it didn’t do anything, and there is no way to configure it.
Typing on the CNS-HKB4 is much like you would expect from a chiclet keyboard: if you get used to it, you can go really fast. Compared to a notebook keyboard, the difference is that CNS-HKB4 is larger, which most probably means better in this case, but you might need to get used to it. The keys are a bit harder to press than, for example, on my HP ProBook, but if you keep the keyboard sitting flat on your desk, you shouldn’t have any problems.
We should also talk about setting up or installing the keyboard, but that is really a two-step procedure: find a good place on your desk and plug it in. There are no drivers and software to install, and a couple of seconds after you plug in the USB cable you are ready to go. Even the multimedia keys work straight out of the box, no configuration is needed. At least they did work instantly on Windows 7 and Windows 10, but these keys are fairly standard, so you’re probably good to go no matter what operating system you have.
Pros and cons
Some positive aspects of the Canyon CNS-HKB4 keyboard are:
- Chiclet-style keys, good for anyone using a laptop
- Low weight, easy to carry around
- Most important multimedia features have dedicated keys
- Simple design, fits any desktop
- Very, very low price
There are of course some weak points of Canyon’s keyboard as well:
- Cheap, mediocre-quality materials
- Unusual layout of the numeric keypad
- Not very good build quality
When I first started using notebooks I felt a bit uncomfortable using the small, flat keys most of them have, but after a rather short while I found out that this is a great layout for typing. And that’s exactly where Canyon’s Ultra-slim Multimedia Keyboard comes in handy: after a short time of getting used to it, you can type really fast on it and the multimedia keys can come in handy during everyday use.
Its downsides are the cheap materials and build quality, and maybe that extra Backspace key on the numerical keypad - that really annoyed me. Aside from these you will get a simple everyday keyboard for very little money, since you can pick up the Canyon CNS-HKB4 for about 10 dollars, which is a bargain. At this price it might be even good for a secondary, travel keyboard, if you don’t want to spend extra money on a Bluetooth keyboard.