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The HP 2004 Standard Keyboard stands out for its simplicity. Its key features are durability, practicality and price making it the keyboard of choice for countless customers and businesses.
The keyboard has a standard full UK format layout with the numpad on the right. Underneath, the keyboard is equipped with two prongs at either end to allow you to adjust the position and inclination of the keyboard to your individual preference. These prongs are extendable, meaning you can manually adjust the precise angle at which you would like your keyboard to be positioned.
The connecting cable on this keyboard has a USB plug. This is a step up from some other basic keyboards with PS/2 connectors. The USB connection allows you to use this keyboard with newer PCs and netbooks. This USB connectivit also powers the keyboard meaning an external power supply is not necessary.
The keyboard does not, however, have any inbuilt USB ports of its own as is popular with many of its alternatives. The key reason behind this is the cost as this will be one of the cheapest available keyboards on the market, comfortably coming in at under £10.
Having used the keyboard for a prolongued period of time, I can safely say that durability and reliability of the keyboard is not an issue. I am sure that if I was to continue using the same keyboard for another 100 years (technological advance aside), it would still be as responsive and neat as it is today.
With all these back-lit glossy and curvy gaming keyboards out there, it can be a little difficult finding just a standard functional keyboard for the most basic uses of text input. Coming in at £10 was the HP standard keyboard which attracted me with its simplistic design and USB interface to allow me to form a connection with my Nintendo Wii and chat easily on Monster Hunter 3. The keyboard has me satisfied enough with its simple plug-and-play installation to recommend it as a nice budget keyboard to suit most needs.
Wearing a black and silver theme makes for a fantastic companion to my silver Logitech M305 ( see my review ) along with general colour scheme compatibility with most monitors and other electrical peripherals. Its design is rectangular with rounded corners outlining the standard set of keys that most people come to expect. Each key appears slightly textured giving off very little shine unless in direct sunlight where the keys reflect a large quantity of light proving a little more difficult to view. During the dark, the keys themselves pose difficult to detect, this is made up for with its white lettering. The windows button which opens the start menu gets a little extra treatment over the rest of the keys with a grooved windows logo and shiny background. I do find this keyboard a bit more attractive than most budget keyboards with its clean look and simplicity that is partly an influence to my purchase.
The layout of this QWERTY keyboard is the UK format standard which I'm sure UK residents will be glad to know that they don't need a second look to find the '@' symbol. Complete with a number-pad off to the side, all the standard features are included such as print screen, pause break, page up/down, insert, delete, home, end and a right click button. There are the general symbol keys, directional arrows and F control keys as expected. Along with the locks ( scroll, num, caps ) which have their status indicated by low level orange lights which will not serve as a distraction. The keys themselves are full-sized with a slightly smaller space bar to the likes of the standard Microsoft keyboard which results in smaller overall area. The keys themselves are just as noisy as every other budget keyboard unfortunately but at least is of a deeper tone. They push in nicely without a great deal of effort followed on by a return without sticking. The keys are stubborn to remove by hand as they are firmly locked in place which gives the added reassurance of keys remaining in their place from younger children whom may attempt to rearrange the letter order!
Keyboard elevating stands are hiding on the back of this keyboard that could easily be overlooked considering they are on the reverse of the face that is used to operate the keyboard. The stands are raised into a locked position which will not collapse unless heavy pressure is applied to break these plastic stands. A further hidden feature is that each stand has an smaller inner stand which can be used to elevate the keyboard a distance between flat and full angle. Applying stands makes for a raised keyboard gradually increasing in height away from the user. This makes for a more comfortable position for wrists to rest flat which is necessary without any wrist support to combat Repetitive Strain Injury.
The overall build quality is fairly good apart from having a bit of flex on the upper portion of the keyboard and fragile hinges on the stand, but it will survive falls of a few feet at ease. The white labelling of keys is fairly prone to wear. I haven't used this keyboard as my primary input device and yet the occasional character is beginning to fade. Although a bit heavier than I'd have liked it to have been - the weight of about a generously filled bowl of cheerios ( milk included ) - I've had heavier keyboards for sure. The main buying point for this keyboard was its USB interface. PS/2 was no good to me when wanting to make use of a wired keyboard for my Wii or PS3. Unfortunately the cable is fairly short at 1.8m for laid back play, yet, thankfully just long enough for me to play from the comfort of my X-rocker gaming chair ( see my review ) if pushed forward just a little bit.
If you are sizing up budget USB keyboards for laptop, game consoles, or even just as a cheap replacement, I do recommend the HP standard keyboard to be in the list. With a simple and clean design, multi-height elevated stands, responsive keys and the installation ease of plug-and-play, this keyboard is certainly a good one to have at a price of £10.
~~~ OVERVIEW ~~~
The HP 2004 Standard Keyboard is the basic, bog-standard input device currently shipping with HP Compaq entry-level desktop PCs such as the dx2400. Being that the PC supplied is a no-frills machine, it is little surprise that a no-frills peripheral is included. Remember that this is a PC-only peripheral.
~~~ APPEARANCE ~~~
The keyboard is a fairly innocuous affair with black keys, black housing and a silver highlight plate which occupies the upper third of the unit with a black HP logo in it's centre. The keys are relatively shiny with each letter picked out in white paint. Being a full-size keyboard, the majority of the unit is occupied by the letter keys with a separate numeric keypad set to the right. There are also the usual Function keys (F1 - F12) at the top, and the navigation keys (arrows, Insert, Delete, Home End etc).
At the back of the keyboard, right in the centre, the PS/2 lead joins the main body. The cable is of good thickness and strength to survive rubbing and chafing on your desk and is very well attached to the keyboard to prevent accidental detachment. The connector plug itself is the standard purple affair to aid easy connection to the relevant port on your PC (which will be the same colour).
The underside of the keyboard is completely devoid of interesting features except for the "legs" which allow you to angle the keyboard. There are three settings, completely flat, slightly raised and fully raised - personally I find fully-raised to be the most useful.
~~~ USE ~~~
As mentioned above, the keyboard connects to the PC via PS/2 connector. Being a basic keyboard, all of the drivers required to use this device are automatically installed in Windows and there is no requirement for any further configuration in order to get it working.
Since the advent of Windows 95(!), two additional keys are included; the Windows key which has the same effect as clicking the Start button (among many other things when used in conjunction with other keys) and the "right-click" button which has the same effect as clicking the right mouse button.
~~~ OBSERVATIONS ~~~
This keyboard from HP is very easy to use and is perfectly adequate for every text-entry situation. The keys have a good range of travel and a satisfying click to help your brain register that the key has been depressed successfully. I am only a two finger typist, but this keyboard is more than adequate at capturing my 45+ words per minute and I find it to be perfectly comfortable for extended periods of work.
There are however a few downsides to this unit. The first is that the keys fairly quickly develop a polished face meaning that light is reflected off the top obscuring the letter printed on it in white. For someone who cannot touch-type this makes data entry difficult in sunny conditions (I sit in front of a window). The white text has another downside in that it quickly becomes beige; even the cleanest hands carry some grime and keyboards are notorious for collecting minute amounts of filth and making you look like an animal (ask any owner of a white Apple MacBook for instance). The only other negative for this device would be the PS/2 connection, but if your computer still has PS/2 ports, why waste a valuable USB port on a keyboard needlessly?
~~~ CONCLUSION ~~~
This keyboard from HP is excellent in terms of build quality, ease of use and responsiveness. Granted that it features the ageing PS/2 connector and worse still (for some) is wired, I personally feel that this is an excellent keyboard that does the job of simple text entry admirably. I would definitely recommend this keyboard for anyone looking for a simple and easy-to-use device.
© 2009 ben-lloyd. Please note that this review may also appear on other websites published under the same user name.