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My old laptop had a very poor number keypad that really slowed me down when entering data. The buttons were too small and not all the buttons I needed were located in one place. When ordering a new laptop the last thing you really consider if at all is the numerical pad and as laptops seem to be getting smaller so do the keypads. Most of numerical buttons I needed were spread across the top of the keys which allowed them create a laptop with a smaller length. It was really hard to use! After having a moan at work I decided to look through the office stationary magazine and spotted these plug in calculator/ data entry machines. The keypad looked much easier to navigate round and you can have it as a standalone calculator or a keypad. This was exactly what I was looking for so I ordered one and looked forward to giving it a go.
*Price and availability*
The Kensington notebook keypad calculator is available from many different stationary catalogues and stores and is also available online. It costs around £18.00. Depending how you look at it, this is either a cheap price to pay for a tool that will significantly increase your productivity or unnecessary accessory. I have recently been allowed to upgrade my work laptop and was given a 17" one which has a fully equipped 10 key keypad at the side which is much easier to navigate around. I probably would not have bought one if this was the laptop I was given in the first place as I can manage just fine. However, I have got used to the Kensington keypad now and still prefer to enter numerical data through this, not only this; the calculator has many more functions.
This is a review of the USB plug in keypad calculator however you can buy a wireless one that comes with a plug in USB stick to allow you to move the calculator around. I probably would prefer a wireless one; however this was not available when I purchased mine. The keypad comes in a little black velvet pouch with Kensington written on the front. It has a drawstring fastening to keep it secure and so that you can port it around easily. I pop the USB lead and calculator in here and I can then put it safely in my laptop bag. The calculator keypad measures 5.5"L X 1.0"H X 2.75"W. It has a slight angle to the design so that it gently allows you to elevate your wrist while you use it. From the dimensions you probably think it is quite big and it is! The size really helps make it easier to use.
Large easy to use buttons
The buttons are all clearly marked and there is about a good 2 mm between each key. I get really frustrated when keys are too close and you keep accidently hitting the wrong one! The buttons have a slight curve to them which makes it less likely that your fingers will slip. Each button is clearly marked with either the function or the number. They are easy to press without making an annoying clicking sound. You do not need to exert too much pressure but on the same token it is not easy to hit the wrong key instead. At the top of the keypad is the LCD display. This is bright and easy to read, although in really bright daylight the screen does look slightly too light and harder to read, but this nothing that you would not encounter with a regular calculator.
The calculator is USB enabled and comes with a thin, short lead. It is long enough to run the full length of the laptop though so if your USB ports are on the left hand side of the laptop, you can still have the keypad on the right hand side. Obviously for the lefties you can have it on the left side if you prefer. I am left handed but still prefer it on the right.
The calculator does not need any software to run and is simply plug in and play. It is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7 and XP.
As soon as you plug the keypad in, it is ready to go. There is a small button at the top of the keypad that toggles between calculator and data entry mode. The fact that it is easy to switch between modes makes this product so successful for me. I can input data on screen or I can make calculations and then add these after. There are a number of function buttons such as M+, M- % Tax+ Tax - that only work in calculator mode and not data entry. It is mainly the numbers that only work when this mode is enabled. The pad has all the regular numbers in addition to '.' and '000.' This is really helpful and it is much easier to keep track of how many zeros you need if you can in put them in thousands.
At the top of the calculator/keypad is the USB cable. Next to this are two spare USB ports which should allow you to plug other USB devices into it. I like the idea that as the device takes up one of the valuable USB ports in the laptop, the device allows you to use it as USB hub so you are not losing out at all. I can plug my USB mouse in here which I prefer to use than the track pad of the laptop. A downside to this USB port is that it will not read my USB flash drives. I have no idea why this is, but every flash drive I own will not work here.
After struggling with my old laptop keypad and staring at the same Excel spreadsheet for hours and hours I really was starting to lose my patience. This additional keypad made my life much easier as I did not have to spend ages inputting data and encountering problems such as hunting around for the right keys, hitting the wrong number instead or using the ridiculous windows calculator.
It is easy to use as it does everything I need. Although I still need my scientific calculator for some things, I tend to do everything on excel now and a ten key keypad is more than enough. I love how easy to device is to use, simply plug it in and off I go! The buttons are easy to press, large enough to use efficiently and are in one place! It lives in the velvet bag in my case when not in use to prevent damage to it. As with most calculators every now and then it will need a good clean so I use a microfiber cloth to gently wipe over the keys and screen.
This device has proved quite popular in my office and other colleagues have even followed suit and ordered one of their own. If you are looking for a similar looking device then I can wholeheartedly recommend this one.