Peripheral manufacturers pay a lot of attention to gamers and often tailor their products to that audience. Fancy backlighting, copious mechanical switch variety, and over-the-top designs characterize gaming mice and keyboards, but many of these features can range from useless to flat-out annoying in everyday use with non-gaming apps.
Rapoo, however, is a Chinese company that specializes in high-quality peripherals for productivity users. Its 8900P cordless combo features a keyboard and mouse that use 5GHz wireless technology instead of the more common and crowded 2.4GHz band. It also features a price that varies wildly: The desk set was $79.80 on Amazon as we finished this review in late December 2017, but we’ve seen a nearly $50 spread from lowest to highest price online.
Regardless of price, Rapoo prides itself on elegance. The E9270P keyboard included in this set won the iF Design Award in 2013. But is Rapoo’s design brilliant, or does it just get in the user’s way?
The Rapoo keyboard supplied with the 8900P set sports an aluminum alloy front cover and a stainless steel back cover. The keyboard has chiclet keys—flat, square, and rounded at the edges—which are common on flatter keyboards. Above Rapoo’s keyset is a plastic, black bar that conceals several motion-activated LEDs, each of which accompany a touch-sensitive media “key.” The bottom edge of the keyboard features some attempt at a wrist rest area, adorned by the Rapoo logo, but the strip is far too narrow, hard, and flat for wrist respite.
The mouse is Rapoo’s 7800P Wireless Laser Mouse. The top of the mouse has a gunmetal finish and showcases the Rapoo logo near its bottom edge. Next to the left mouse button is a small bar that, by default, uses Windows’ Magnifier to zoom in or out.
The sides of the mouse have a rubber finish to provide a better grip. The right side has a concave shape in which to rest your thumb. Above this concavity lie the forward and back buttons. On the mouse’s bottom, you’ll find three feet, along with a laser emitter and sensor and an on/off switch. The mouse’s lower half houses a battery compartment in which you’ll find a small space to store the set’s shared wireless USB dongle.
Performance and Features
Just touching the LED bar along the top of the keyboard activates the illuminated buttons for volume adjustment, media pause/play, forward or back skip, and opening your computer’s music player. While this sounds like a cool feature, the LEDs only light up when you touch them. Since every function is unmarked on this blank plastic strip, you often end up accidentally touching the wrong button and activating the wrong operation.
Like most office keyboards, the E9270P has rubber domes underneath its keys. While mechanical keyboards are more satisfying to type on, their loud clicking (depending on the switch type) often annoys coworkers. Thus, near-silent rubber domes may be better suited to office use. The chiclet keys are a nice touch for those particularly fond of laptop keyboards. The E9270P also features a menu key next to the right Ctrl key.
The biggest problem with this keyboard is its very low profile. Rapoo’s E9270P is almost completely flat, making it a poor choice for the ergonomically sensitive. The closest edge is all but even with the underlying desk, making the significant height difference between most third-party wrist rests and the keys quite awkward. Our long hours spent typing this review and other work were punctuated with time-consuming breaks brought about by sore wrists. In fact, when you Google “carpal tunnel syndrome,” the resulting image shows a keyboard with a similar profile and appearance to that of the E9270P.
The Rapoo kit has its own software that governs both the keyboard and mouse, so we’ll start by discussing the keyboard-specific features. While driver software is normally an exciting discussion point—no, really—Rapoo’s software is a little bare-bones. Still, it offers a few worthy talking points. You can assign media functions to a desired key or macro. The software comes with a macro editor, and the ability to trigger media functions at the end of a macro can be quite useful for certain users. All that said, the profusion of Chinese text in Rapoo’s ostensibly English-language driver implementation left us slightly confused and wondering if we were missing important information.
The mouse comes equipped with your standard left, right, backward, and forward buttons. Behind the scroll wheel rests a small button for changing from 800 dpi to 1,600 dpi. Those are the only resolution options; you can’t customize them. However, the most interesting feature on this mouse is the aforementioned magnifier/zoom switch, located to the left of the left mouse button. We’ve mostly ignored this Windows function for many years, but having it literally at a fingertip has given us a new appreciation for its utility. The 7800P mouse is right-handed and weighty—design choices that will be appreciated by those who prefer heavier mice.
We should point out that the first 8900P set we received had a keyboard with an A key that only rarely registered its keystroke. The replacement sent to us by Rapoo performed flawlessly. Both components run off of AA batteries, and we had no problem with power draining over weeks of use.
Rapoo’s 8900P combo features a wireless keyboard and mouse. The latter is a pretty solid piece of equipment. It operates at 5GHz to avoid interfering with most other wireless device signals, has a useful zoom feature, and sports an ergonomic, curved design. It’s definitely worth your money.
The keyboard, however, is rather lacking in comparison. While the metal surface, LED strip, and low-profile design try to make it look slick, we found it rather plain. However, it’s easy to imagine business executives liking the “corporate” look. This unit would be at home on a smoked-glass desk surrounded by stainless steel and glass décor. While the LED media “keys” are a great touch, we wish Rapoo had used some kind of motion sensor to light them up rather than the same touch sensor used by the buttons themselves. Alternatively, they might have made an area beside the buttons touch-sensitive for activating the LEDs, or even used raised icons in the plastic panel face. The keyboard’s profile is too low, as it provides no comfort or support for long hours of typing, and the bottom of the keyboard is so thin that any wrist rest will be awkwardly tall next to it. For a keyboard arguably meant for extended use in the workplace, Rapoo seemingly made little attempt to address ergonomic practicalities.
All things considered, if you need a good mouse, the 7800P would be a decent choice. As for the keyboard, if we worked in an office wherein making an impression on visitors mattered, Rapoo’s set would fit right in. One could argue that Apple’s Magic Keyboard borrowed some of this flat aesthetic when it debuted in 2015, so, clearly, this design has devotees in some segments.
For the vast majority of PC users, though, the Rapoo 8900P is an odd duck—especially at some retailers’ $99.99 or more, which can snag you two separates from Logitech with way more functionality. If you can find the set for $75 or $80, we’d say it’s a fair value, and if you need to make a statement with the look of your computing equipment, this could be a good fit. For us, we prefer more purpose-built gear with greater attention to users’ long-term comfort.
The Rapoo 8900P wireless desk set offers a solid mouse, but the keyboard, while sleek and svelte, lacks ergonomics and value.
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