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Opinion | The small NumPad and Arrow keys on most laptops are a joke

The NumPad and Arrow keys of the Asus VivoBook S15 are smaller, spongier, and more cramped than the main QWERTY keys despite having adjacent extra space for larger key caps
The NumPad and Arrow keys of the Asus VivoBook S15 are smaller, spongier, and more cramped than the main QWERTY keys despite having adjacent extra space for larger key caps
If you rely on NumPad and Arrow keys, then you've probably already discovered that these keys are almost always smaller than the main QWERTY keys on most laptops. The resulting experience is noticeably spongier, more cramped, and usually a pain to use when compared to a proper desktop keyboard. Large 17.3-inch laptops are especially guilty of these smaller keys despite having the space for full-size key caps.

On keyboards for desktops, the majority of them offer a NumPad to be invaluable for productivity reasons or data entry. Similarly, many laptops feature integrated NumPad keys to appeal to the same subset of customers. The biggest difference between them is that laptops tend to include NumPad keys that are much smaller than the main QWERTY keys for spongier feedback and a more uneven or cramped experience.

At first glance, one might assume that laptops have to offer smaller NumPad keys because space is limited. While this may be the case for most 15.6-inch laptops, we find it more difficult to defend for larger 17.3-inch form factors. Far too often do we see large 17.3-inch gaming laptops with cramped NumPad and Arrow keys despite having plenty of unused space along the sides of the keyboard for potentially wider keys. The most recent example is the 17.3-inch Asus Strix G GL731. This $1500 gaming laptop has roomy QWERTY keys as one would expect from any full-size laptop, but the NumPad keys are physically smaller and the Arrow keys are inexplicably even smaller than on most netbooks. There is no reason why such a form factor can't offer full-size keys from left to right.

Some laptops do indeed offer the same key cap sizes across each and every key for a more uniform experience, but these models are far and few between. A couple of examples include the 17.3-inch HP Omen X 17 and 15.6-inch Chuwi LapBook Plus. More laptop designs ought to take a similar approach to NumPad and Arrow keys instead of integrating them as an afterthought.

If you've ever been frustrated at the small NumPad or Arrow keys on a laptop, let us know in the comments below.

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Large 17.3-inch Asus GL731 gaming laptop with small NumPad keys and even smaller Arrow keys
Large 17.3-inch Asus GL731 gaming laptop with small NumPad keys and even smaller Arrow keys
The Chuwi LapBook Plus is one of the few 15.6-inch laptops with NumPad and Arrow keys that are identical in key cap size to the main QWERTY keys
The Chuwi LapBook Plus is one of the few 15.6-inch laptops with NumPad and Arrow keys that are identical in key cap size to the main QWERTY keys
The MSI GT76 is one of the heaviest 17.3-inch gaming laptops available and yet its NumPad keys are unnecessarily narrower and cramped to use
The MSI GT76 is one of the heaviest 17.3-inch gaming laptops available and yet its NumPad keys are unnecessarily narrower and cramped to use
Lenovo ThinkPad T590 keyboard. The NumPad keys are narrower than the QWERTY keys while the Arrow keys are even smaller
Lenovo ThinkPad T590 keyboard. The NumPad keys are narrower than the QWERTY keys while the Arrow keys are even smaller
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 07 > The small NumPad and Arrow keys on most laptops are a joke
Allen Ngo, 2019-07-22 (Update: 2019-07-22)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.