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Everything You Need to Know about Chromebox Keyboards

Whether you’re thinking of buying a Chromebox or happen to already have one, could your choice of keyboard make a difference to the way you use it?

hp chromeboxes

That’s a question we’re often asked. Like the Apple Mac Mini and other NUC/Nettops, Chromeboxes are most commonly sold without an accompanying keyboard and mouse.

To answer the question of whether models that come bundled with official accessories offer a better overall experience than those that don’t depends entirely on you: the user.

Virtually all standard USB and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse work with Chrome OS, whether made for Windows, Mac or Android. It’s a versatility that makes switching to a Chromebox inexpensive: most of us have a keyboard and mouse set gathering dust somewhere, so why buy new?

How is a Chrome OS Keyboard Different?

chrome os keyboard image

There are a few key (pun fully intended) differences between first-party keyboards and those made for Chrome.

Glance at a Chromebook and you’ll see all have identical keyboard layouts. Squint a bit more and you notice a number of minor differences compared to a regular alphanumerical PC input device.

For example, being designed just for Chrome, Chrome keyboards have dedicated keys for ‘search’ (used to open the App launcher) and OS-specific functions like page refresh, fullscreen toggle, switching between open app windows, etc.

Chrome keyboards differ in other ways too:

  • Keys are in lowercase letters (in the Roboto font)
  • Larger ‘Alt‘ and ‘Ctrl‘ keys
  • Dedicated ‘Search’ button
  • No ‘Windows‘ key
  • No separate caps lock key
  • No ‘function’ key (or F1-12 labelling)

Despite the divergence in layout you can use a regular Windows or Mac input device without much trouble. The Windows key takes charge of the App Launcher, and some canny finger aerobics will let you use Fn keys in lieu of mapped ones.

But if you’d rather seek out a Chrome OS device, here’s everything you need to know about what’s available and where you can get it. 

Where Can I Buy One?

If you bought a Chromebox without peripherals then first the bad news: finding official accessories can be very hard.

Neither HP or LG currently sell their ‘wares separately, something that frustrates those purchasers who jumped in before the bundle sets arrived. To make matters worse there are currently no third-party Chrome OS keyboards available either.

All is not lost. ASUS and Samsung do sell their Chrome extras separately. If you don’t mind mixing your brands, it’s by far the easiest way to get your hands on them.

ASUS Chrome Keyboard

asus chromebox keyboard and mouse

Model number: 90MS0000-P00010

ASUS’ bluetooth wireless combo comes in a smokey black colour scheme that matches the PC it pairs with.

The battery-powered keyboard uses an chiclet/island style and drops the dedicated number pad to keep a small, Mac-like footprint.

The included optical mouse is not quite as special. It features two click buttons and a scroll wheel. Like the keyboard it is also on the small side. Those of you with larger hands may find using it akin to cupping a pebble!

Amazon (sold by Excalibur PC) and eBay are the best places to find this set on sale in the US. But be warned: it doesn’t come cheap. Expect to shell out something in the region of $70 to get hold of it.

ASUS Chrome Keyboard & Mouse on ExcaliberPC  ASUS Chrome Keyboard & Mouse on Amazon US

Samsung Chrome Keyboard

Model number: AA-SK4PCUB (UK & US)

AA-SK4PCUB-UK-18-0The Samsung Chromebox was released many, many years back, but the accompanying wired keyboard can still be picked up (with some digging) online, and fairly cheaply to boot.

Larger than the ASUS device, the Samsung input device measures a large 40cm x 16cm, and 3cm tall (excluding feet) and includes a dedicated number pad.

eBay is the best place to find one in the US, where outlets specialising in unshifted and open-box stock tend to list them.

In the UK the keyboard can be bought from the official Samsung online store for £21, though as of writing the device is listed as being ‘nearly out of stock‘ — so don’t dawdle.

Samsung Chrome Keyboard on Amazon UK

HP Chrome Keyboard

HP Keyboard and Mouse

HP Chromebox Keyboard and Mouse

Those who bought the HP Chromebox shortly after it launched were excited to see a version bundled with a wireless Chromebox accessory pack appear a few months later.

Shortlived joy; HP has yet to sell the wireless bluetooth chiclet-style keyboard and wireless optical mouse set separately.

Reviews of the peripherals are hard to come by but social media comments say the keyboard is well made and the keys travel well. The arched shape of the mouse has a modern appearance compared to that of the ASUS’ input, and looks a smidgen larger, too.

If you didn’t get the bundle deal it is worth looking on eBay from time to time on the off chance an orphaned set has been listed.

LG Chromebase Keyboard

The LG Chromebase keyboard is also not available for purchase sans the PC, but given that reviews of it aren’t positive, that may not be a bad thing. For example,  of TechRadar says both parts of the combo ‘feel cheap’, with loose keys and shallow travel. “[It’s] not the kind of thing I want to use for banging out endless Google Docs,” he adds.

chromebase keyboard

It remains to be seen whether the new Chromeboxes from Acer and Dell (excluding Chromebox for Meetings) will be released with dedicated keyboards or whether they, too, will appear alone.

As of December, Dell is now offering its own branded Chrome keyboard.

Do you own a Chromebox? What sort of keyboard do you you use with it?

  • Marcell Lévai

    I didn’t even know Chromeboxes exist. When were they announced/released?

    • Boothy

      First one was almost 2 and a half years ago with the Samsung Series 3 Chromebox. Its still good (I have one).

      • Marcell Lévai

        Oh. Didn’t know that. Though I’ve been following this site for quite a long time! I guess the marketshare of chromeboxes must be pretty small.

        • Yeah, and to most, Chromebooks look like a better (VFM) deal.

  • OverlyEquipped

    Wouldn’t that mean that the keyboards are considered outdated because the Roboto font has recently been updated to accommodate the upcoming L release?

    I’m a smarty-pants, I know.

    • Very smarty-pants ;)

    • Maxbuntu

      Droid Sans is clearer than Roboto for keyboards.

  • Joe Anderson

    I had a old laptop with a broken screen in my garage on my workbench. I had an external monitor and used a wireless no name keyboard and logitech mouse. The laptop finally died and I replaced it with a Asus Chrome box.

    I wanted to get a new keyboard mouse combo but have a hard time shelling out $70 for something when what I have though it’s MS based works.

    I mainly use the chromebox for streaming music and research online for projects in my garage. it was cheaper than a PC or laptop and plugged right in to where I removed my laptop from.

  • Justin Freitag

    Google, pls rectify the sad state of chrome-box/book accessories. A quality keyboard and trackpad is all I ask. For now :)

  • Rickey Shortt

    It took me forever to get it, several months after getting the Asus Chromebox, but I have their matching keyboard and mouse. I really like the keyboard a lot. The mouse is not as nice as my Logitech M325 – the scroll wheel and left and right clicks are a little louder than they need to be, and the scroll wheel doesn’t side click – but I nevertheless find myself liking it’s size and form factor pretty well too.

  • Richard Myerscough

    Using a £5 usb keyboard with my Chromebox – it does the job and I’ve not noticed any lack of functionality. Some of those dedicated chrome keys would be nice but far from essential. On a separate note, have had my Chromebox for 12 months now and, other than ease of printing and using the odd MS product like Publisher, I haven’t missed my old PC.

  • I use a Logitech wireless mouse keyboard combo with my Asus Chromebox (non-Chrome specific of course) and it works perfectly. The windows key automatically fires search so its cool :)

  • Ah, I knew it! The Search key is mapped to Super!

  • Allan LoBue

    Using a wireless Microsoft keyboard/touch pad combo on a HP Chromebox here. Works fine and the integrated touch pad helps in the small space I have to put my keyboard.

    Don’t plan on going out of my way to get a Chrome specific keyboard until one with a integrated touch pad surfaces.

  • Maxbuntu

    WARNING! The HP Chrome keyboard I saw uses the same tiny light-gray-on-white characters as the HP 11 Chromebook 1G. The letters disappear on a cloudy day.

  • pauladev

    I got the bundled Asus keyboard with my Chromebox. How do you take a screenshot, as I have no printscreen key?

    • Rickey Shortt
      • pauladev

        Thanks for that Ricky, I omitted to mention that I was using the keyboard also for a Windows computer. I guess there is no way to get a screenshot from that without a Windows key, as the method you sent didn’t work

        • Rickey Shortt

          You’re saying you want to know how to use the Chrome OS keyboard to take a screenshot in Windows, and not in Chrome OS? That, I don’t know if there is any way to do or not, as I haven’t experimented with trying to find a way. Since there is no Print Screen key you may need to find a different way.

        • Rickey Shortt

          You may be able to map another shortcut in Windows using something like Auto Hotkey, or use a third party screenshot tool like FS Capture that can use different shortcuts, plus the latter has far more functionality than what is built in to Windows screenshot tool.

  • hormosapiens

    Cut the crap and tell us what is the keyboard on the first picture and where can I buy it?

    • Jogeph

      You can’t, it’s an old Apple keyboard.

      • hormosapiens

        No, its not.

  • I don’t know how I stumbled back across this article. I just use the keyboard on my Chromebook. The ChromeOS touch-pad short-cuts have become second nature to me, and I’m pretty good with precision. However, sometimes one needs an actual physical mouse. I will either use my Logitech M310, which uses a USB adaptor to connect with an RF signal, a very good one at that too – I have no problems and it uses an ‘invisible optic’ laser, I’ve used it effectively even using a pillow as a mousepad. If I’m feeling fancy, I turn on the Bluetooth and connect the Apple Magic Mouse I picked up a few years ago. I personally like the look and feel of it, the multi-touch surface could be smoother to slide across, but it’s not a big deal, since the Chrome OS system touch pad commands do not work on it. (like swiping upwards with three fingers to bring up all your windows, for instance) The one thing I like most, which is something that actually detracts possible users (aside from the fact that it has no dedicated left/right click – which honestly has not caused me problems) Is the fact that it uses touch to scroll, my biggest gripe with click wheels and scroll balls has always been the maintenance. They collect dust like nobodies business.

  • i’ve tested many keyboard combo devises. and the winner hands down the model IS11-BT05 MINI bluetooth…Amazon has it:
    this keyboard has a trackpad.

    cheap price too.
    very small but once you use it like i have you’ll love it

  • Ross Thomson

    This article says that the Asus Chromebox 90MS0000-P00010 keyboard and mouse combo connects via bluetooth. It that true?

    • Chrome Dragon

      They share a single USB wireless adapter. If there’s bluetooth inside, it’s a shame; there’s no pairing instructions.

      There’s also a weak battery latch on the mouse – first time I opened the battery compartment, the catch broke, and I had to use jewlers’ screwdrivers to close it again. I’m under no illusions that it will ever survive another attempt to open it; it may be outlasted by the batteries, in spite of using AAA cells unnecessarily. (AAs manage 2000 mAh; AAAs hold about 800 mAh for about the same price.)

  • Ryan McFarlane

    While I normally like the Logitech K400 keyboard I actually had to go with a Microsoft Wireless Keyboard All-In-One for my modified Chromebox. It’s the only way I could use the dualboot function (CTRL+D) to get into my Chrome OS. Not crazy about the keyboard keys as it’s more like a Mac but it does the trick. Not a lot of shorcut keys that you can use as it’s primarily for Windows. I got it for under $25 so I can’t really complain.

  • I havn’t heard the term chromebox keyboard. Thanks to the author for publishing a detailed article on it. It gives me efficient knowledge.