Epictronic’s iPazzport Wireless Mini Keyboard with Touchpad is designed to appeal to owners of home theater PCs and streaming boxes.
On the surface, iPazzport looks similar to Riitek’s excellent Rii i8+ Mini. But how does it compare in actual use? We put this wireless keyboard through its paces to find out.
- Before we begin: Since nobody wants to read “iPazzport Wireless Mini Keyboard with Touchpad” every time I mention the product, I will shorten it to “iPazzport Mini”. As always, Flixed purchased the iPazzport Mini directly from Amazon and has no relationship with Epictronics.
- 1 Mini Keyboard/Touchpad Combo
- 2 Design and Usability
- 3 Keyboard design and usability
- 4 Touchpad design and usability
- 5 Other buttons and lights
- 6 Using the iPazzport Mini
- 7 Who is the iPazzport Mini for?
- 8 Overall Review: 8
- 9 The Final Word
Mini Keyboard/Touchpad Combo
Epictronics makes the iPazzport Mini and other small wireless keyboard devices. Epictronics’ Amazon landing page doesn’t give you any further details about the company. The Epictronics website is just a blank Shopify page with an Oregon address in the corner.
Lack of info about a product and the company that makes them normally sends red flags flying. Yet, the iPazzport Mini has garnered several thousand reviews, most of them favorable. Epictronics may just be a name on a mailbox somewhere, but the company seems to deliver the goods.
Price and specifications
An iPazzport Mini costs about $15 on Amazon. Epictronics gives you a choice of four other colors: white, gold, rose gold and space grey.
Though each iPazzport Mini color variation has a slightly different price, they all have the same exact specs:
- 92-key QWERTY keyboard.
- Integrated multi-touch touchpad.
- 2.4GHz wireless (w/ USB dongle).
- Removable lithium-ion battery.
According to the product description, the iPazzport Mini works with Android TV boxes, Raspberry Pi 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PCs and Amazon’s Fire TV — but not the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Unlike the Rii i8+, the iPazzport Mini lacks Bluetooth. Your device must have a USB port in order to connect the iPazzport Mini’s wireless dongle.
What the people say
The iPazzport Mini is clearly popular with Amazon’s customers. More than 2,500 people left four or five-star reviews. Only 521 people left two or one-star reviews.
The positive comments all center on the way the iPazzport Mini eliminates the inconvenience of a full-sized keyboard in the living room. Searches and logins are much easier with an iPazzport Mini and it doesn’t clutter up the room.
Most of the negative comments come from people whose iPazzport Mini stopped working after weeks or months of use.
Design and Usability
Mini keyboard makers face a tough challenge: they have to squeeze a full-size keyboard experience into a much smaller package. Once they figure out the form factor, they have to ensure that the keyboard works with mobile, desktop, and other operating systems.
What’s in the box
The iPazzport Mini comes packaged in a clear plastic clamshell package. Fortunately, you don’t need a chainsaw to tear it apart. The plastic shell pops open with very little effort.
Everything you need to get started comes with the keyboard, including a triple-headed USB cable and an instruction manual.
You may need to read the instruction manual a few times to decipher it, but it’s not too bad. Diagrams point out some of the unique button functions, explain what various icons mean and identify the touchpad’s multi-touch functions. These extra details were sorely missing from the Rii i8+’s documentation.
The instruction manual also adds macOS and Linux to the iPazzport Mini’s device compatibility list.
The triple-headed USB cable has a mini-USB connector and a full-sized Type A connector. You can use the connectors to either charge the keyboard or turn it into a wired keyboard.
The third head of the USB cable has a Type A extender which you can use to connect the USB dongle.
iPazzport Mini design
At first glance, the iPazzport Mini looks exactly like the Rii i8+. The flat, game controller-like shape makes using it comfortable to hold and easy to set on a coffee table.
One minor downside to the flat shape is the lack of a contoured grip on either side. This is not a device that you want to hold for extended periods.
The iPazzport Mini does not have a soft-touch plastic coating like the Rii i8+. The slippery surface makes it more likely to slide off the sofa or across a table.
There’s a panel underneath the keyboard. It slides open, but not the way you’d think. You don’t press and slide the panel like most electronic devices. Instead, you need to use your fingernails to pull the panel out in the direction of the arrow.
Removing the panel reveals the USB dongle and the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. You can replace the battery, but the replacements cost as much as the iPazzport Mini itself.
Fortunately, the iPazzport Mini accepts two different types of batteries. In a pinch, you can pop in a couple of AAA batteries to keep your keyboard going.
Keyboard design and usability
Unlike a full-sized keyboard where each row is aligned differently, the iPazzport Mini’s keys are laid out in a grid.
Despite that layout difference, the QWERTY layout remains. Most of the keys are where you would expect them on a PC keyboard. There’s even a “Win” key to open the Windows Start Menu.
A few keys are placed wherever the engineers had extra space. The +/= and -/_ keys, for example, are on the bottom row between Ctrl and Alt.
The iPazzport Mini’s keyboard differs slightly from the Rii i8+’s. Epictronics did not map the Fn + function key combinations to as many applications. Fn+F1 pairs an iPazzport Mini with the USB dongle. Fn+F2 through Fn+F6, however, are blank.
Practice makes perfect
With a little practice, you can adjust to the different keyboard layout. You will find yourself at times stretching your right thumb to the left side of the keyboard. There is only one shift key, so any Shift+ combination will tie up your left thumb.
This is not a keyboard anyone will use to write the next great American novel. It’s only meant to be used for those times when a remote control can’t get the job done. The iPazzport Mini’s small size and convenience far outweigh any awkwardness in typing.
One thing that seems to be consistent across all these small keyboards, however, is the small spacebar. It is easy to miss while you’re typing. On a full-sized keyboard, the spacebar spans half a dozen keys.
The iPazzport Mini’s space bar is very small, but it is more sensitive compared to Rii i8+’s spacebar. That’s because Epictronics placed three separate switches beneath the keyboard’s spacebar.
No matter where on the spacebar your thumb hits, the iPazzport Mini will detect it. The single switch beneath the Rii i8+ made its spacebar much more inconsistent.
Touchpad design and usability
A small touchpad is centered above the iPazzport Mini’s keyboard. It supports several touch gestures:
- Single-finger swipe: move the cursor.
- Double-finger swipe up/down: scroll in a document or browser.
- One-finger tap: left mouse button.
- Two-finger tap: middle mouse button.
- Three-finger tap: right mouse button.
There are two pairs of mouse buttons. Left and right mouse buttons sit to the left of the keyboard. The other pair bracket the touchpad itself.
You can toggle the touchpad’s sensitivity if you find yourself swiping constantly to move the on-screen pointer. The Fn+Spacebar combination cycles through three sensitivity levels.
Pressing the Fn key and the touchpad activates the touchpad’s scrollbar.
In general, the touchpad responded well during my testing. If you switch between devices on a regular basis, however, you may need to adjust the sensitivity on each device.
There’s a column of buttons on each side of the touchpad. On the left, you have the left mouse button, mute, stop, and home. The home button takes you to a browser’s home page or the home screen in a TV interface.
The right-hand column has the right mouse button, context menu, search, and return. Within a TV interface, the return button takes you back to the previous screen.
The media pad on the left controls your device’s audio/video playback and volume. A row of very bright LED’s beneath the media pad communicate the device’s current status. While charging, it glows bright orange until the charge cycle finishes.
Every key you press triggers a blue LED. The blue LED also flashes during the pairing process with the USB dongle.
A directional pad at the top right handles navigation.
Although the iPazzport Mini will go to sleep to conserve power, you can extend the battery life even more by using the on-off switch. It’s located on the front edge along with the mini-USB port.
Using the iPazzport Mini
Without a Bluetooth connection, the iPazzport Mini is limited to devices that support USB. That eliminates most smartphones and tablets. The Roku Streaming Stick and the Amazon Fire TV Stick are off the list as are all versions of the Apple TV.
macOS: OK with a few quirks
The iPazzport Mini worked fine with my Mac. OK, to be honest, my first attempt failed. Once I turned the keyboard on, though, it worked fine.
People who use a Mac Mini as their home theater PC will find an iPazzport Mini a nice replacement for Apple’s mice and keyboards. The keyboard will work just as well with Windows or Linux-based home theater PCs.
The macOS operating system maps the Windows-centric keyboard layout of an iPazzport Mini to Apple’s keyboard format. The “Win” key, for example, works as Apple’s command key.
Most of my issues with touchpad happened when using it on the Mac. Epictronics decided to require three-finger taps to trigger a right click. That’s a lot of fingers aiming for a small target. It’s not impossible to use, but it is awkward enough that you’ll just use the mouse buttons.
The other issue I had was with the touchpad’s sensitivity. Lightly brushing the touchpad with a finger didn’t always work. You need to press your finger onto the touchpad and then swipe.
PlayStation: Missed connections
Epictronics only claims compatibility with the previous generation of game consoles, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. I still have a PS3, so I connected the iPazzport Mini’s USB dongle to see how it works.
The PlayStation 3 automatically recognized the iPazzport Mini without a trip into the setup menus. The directional pad lets you navigate through the PlayStation interface, open media files, and launch apps.
The iPazzport Mini does not, however, map to the PlayStation control buttons. You won’t replace the PlayStation controllers with this keyboard – even when just playing media. It’s the kind of thing you’ll reach for only when the virtual keyboard appears.
My PS3 did not lock up while using the iPazzport Mini. I had to reset my PS3 twice while testing the Rii i8+.
I did lose the keyboard’s wireless connection at one point. Turning the keyboard off, unplugging the USB dongle, and starting over fixed it.
Despite that one minor glitch, I can see the iPazzport Mini becoming a handy tool for entering login credentials and performing other tasks that requires text entry. Some of the user reviews show the keyboard works with consoles less ancient than mine.
Android: A must-have
I pulled out the Matricom G-box Q3 that I reviewed in December to see how it works with iPazzport Mini. I didn’t like the Matricom G-box Q3 when I first tried it out. Because I didn’t have much luck navigating G-box Q3 with Rii i8+, I didn’t have high hopes for the iPazzport Mini.
I was wrong.
The iPazzport Mini worked perfectly. It addressed all the inconveniences inherent to Matricom’s half-TV-half-mobile version of Android. The directional pad quickly navigated through the TV interface and launched apps at a tap of the OK button. Whenever the mobile interface turned my TV into a giant tablet, the touchpad got the job done.
If Matricom had bundled a wireless keyboard like the iPazzport Mini instead of its miserable stock remote control, I might have actually given it a positive review.
Who is the iPazzport Mini for?
Mini wireless keyboards are meant for a limited range of scenarios where convenience outweighs any awkwardness imposed by the odd layout. Here are a few scenarios where the iPazzport Mini make sense.
Home theater PC owners
Passwords, web addresses and desktop interfaces are unavoidable aspects of the home theater PC experience. Regardless of the desktop operating system you build your home theater PC on, this product will make that experience better. The iPazzport Mini lets you make settings changes and all the other maintenance a desktop operating system requires.
Every once in a while a game console will throw up a virtual keyboard. Rather than arrow back-and-forth, using a wireless keyboard gets the job done much faster.
The iPazzport Mini worked fine on the PlayStation 3 and reportedly works well on the PS4 and various Xbox models.
Since the iPazzport Mini requires a USB port, it isn’t the best keyboard to use with smartphones and other mobile platforms.
The iPazzport Mini’s flat shape and small size, however, is ideal for laptops. With an iPazzport Mini, you can control your laptop from afar while streaming Netflix in your hotel room.
Android-based set-top boxes
Quality Android devices like Nvidia’s Shield use the official version of Android TV, which provides a made-for-TV interface.
Most of the low-end set-top boxes on the market, however, use the mobile version of Android. It doesn’t take much effort to slip out of a remote control friendly environment and into one that treats your TV like a giant, touchless tablet.
The iPazzport Mini can help you get the most out of a cheap Android box. You’ll still run into compatibility issues with apps, but the overall navigation is much easier.
Classrooms and conference rooms
Epictronics promotes the iPazzport Mini’s as an option for classrooms and conference rooms. But whether or not the iPazzport is the best product for the job is another question altogether.
I’m not sure the iPazzport Mini has the long-term reliability for a business environment — and whether it has the durability to handle the classroom is an open question. The iPazzport Mini is cheap enough to be disposable. However, other products could be more cost-effective over the long term.
Raspberry Pi set-top boxes
Because of its small size and inexpensive price, the iPazzport Mini could be a good option for people building a Raspberry Pi home theater PC based on Kodi or Plex.
Epictronics claims that its iPazzport Mini is compatible with the Raspberry Pi 3. Amazon even pairs the keyboard with a Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit. According to the reviews, the iPazzport Mini seems to work well with the Raspberry Pi 3.
However, the latest Raspberry Pi platform has Bluetooth built into it. If you plan to use a wireless keyboard exclusively with your Pi-based home theater PC, then a Bluetooth model may make more sense.
Overall Review: 8
Packaging and design: 7
Overall, Epictronics did a good job with the way it packaged and designed the iPazzport Mini. The instruction manual is relatively easy to decipher. The documentation could be improved, though, with clearer explanations for some functions.
Keyboard design and usability: 9
The compact nature of a mini-keyboard means touch-typists will never use it for daily work. However, for the purpose it’s meant to be used, the iPazzport does a great job. Placing the extra switches beneath the spacebar is a nice touch that compensates for its hard-to-hit size.
Touchpad design and usability: 7
The touchpad worked fine most of the time, but it occasionally failed to register a swipes. Home theater PC owners with average-to-large fingers may not like the three-finger tap needed to trigger a right click, but other buttons will handle that.
Because it’s so cheap, there’s very little risk to buying an iPazzport Mini. Unlike the Rii i8+, the iPazzport Mini lacks LED backlights, integrated Bluetooth and a soft touch finish. On the other hand, the Rii i8+ is twice as expensive.
An iPazzport Mini gives you all the basic functions you need. At the same time, it’s cheap enough that you won’t be too upset if something goes wrong.
The Final Word
The iPazzport Mini Wireless Keyboard and Touchpad has a lot going for it. It has some minor usability issues and could benefit from better documentation. For the price, though, the iPazzport Mini is an extremely affordable way to improve your home theater experience.
However, travelers who need a wireless keyboard for their smartphone or tablet should look elsewhere. So should owners of Apple TVs or other USB-free devices.
Overall, though, the iPazzport Mini is a very solid keyboard that comes in handy when you need to type text into your TV.