Like it or loathe it, the keyboard still reigns supreme as the king of computer input devices. With the netbooks of today manufacturers are faced with striking a balance between size and functionality. Some go for the full-sized keyboard that sacrifices some keys, while others simply opt for smaller keyboards. Neither solution suits everybody though, which is where portable keyboards like the EK-76-TP come in. But it's not just extra keys that set this unit apart - it's the surprising location of the trackpad.

The EK-76-TP offers 76 keys, including the full complement of 12 function keys, in a briefcase friendly size of 8.91s x 3.54 x 0.38-inches. The keyboard features a case sealed to IP67 standards to resist the collection of dirt, dust and debris that can be found in most bags, while the lack of any crevices around the keys means the it can be safely cleaned with the disinfectant of your choice. Connection is via USB and the keyboard is Windows and Linux compatible.

And now the odd part. The EK-76-TP has an integrated touchpad with dual buttons, which isn't so strange until you realize you have to flip keyboard upside down to use it. Small plastic legs at the corners support the keyboard when it is flipped over for touchpad use, so the keys aren’t supporting the weight of the device. And it’s probably just as well the EK-76-TP is of rugged construction since we’re not sure how long it would take for us to get sick of flipping the keyboard over before it found itself traveling towards the nearest wall at high speed. To be fair though, the keyboard obviously isn’t designed for everyday use and could save travelers the need to pack a mouse.

The Econo-Keys EK-76-TP is available now for USD$146.