AM Compact Touch's Most Unique Feature Sets It Apart From Other 65% Keyboards

Boutique mechanical keyboard maker Angry Miao knows something about inviting controversy. Whether it's the insistence on putting Bluetooth, batteries, and wireless charging coils into every keyboard it designs or its collective of future art stylings, none of the devices it has created have mass appeal.

Its latest mechanical keyboard, the AM Compact Touch, is the closest the company has come to using a traditional keyboard layout. Originally called the AM 65 Less, it was a way to use the popular 65% keyboard layout while putting its own twist on things.

A 65% keyboard has roughly 65% of the keys of a full-sized keyboard, which has 104 or 105 depending on where you buy it. Some of the keys that are kept are the dedicated arrow cluster, which differentiates it from 60% keyboard layouts.

Angry Miao tweaked a 65% layout into the popular, symmetric HHKB layout and then put in its unique feature — a vertical touchpad on the front edge of the keyboard that takes the place of the arrow cluster.

Inviting to be Touched

Think about where your thumbs rest when not typing or pressing the spacebar on a keyboard. Chances are one or both are near the front edge of the keyboard's case or resting on it.

Now imagine a small capacitive touchpad is right at your thumb tip, where you can freely flick across it. Flick left, right, up, or down to trigger an arrow press in that direction. Holding the thumb down afterward repeats the input, moving the onscreen cursor or seeking through a streaming video feed.

It's a unique hook, and the more we used it in our full AM Compact Touch keyboard Review, the more it made sense. It's overengineered for sure but in a weirdly comfortable way. We've seen some pretty oddball mechanical keyboards that weren't worth the asking price, and that's not the case here, with a low-friction way to use physical arrow controls without moving from the home row or using a preprogrammed layer.

If Angry Miao can build on this functionality to do arrow keys and limited cursor movement like on a smartphone keyboard, the boutique maker could have a real hit on its thumbs.