A compact keyboard means a keyboard with small and compact size. It is about the size of a laptop keyboard or even smaller. It can be categorized into portable keyboard or mini keyboard, too.
It also means smaller keycap size and shorter keycap distance, compared to full size keyboard.
Compact size and lightweight is the main features of a compact keyboard. To make it compact, extra keys are usually omitted or deleted. For example, there are two Winkeys in a full size keyboard, but in compact size keyboard the right Winkey will often be deleted.
Compared with the 3 areas full size keyboard, it can even be compacted into 1 area, without control keys and numpad. To be more exact, those keys are not eliminated. They are, in fact, integrated into other keys with the use of Fn key.
The distance between keycaps is usually shorter than that of full size keyboard. This is to help save minimize its size too. Keycaps in some case, will be designed into tiny size in order to make the keyboard more compacted.For example, the “Enter” key and the “Space” key is often smaller. This should bring inconvenience for those with big fingers. That may be the reason why compact keyboard is popular among females users: they have slim fingers and they like compact design.
One of the biggest benefits of compact keyboard is that it helps save desktop space. If putting a full size one on desktop, there seems to be not enough space left for you to place anything else on.
It is also an ideal choice for those with desk tray. Tiny size of compact keyboard makes it possible to share room with a mouse. Users like to have to mouse close to keyboard, since that will be easier to reach.
It also serves as a good accessory of laptop and iPad. You may not want to see a big, large keyboard used together with laptop. Compact size seems better.
When you get used to full size keyboards, it may takes quite a time for you to adjust to compact keyboard. You may find some keys hard to locate. Also, you may mistype keys because of limited gap between keys.
Well, the above “disadvantage” may totally not be a disadvantage for those who get used to compact size. They tend to think a full size one will let them type slower since the keycap distance is too large and takes more time to reach for.
It is safe to conclude that the advantage and disadvantage can only be judged by a certain user. They will not be a general rule to decide which type is better.