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Friday, October 4, 2019

How to Shop for a Wireless Keyboard

The Logitech K400 Plus
The Logitech K400 Plus Logitech

Shopping for wireless keyboards is a lot more complicated than you’d expect. But between all the weird and wild wireless keyboards, there’s one that’ll suit your needs. Here’s how to find the wireless keyboard that’s right for you.

What Will You Use Your Keyboard For?

Wireless keyboards come in all shapes and sizes. Some are great for gaming, while others are meant to work with tablets and phones. So it’s best to think about why you need a wireless keyboard before shopping for one. That way, you know what features and form factors to look for.

Here are a few common uses for wireless keyboards:

  • Desk Use: If you plan to keep a wireless keyboard at your desk, then you should probably focus on ergonomics and style. You may also want to look at extra features like RGB lighting or Logitech Flow (a platform that allows you to use a keyboard on three devices at once).
  • Portable Use: If you need a wireless keyboard for use with your tablet or laptop, then you should focus on slim form factors. You may even consider a tablet keyboard case.
  • On the Couch: Smart TVs or media centers that are hooked up to computers practically need a wireless keyboard. In this case, we suggest using a wireless keyboard with a built-in trackpad.
  • Gaming: Most hardcore PC gamers use a mechanical keyboard, sometimes with programmable keys and RGB customization.

Once you know why you need a wireless keyboard, it’s time to start honing in on what kind of keyboard you need. We’ll start with the basics (membrane vs. mechanical) and work our way toward the details (ergonomics and special features).

The Basics: Keyboard and Connection Type

A man typing at a wireless keyboard.
Kite_rin/Shutterstock

There are two main keyboard types: membrane and mechanical. They’re very different from one another, and the form that you decide on will dictate what kind of keyboard you can buy (a portable keyboard, an ergonomic keyboard, etc.).

Here are some of the qualities of membrane and mechanical keyboards:

  • Membrane: Most modern keyboards are membrane keyboards. They’re slim and quiet, but they don’t have a lot of physical feedback. In other words, they feel more like the buttons on your TV remote than the keys on a typewriter (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing). These keyboards are best for general use and portability, and you’re probably using one right now.
  • Mechanical: Mechanical keyboards are modeled on the old chunky keyboards of yesteryear. They provide a lot of physical feedback, and they’re easy to type fast on, but they also make loud clicking sounds. Mechanical keyboards have removable keys (so they can be cleaned and customized), and they’re most popular among gamers, writers, and computer nerds. They also tend to have a better lifespan than membrane keyboards (because they can be taken apart), but they’re also more expensive.

Once you’ve figured out what kind of keyboard you’re looking for, you should also take a second to think about connection types. Bluetooth is an excellent option for wireless keyboards (it doesn’t waste USB ports), it’s worth looking for a keyboard that includes a USB dongle if you’d prefer to stick with what you know. (If your computer isn’t Bluetooth-capable, you could always buy a Bluetooth USB adapter).

It’s also worth mentioning that some wireless keyboards have rechargeable batteries. These rechargeable batteries don’t last as long as AA-batteries, but they’re essential in backlit keyboards that can eat through a set of batteries relatively quickly.

Best Mechanical Keyboard

CORSAIR K57 RGB Wireless Gaming Keyboard – <1ms Response time with Slipstream Wireless - Connect with USB dongle, Bluetooth or Wired - Individually Backlit RGB Keys

The CORSAIR K57 is a solid wireless mechanical keyboard with built-in RGB controls, a rechargeable battery, customizable keys, and an ergonomic design.

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