Choosing the Best Wireless Keyboard to Meet Your Needs
Whether you are purchasing your first or your fifth wireless keyboard, this guide helps you narrow down the most functional selection for the type of keyboard based on the kind of work you do most.
Wireless Keyboard for Tablets and iPads
The keyboard choices for devices such as tablets and iPads often are compact and foldable, with many being built into a case that covers the tablet itself. After all, one of the biggest draws for this type of equipment is the ease of portability. The iPad Pro Smart Keyboard, for example, is a folio case designed to look sleek as a case, protect the iPad Pro screen and function as a full keyboard when unfolded.
Users have two options for their tablet keyboards: a keyboard that's built into a case (like the Smart Keyboard) or a standalone device. Keyboard cases offer the user an all-in-one solution, and with many varieties available there's sure to be something out there for everyone.
However, some users prefer a keyboard independent of the case, which has become a common option. Having a keyboard detached from the case means a user can pick out a case they prefer (some opt for heavy duty protection, others prefer stylize) while still getting the most functionality out of their tablet. This means the keyboard could be used on other devices, such as a laptop or desktop, and if you already have a Bluetooth keyboard for another device you could use it for your tablet or iPad.
It's advisable to ensure getting a separate case to protect the keyboard if you do use a wireless keyboard on-the-go to keep from damaging the keyboard. If you're looking to connect a Bluetooth keyboard you already own, make sure it's compatible with the device you're trying to connect it to — and that the connection will work well. Some keyboards are more optimized for certain tablets than others, so do yourself a favor and ensure you're going to get your sought-after functionality.
Bluetooth Connectivity or USB Dongle?
When choosing a wireless keyboard for your PC, your computer needs to be already Bluetooth-enabled to use a Bluetooth keyboard. Many desktops and laptops already offer Bluetooth connectivity out of the box, but double-check to ensure Bluetooth is available on your device. If it isn't you can purchase a Bluetooth receiver to make use of the keyboard. Bluetooth devices can connect to multiple accessories, which adds to the convenience of a wireless keyboard.
Bluetooth connectivity is a common solution for many wireless keyboard users, but it's not the only one. Other wireless keyboards offer connectivity through a USB dongle. There are some connectivity differences between a Bluetooth keyboard and a wireless keyboard requiring a USB dongle, but the lower cost of a USB dongle can be a primary factor for opting out of Bluetooth connectivity.
Features to Consider in Narrowing Down Wireless Keyboard Choices
Wireless keyboards come in two main connection types: keyboards that rely on RF (radio frequency) and types that utilize Bluetooth for transmission between the device and the keyboard. Once you decide the primary type of connection that is the most attractive, then you can choose more features that matter for your computing needs.
Make sure you get what you want in the design of the keys on the keyboard.
Do you need a full-size wireless keyboard? If you deal with numbers, a keyboard that features a 10-key panel is a useful feature that not all wireless keyboards will offer. This is common tablet case keyboards that will have limited space to begin with because of the specific size they have to be to fit the tablet. A full-size wireless keyboard is tough to fit on a tablet-sized case, so if you intend on using your keyboard with your tablet you may consider a separate wireless device.
The type of switches will also matter to your typing experience, and could impact your productivity. The most common type of key has rubber dome switches which are relatively quiet when typing. Scissor-switch keyboards have two plastic bars that give a spring to the keys and are the quietest choice when typing.
Mechanical keyboard keys are responsive and offer a clack-like sound when typing, similar to a typewriter, and allow for speed. Many mechanical keyboards are also gaming keyboard because of their responsiveness, so if you intend to get a gaming keyboard you may want to consider a wireless mechanical option.
The key designs themselves should have a bearing on your final choice. Flat keys are one of the most simple designs. Concave keys are ideal for heavy usage as they may reduce hand fatigue for some users. Extra-function keys are another useful design element that many users want. They can let users open apps or streamline functions from a single keystroke.
Consider if you want a rechargeable keyboard or one that requires batteries. Battery life is crucial for a wireless keyboard experience, as the last thing you want is to have the keyboard die mid-project or while you're away from a reliable charging option or an extra pair of batteries. For rechargeable wireless options you'll also want to consider recharge time in addition to battery life.
Some wireless keyboards offer a wired option via USB or USB-C so that you can recharge the keyboard and type at the same time, or even turn off the wireless connectivity and type directly through the wired connection. This helps with recharging without limiting usage, and won't stop productivity mid-project.
If you plan on using your keyboard a distance from the display, you need to compare the transmission distance between models. While the average range for a Bluetooth keyboard can top out at around 30-feet, an RF wireless keyboard can meet or exceed that distance depending on the receiver type.
Though you may be quick to think that you won't be typing from a significant distance, keep in mind the setup of some conference rooms: you may find yourself relying on a keyboard to type on a device on the other side of a long room with the screen projected on a wall. Nothing will kill productivity in settings like that faster than a lagging or unresponsive keyboard. Usage plays a key role in range considerations, so make sure you'll get a strong, responsive connection even at a distance.
|RF Wireless Keyboards||Bluetooth Wireless Keyboards|
|A great choice if you want a wireless keyboard but do not want to make the investment a Bluetooth design requires||Generally has more features but a higher price-point than radio-frequency keyboards|
|Requires a USB port to connect a receiver||Needs to use with a Bluetooth-enabled device, does not require a USB port
|The receiver powers your keyboard||The keyboard usually has a rechargeable battery|
|The 2.4GHz connection is a reliable, stable connection||The connection can vary by device, Bluetooth 4.0 and up is more stable than previous releases|
CDW carries a full line of wireless keyboards to fit a diverse array of devices. Use the tips in this guide to choose the best wireless keyboard for your computing needs or talk to one of our experts; we are happy to answer any questions you have.