back to article Ten... wireless keyboards

I feel sorry for keyboards. Despite tapping away constantly at one, I can't say I give mine any regard. Fairly rapidly, so it seems, they get covered in reminders of our lifestyle excesses and tacky habits. And when our computers are to blame for something, its usually the keyboard that soaks up the frustration. Well, I'm going …

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Volume

The louder a keyboard is the better... it's not a good keyboard unless your colleagues are forced to wear ear muffs!

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I agree...

... those IBM clicky-clicky ones were the dog's. One thing I like to do when i get a keyboard is to swizzle the keys round into the Dvorak layout. It's getting harder with most modern keyboards because the keys from different rows are different sizes, or because some keys have nipple cutouts (GHB on a Thinkpad, frinstance).

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Get one from Unicomp

They'll do you a hard wired Dvorak keyboard in PS/2 for about 50 quid (plus about another 20quid to ship to the UK.. best to get more than one - they're heavy beasts)

Either plug that direct into your computer or buy an Aten UC10KM or an Aten UC100KM to convert it to USB, and you're sorted :)

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Happy

Re: Volume

Ah, you'd be very taken with the old IBM 5251 workstation keyboard then.

Each keypress generated a load <BANG> noise. Skilled typists could get 'em up to sound exactly like a WW1 Maxim gun.

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Coat

Wouldn't recommend.

Unicomp got the keys dead on, but the rest of the board is pretty crap. It's nowhere near as good as the original model m.

Also, if you can avoid a USB converter do so. PS/2 supports full n-key roll-over, whereas USB only supports 6 key.

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Clicks FTW

Not just the Model M, but anything with Cherry's 'blue' switches. Not quite as loud as buckling springs, but personally I prefer them. By Cherry's standards the one reviewed here probably is quiet, though I suspect not as good a keyboard as one of their more conventional ones with 'brown' switches.

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Mattias Tactile Pro

A fabulous Mac keyboard with microswitches under the keys. I've never been able to type as fast as with this beast, but had to retire it when we moved to an open plan office as the clickity-clackety sound could be heard on the other side of the building.

It's USB with two USB unpowered sockets and weighs a ton. A really nice touch is that all the alternate symbols are also marked on the keyboard, so it's easy to find all those weird accents less fortunate languages insist on using.

You have to hunt them down in the UK, but if you're a Mac user who likes a proper keyboard they're hard to beat.

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@John H woods

I've still got a couple I use at home. Even once they fail they make tremendous clubs being, apparently, made from battleship-grade metal!

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Double check Microsoft keyboards

I used to really like Microsoft keyboards but I was given a Wireless Media Desktop 1000 for Christmas.

Whilst it feels nice and works nicely, in Microsoft's infinite wisdom they've relabelled the function keys with little pictures that bear zero relevance to what I actually use the keys for.

To be fair, it does still have the F1..10 labels, but they are written in dark blue (on a black background) above the keys - so they are almost impossible to read.

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And the other MAJOR problem with Microsoft keyboards

There are no gaps between F4-F5 and F8-F9 so if like me you regularly need to find a function key without looking, you're... well, fooked.

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FAIL

MS Keyboards et al

I agree about skimping on the keyboards. I think it's utter BS that there's NOT ONE ergo keyboard in the lot. Check the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000 (can be had for roughly the cost of the Apple keyboard) and it even comes with a mouse! I think the keyboards without a numbers keypad should have been docked points too. Especially if you're going for a "business"-type look'n'feel (yes, I'm looking at the Apple keyboard, among others in this faux review). Now, if you really want to quibble over not having a numpad, you can check out the MS Wireless Entertainment Desktop: the receiver is a USB hub, keyboard and mouse RECHARGE with the dock, backlit keys, power indicator, comes with a mouse, slightly ergo keys...only thing not to love is the MS sticker on the top (and the price), but should have been considered. Utter trash of a review IMHO.

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Happy

PS3?

I'd like my keyboard to have the trackpad built in for PC and PS3 use. Bluetooth essential I'd guess (rather than any old radio dongle) for the PS3.

And ideas guys and girls?

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My Recommendation

By far and away the coolest and slickest wireless keyboard I've seen is the Logitech diNovo Edge.

It's perfect for the living room PC, albeit a little on the pricey side, but works great with the PS3 even if I do use it with my Media PC (XBMC+MythTV) these days rather than the PS3

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Couldn't agree more

I had a Logitech diNovo Edge and it was an amazing keyboard and worth every penny. Shame I spilt coke all over it (It still worked, it was a little sticky though).

However, now I'm using the Logitech Solar K750 and I love it. The keys aren't quite as good as the diNovo but it was half the price and its solar powered (Charge has never gone below 97%). There's something strangely fun about watching the power bar go up and down as you move your hands over the solar panels.

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logitech diNovo Edge

Has everything you need, bar the solar powered option

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pfft.. Pile o'shite

First, the review doesn't mention what form of communication the keyboard requires, which is important when there's plenty of interference in the environment.

More importantly, they're all a bag o'shite. Quiet, spongy keys? Eww..

Here's 50p kid, buy yourself a real keyboard : http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/

Get a lovely clicky keyboard with a variety of layouts and can be customised to your personal needs. Buckling spring rules!

I have tried various wireless keyboards and mice in the past, and have now standardised on a Unicomp Endura Pro and a Logitech MX518 - both wired..

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Anonymous Coward

Apple Wireless Keyboard

Can it be used with a Vista / Windows 7 (64 bit) PC ?

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Jobs Horns

Yes, but...

Yes the Apple keyboard works on Windows 64-bit, as long as your Bluetooth driver works on Windows 64-bit (mine's fine). Beware not only the horrific absence of a 'Del' key, but also no Home, End, Page Up, or Page Down. There are ways to fiddle these with Fn+various keys, but if you're a coder or even just a keen copier-and-paster your productivity will tumble.

My UK Apple wireless keyboard has a £pound sign, but the @ and the " are in the US position, i.e. shift-2 is @.

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Less title

You can use the Apple keyboard with Vista/W7 64-bit.

In fact I have a Macbook here running W7 64-bit under boot camp, with a wireless keyboard to use when I at my desk. It works very well.

However, the issues (not mentioned in the review) are:

If you have the US keyboard, you don't get a £ sign, (as you would expect). The UK version has £, but no #, CTRL-ALT-3 works in most applications, but not Outlook 2007.

On the UK keyboard, € is CTRL-ALT-2 (and marked on the key), but again, this doesn't work in Outlook 2007.

Many keys are not in their usual PC places, which is fine when you're used to it, but a pain if you have to switch from one layout to another.

Otherwise, it's a great keyboard and I find it really nice to type on.

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Alert

Hopefully..

Here's hoping that Windows stays stable during use then - I suspect the finger gymnastics to pull off a ctrl-alt-del would be phenomenal..

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So true

So true, the basics work more or loss, but quickly selecting an entire line o moving to the start of your file/document is such a pain. And again, also no gaps between he F-keys, but there is an eject button on the macbook pro, PRO, like in PRO movie wacher or something.

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Anonymous Coward

@Tom 15

> The louder a keyboard is the better

yay ... bring back teletypes

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Grenade

Pah!

Wireless keyboards are for nunces. I'll take my Model M any time of the week. In fact, I have it stacked on top of my laptop's keyboard most of the time. I like to pretend its broad masculinity is dominating the weedy effeminate Dell keyboard underneath. Actually, it's no pretence at all. This thing effing dominates alright!

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

When I first got involved with desktop IBM compatible PCs, my extended keyboard had keys in certain places that I got used to, and now instinctively expect them to be there. Any keyboard that varies from this layout such that when I know I've hit the key where the 'end' option should be and it ends up deleting something instead, should automatically score 0%.

Any wireless keyboard that forces one to buy a mouse with it, when one already have a brilliant wireless trackball, should automatically get dropped 10% for the manufacturer's damned cheek.

Does that affect your rankings any ?

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Missed one, Microsoft Arc Keyboard

http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=120

I got this keyboard for my TV setup and it's great, it's very very very light, easy to hold with one hand and type with the other and PERRRRRRRFECT for using with your TV pc, or 10 foot interface setup.

I use it with a microsoft wireless mobile mouse 4000, both tiny dongles and although I can't say much about the quality of microsoft software, the hardware is amazing quality, probably cause they buy it and rebadge it rather than build it themselves :) mwhahahah

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FAIL

Is this 2003 again?

I remember when wireless keyboards came out and all us techy types went out and bought them.

Then three weeks later when the batteries ran out during an important moment they then all went in the bin.

I always felt they were a bit of a fad.

Wired forever.

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Afraid so

I remember my first wireless (bluetooth) keyboard experience. Poxy thing kept dropping the connection at the logon screen and I had to plug in a wired one then re-pair it once in. Utter waste of space. Also, 95% for the Mac keyboard seems high. I just hope nobody goes and pairs it with one of their wireless mice - total piece of shit that drops out all the time.

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FAIL

No, this is 2010

The logitech wireless keyboard I've used for the last 2+ years only needs replacement batteries* once a year despite constant use and when the batteries are running low I get several days of warning from the indicator LED.

You're argument makes no sense, it's like saying that you tried TV just once in the 1950s but the screen was tiny, the picture quality awful and it was in black & white.

The lack of desktop clutter that wireless allows is invaluable to me, I wouldn't go back to wired if I was paid to do so. With my monitors mounted on the wall behind the desk with extending brackets I can put the keyboard/mouse in a drawer, push back the monitors and have a completely clear desk to work on if required. Polishing the desk is also considerably easier.

* Pair of rechargeable AAs

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Headmaster

Before anyone says it

Yes, I've just noticed that I typed "You're" when I meant to type "Your", having a wireless keyboard does not improve my typing ability any. In this case it's a case of muscle memory vs brain.

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Stop

Sorry...

but any keyboard without a numpad cannot get 95%. It's a major issues for anyone that deals with numbers.

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Numbers?

My fingers still have EDT keypad editing commands ingrained in them.

So, fortunately, does my customized emacs...

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I like my Apple wireless keyboard...

...as it works great as a remote control for my Nokia N8, when the latter is HDMI'ed into our TV :-)

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A couple of questions:

Which OSs are supported -- any chance of booting into Ubuntu or something and seeing what works and what doesn't, for example?

If you hold a key down in an FPS, for example, do they "get stuck" and need tapping again to turn them off? I've used a few wireless keyboards and they've all done that, but that was years ago and I'd like to know if they have moved on. I realise "serious gamers" probably won't touch wireless keyboards but it would be nice to know if they work OK.

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Your review

Your review focusses more on aesthetics and noise than how they feel when typing. Personally I'm not arsed what the thing looks like, nor whether my colleagues can make phonecalls when I'm typing (frankly if they can't, so much the better). What I am concerned with is can I still use my hands after a marathon of bodging code.

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you *like* spongy keys? eww! (bet you had a spectrum when you were a kid)

At that point I realised how useful the rest of the reviews were going to be to me, given i'm also happily clattering away right now on a unicomp keyboard. Yea verily the spring doth buckle!

(Having said which, I also like and frequently use the current apple chicklet keyboards; somehow they make it work even for a buckling-spring enthusiast, when most others of that ilk are godawful. Must be that positive non-spongy feel they have.)

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missing entry...

Not one split keyboard. While the two without a numeric pad would be fine, for as much money as the Apple is, there should be a separate one included. If these companies want to be innovative, then cut the price on them to something more reasonable. They haven't pushed any envelope in technology to justify the expensive plastic.

Suggestions:

1. Water or soda-pop proof (kids) and not look tacky.

2. Make it easier to clean dust (or cigarette ashes from the neighbor's) from under the keys.

3. Keyboard with an adjustable split.

4. Built in universal remote for the stereo equipment... just sayin'.

5. An occassional color other than silver/beige/black (for the parents).

6. Built in mic for voice commands.

7. M.S. could integrate their Kinect into one.

8. Numeric pad that can be attached to the left side of the keyboard.

9. Encrypted pairing between the keyboard and the dongle.

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Stop

What? No MS Arc?

Very surprised you missed out the MIcrosoft Arc! Easily one of the most pleasing keyboards I've ever used - compact, ergonomic, thoughtful design which gives that Apple a run for its money.

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Missed another one: novatech wireless media touch keyboard

http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/prods/peripherals/keyboards/novatech/nov-mediat.html

For typing on it is *horrible*. Keys are too light, though even then probably not spongy enough for you ;-) feet are so small and the additional rake they provide so slight they're not worth having, especially as they tend to spontaneously fold up again, and the spacebar is so short I always miss it with my right thumb (which is what i usually use when hitting space) which completely destroys my touch-typing.

And yet I'm completely happy with it. After struggling with various remote apps I settled on that as a living-room controller for my XBMC box, where most of the time i'm just using the arrow keys, return and backspace, but occasionally need to type something in or mouse around the desktop (it has a built-in trackpad) usually when an enthusiastically-applied update goes wrong. It's very thin, very light, and comes with a handy recharging dock. Don't expect to get any significant typing work done with it, in its context it's just right.

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Gates Halo

Missing alternative...

Why you got a £30 cheapo Microsoft keyboard when the 'Wireless desktop 3000' is available for £36, I don't know:

http://www.play.com/PC/PCs/4-/9924388/Microsoft-Wireless-Desktop-3000-Keyboard-And-Mouse/Product.html

I have a set, bought my parents a set, and everyone loves it. Good mouse, good keyboard. Uses bluetrack too. Pleasant keys is perhaps a bit loud for your liking!

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Anonymous Coward

Still waiting....

...for a keyboard with a suitable function button for a browser's porn mode.

Would be an interesting symbol on the key....

I personally miss an old Cherry keyboard from my old 286. So much weight behind it, you could bludgeon someone to death.

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Gold badge

MS Wireless Laser Desktop 7000

My current device and very nice it is too.

What's with 95% for something that doesn't even have a piggin' numeric keypad? 57 quid for half a keyboard? I don't think so. Personally I reckon the best thing about sitting at a desk is getting a proper keyboard, the concept of buying something like a notebook board for desk use just seems, well, silly. ...

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@Cameron Colley - what works with Ubuntu

All USB-dongle keyboards should work fine with Ubuntu, and anything really, and those I've tried bear that out, working with no issues whatsoever. You'd expect that, they just appear as normal USB HID devices.

Of course, as someone has already pointed out, the reviews unhelpfully don't clearly state whether the keyboard is USB-RF or Bluetooth; though often it's gleanable from the text or pictures (ie: presence of a dongle).

Assuming the computer has bluetooth, bluetooth keyboards should work too, but here I'm less confident. The only bluetooth keyboard I have is a revision 1 (3 batteries, not 2) apple wireless keyboard, and I had trouble pairing that with Ubuntu Maverick running on a Macbook Pro; specifically, the keyboard's LED just double-blinked at me and I couldn't find what that was about or any workaround that worked. Works fine with the same machine in OSX so it's unlikely a hardware fault. At the same time the Apple Magic Trackpad paired and worked instantly, so this might be an issue with the revision-1-ness of the keyboard I have, and the later, current, model may be fine.

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Only ONE of the ten has a built in mouse?

The real advantage of wireless KBs is you can control your below-the-telly media centre PC from the sofa - but what's the point if you need a separate mouse! OK - a true ubergeek don't need no steenkin' mouse but Win7 is a sod without one and there is a SHOCKING lack of these on the market with one built in. I eventually found the Zippy RF 666 - there are others with more functionality but I frickin' hate touchpads.

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Anonymous Coward

re: built in mouse

For those who prefer soft-touch keys rather than the laptop style, I highly recommend the Accuratus Toughball which is quite similar to the Zippy RF 666 but with more ergonomic curves for hand-held or lap-top use. I've found Ceratech to offer excellent support too.

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Lefties

"A rather novel idea is the built-in trackball at the top right corner clever and with the two mouse buttons over to the left. It takes a bit of getting used to though, and wouldn't be ideal for left-handed folk."

Ahem, lefties that use the moiuse in the right hand have no problems with surfing and drinking tea, eating pizza etc. with the other hand.

(using an ancient Compaq wired keyboard that has a steel plate inside for us who tend to type with fists and forehead - I kill cheap keyboards very quickly)

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well, most of us do

...I've had the odd leftie colleague in the past who insists on using the mouse with their left hand and the keys the other way around; hideous. I'm a "normal" leftie who gets on fine with the mouse in my right hand.

To be honest, most of the keyboards reviewed here are pretty underwhelming. Why no Microsoft Arc? And the Logitech DiNovo Edge should be in there, along with the DiNovo Mini instead of that cacky Expansys thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple wireless keyboard...

it's great. By far the best keyboard I've used. The keys are the same size as a normal keyboard but it only takes up a fraction of the space on your desk.

As it's very thin, it means you don't have to raise your wrists off the desk to use it. It works with Windows 7 (on a normal PC as well as on a Mac).

I suspect you'd miss the numeric keypad if you were a counting type person, but everyone else will get used to it not being there.

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One thing to consider...

At first I hated the flat keys of the Apple keyboards (and now others have copied them as always) but you get used to this fairly quickly -- and they're very easy to keep clean. In fact that was one thing I always hated about computer keyboards, use them a month or two and they get really filthy and are almost impossible to clean. The chiclet things though are different, just wipe along, clean again. Very nice.

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Silver badge

Very useful ratings

Provided you subtract all your score from 100. Seems your idea of a good keyboard is my idea of a useless one.

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