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 …
HTPC and Service Desk users...
Hard to beat the Rii Mini Keyboard - a palm sized keyboard with trackpad, backlighting and laser pointer built in. Great for the HTPC, particularly if you can get the earlier model with the larger USB receiver for better range.
Also handy for laid-back computer repairs, and for fixing customer computers where the kids have nicked the cordless mouse batteries.
Unless you need to use a PC from some distance away I really don't see why you would want a wireless keyboard. Most spend their entire lives sat on a desk where the wireless feature is utterly redundant. However, more importantly, why are Wireless keyboards SO expensive? A cheapy media keyboard with a wire is £10. A cheapy wireless one is £25. A fairly decent media keyboard is £20. For the wireless equivalent you are getting on for £50 - maybe more. Bluetooth adaptors retail for about £5 so why the enormous hike? In terms of materials I can't imagine there is more than £2-3 between them.
Is this just a case of the sort of people who feel the need to have a wireless keyboard sat permanently on their desk also being the sort of people perfectly willing to shell out £50 for the privilege of said fixed-wireless device so the manufacturers are simply making hay whilst the sun shines?
re: sat on a desk
I do most of my home computing sat in a comfy chair (or cross-legged on the couch) with the keyboard on my lap, but I need to be able to chuck it somewhere if a cat wants to assert its right to lounge. That can mean waving the keyboard in the air while typing, for those bits that the trackball can't manage. For this sort of use a compact ergonomic wireless keyboard is ideal, plus I can use it as a remote for music and video. It's also great fun if you plug it into someone's laptop when they're not looking, and mess with their input while they're trying to do something.
Re: Why Wireless?
According to Amazon there are plenty of mid-range wireless keyboards (some come also with a mouse) from £15-£20, so your £50 price point seems to be way off - unless of course you're buying from PC World or Maplin.
Given that the price difference between a wired and a wireless one seems to be in the region of a five to ten quid and for the latter you aren't constrained by cables and don't get two of them snaking across your desktop, I can see how many people decide to pay little extra.
HP Wireless Elite Unusable
If the keys are in the wrong place, how are you meant to use it? This is seen occasionally when for no apparent reason; the arrow keys and the block above them are rearranged for no apparent reason. Any touch-type will then keep hitting the wrong keys. Overall the keyboard is not really any smaller, so why do this. Avoid!
apple bluetooth & Ubuntu
open a terminal
type sudo gedit /etc/modules
add hid_apple as first uncommented entry
How can you have a review of a wireless keyboard and not mention battery life? Early wireless keyboard mouse combinations needed new batteries all the time, some of the newer models can do years on a single set, where do these fit?
What's the range like? What's the range like with people in the path between the keyboard and the receiver?
Bluetooth isn't a good thing on a wireless keyboard, it's just makes the battery last less time, it means you have to have a power switch, it makes attaching the keyboard to the computer an annoyance.
Only a few of the reviews mention the size of the receiver, I have an Acer keyboard and mouse that came with my revo. The receiver for that works for the keyboard and mouse and just protrudes from the port, you could leave this in a laptop all the time without fear of knocking it. In contrast I have a logitech air mouse which has a dongle that, whilst small, protrudes from the port.
Telling us which keyboards look nice doesn't make a review I can get most of that from the pictures.
Good points... mostly
You're right on most points.
Battery life is crucial although I'm inclined to think that as long as we're only talking of keyboards then batteries can last at least half a year without change (MX5500).
Mice on the other hand are hogs by virtue of their need for constant communication.
As for Bluetooth, I disagree. Bluetooth has proven extremely resilient in interference and has unbeatable range in comparison to alternatives.
P.S. You're right too on the dongle thing. Having snapped a couple of those over the years, it's become an important details for us clumsy people.
More than happy with mine.
@Sorry... - no keypad comment
I disagree concerning the comments on the keypad. I got one of those MS Sidewinders X6 keyboards. It has a detchable keypad that you can plug in either side. I like it because I can detach the keypad and put in the draw. This makes my keyboard smaller. So really, its down to choice. My choice, no keypad :)
Given the productivity ability in these new fangled tablets (no keyboard) and mobile phones (no physical or really small keyboards) could you do a review of bluetooth, folding keyboards?
Love a real keyboard, like the one on an IBM selectric typwriter. There was a machine sadly killed off by the computer, even though many had a digital interface to hook into a computer. Mains voltage for a keyboard does seem a little like overkill!
Well it looks like when it comes to wireless keyboards Logitech has it sussed.
I've tried countless "wireless" and "laser wireless" combos only to be frustrated in no time.
Since the DiNovo and the bluetooth MX5500 I haven't looked back. They're both used right in the middle of interference central (Wireless router, 5 wireless cameras, wireless speakers, wireless DisplayLink etc. Oh, and a phone too) and they never miss a beat, especially MX5500's mouse.
I'm with the old-schoolers of haptic feedback keyboards with their wonderful clicks and old-school reliability design but that's out of the question on a wireless keyboard.
124-key wireless kb's?
I'm using a Maxi-Switch 124-key model - has a double-set of function keys - across the top but also down the left-hand side like in days of olde. Also 5 programmable keys and four more for accessing other special features.
Anyone know of a company still making such a keyboard? Mine's nearing 20 years and I'd like to find a backup for it's eventual demise.
Missed my favorite
The Lenovo Wireless Keyboard N5901 seems to be a niche gadget that so far has been the best for my needs. While its not going to be great for a desktop replacement it has been a great "remote control" replacement for my make shift home theater. Fits in one hand has a smooth trackball and most of the buttons I wanted for home entertainment. If it had a mouse wheel for scrolling on a website it'd be perfect.
I do like the apple keyboard but only for a tablet addition. The lightweight and compact feature makes it portable, stacking the blue tooth to make it an excellent choice.
None of these could ever replace my aging 101 key PS2 IBM clicker (who is turning 21 this year!!!).
My PC is wired into my home theater and I use it heavily for gaming and multimedia. My logitech MX5500 has been absolutely fantastic and the keyboard and mouse or both responsive. The mouse goes 5 days between recharges and the keyboard goes 4-6 months without new batteries (so I have to disagree with the claim that bluetooth uses too much battery).
I switched from a corded G15 and G7 gaming mouse setup when I started using my system from the couch and I have to say, the MX5500 setup isn't quite as good for gaming, but it's still very very good.
Practical wireless - in the other room
Setting up a Linux firewall/RAID/server which is located in the server room (kitchen) - it wasn't running truely headless yet, didn't like all the wires (monitor, keyboard, mouse) so persuaded self that a wireless keyboard and mouse would be worth a punt. Purchased a Logitech MK250 keyboard and mouse set - because they were cheap but not the cheapest, and on sale.
Would suggest/recommend them for similar scenarios as the only time they haven't worked flawlessly was initially when motherboard USB keyboard/mouse support was disabled. This is in a potentially interference rich environment: in an almost direct line over the 3 meters between keyboard/mouse and the USB sensor/dongle are a monitor, speedy PC, metal shelving, sundry accompanying modems, routers, speakers and power cables, a wall, a fridge, a freezer, a stack of USB drives and the server itself.
For all the shiney/clickiness discussed here I'll take the one that works through walls during a reboot.
This ain’t the US of A
Good luck typing £ or € with a mini Bluetooth keyboard. They’re useless for Europe.
Any and all keyboards type whatever you tell them to type.
I live in Switzerland and all my keyboards are qwertz. They still behave and type exactly as a UK keyboard.
That point is only valid if you don't remember where each key is or what it should be under your preferred keyboard layout.
apple bluetooth ubuntu
Worked in lucid.
Doesnt in maverick.
As far as long sessions typing go the lack of num pad begins to annoy. But small size and light weight make it v useful on the sofa
A buyers guide to keyboards
Give a tick for each category. Most ticks == best keyboard
1) Can it be used as an offensive weapon.
A good keyboard should be solid enough that you can grasp it two handed (right thumb on ctrl, left thumb on escape), and smash an intruder around the face with it. It should still be fully usable afterwards.
A good keyboard should be able to go straight in the dishwasher. An excellent keyboard can go in the washer.
When you press a key, there should be adequate travel (there should be enough space between keys, keys should not be small or hard to access) and action (the key should depress noticeably, and should reinforce that the key has been pressed with some sort of click)
4) Abuse (see #1)
A keyboard is your primary interface with a computer. Sometimes you need to show the computer who is boss, and should be able to abuse it by thumping the keyboard.
5) Durability (see #2)
Sometimes, you just don't have time to fix every little thing, so when the reports server has died, your keyboard shouldn't let you down, just because you've poured your latte/coke inside it.
tl;dr? Buy a Model M
I have two and while they look great I can't stand typing on them. Prefer my keys to have a little curvature and not be so sensitive. Also, in this case, slim can be uncomfortable over long periods of typing. Muscles should be used, I don't want atrophy through typing...
For who are you reviewing?
Everything depends. As I use keyboard for work, not for a showoff, but I can do without adding ANOTHER cable on the desk, these are my (rather angry) thoughts on your reviewing piece:
Such a small Enter? Having to press two keys for a basic functionality? And with those unusable direction keys? Not to mention absence of numeric keyboard...
You have to be kidding giving it 95%.
That Apple cramped keyboard is maybe good for someone doing exactly nothing, as in operating their media center, but that's about it. If you like a cramped keyboard, you don't have to buy an additional one. That on your notebook will suffice. Come to think of it - if you have an iPad and a backpack full of iPad accessories, then...
85% with blinking blue LED? This is a showstopper. End of story. Maybe 10% for trying. Next...
90% with no space left above direction keys? HOW COME? This is a waste of little, but otherwise perfectly usable money...
This review is rubbish, to put it mildly. And if those authors, who write such reviews don't start to really think like end users, we'll be stuck with the crap we are served now. Actually, from those keyboards tested, only Fujitsu and maybe Logitech Solar are worth more than 60-70% for general use. And not by much at that (Fujitsu looks a bit better due to keyboard layout). Unfortunately, Logitech forgot how to make interesting and usable wireless keyboards with a volume knob.
I have had an Adesso keyboard (RF) for ~2 years and though I use it more as remote control/browsing on TV, it is amazing. Very reliable, excellent range and battery life (4 AAA). The mouse pad is great. It came for ~100USD I think. It has sleep mode which is interrupted by press/hold Fn key. Love it.
I cut my teeth on Sun hardware.. to me, nothing feel right outside of one of their keyboards. I like the keys resistance, the quietness - the little 'pucker' sound the keys made when typing. My presumably midrange Dell keyboard here is a rattletrap. I dont like all the clatter that comes from it when I get all frenzied with ill thought out rants and the 'I forget that vi command so I'll just repeat these keystrokes 100-times' moments.
I totally dislike the chicklet type keys/keyboards.
Is anyone making anything comparable to Sun?