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Keyboards and Mice

To reduce cord clutter and for other benefits, we generally recommend short-range wireless input devices.  Corded mice, in particular, get caught up on the edges of desks and the items on them.  That's not efficient for working quickly — go wireless!

Three significant exceptions to this advice to consider wireless input devices are:

  1. When setting up the computer's BIOS — it is sometimes difficult to enter a computer's BIOS without a corded keyboard (cordless keyboard radios generally do not initialize quickly enough, regardless whether they use Bluetooth or proprietary “dongles”).  You should therefore always have a wired keyboard on hand for setup considerations as described above.
  2. If you generally type a lot — or frequently for long periods at night, you may want a top-notch “mechanical” keyboard with backlighting.  For these two characteristics, you will have to choose a wired device.  Since dedicated typing workstations generally have keyboards in a fixed location, a wired keyboard is not often an impediment (i.e. the mouse moves, but the keyboard — generally — does not).
  3. (additional) wired keyboards are also great to have on hand for backup purposes (i.e. broken wireless KB or depleted battery, etc.).  Unless it is a “headless” server, without a functioning keyboard your computer is completely useless!

Keyboards

Wireless keyboards

USB “Dongle” Wireless Keyboards

These keyboards offer consistently trouble-free operation and are perfect in situations where USB ports are numerous.

Bluetooth Wireless Keyboards

These bluetooth keyboards are perfect for mobile considerations (i.e. tablets, phones, laptops).  When mobile, you probably have fewer available USB ports — or maybe none at all.

 

 

 

Bluetooth Wireless Folding Keyboards

     no current recommendation

 

Wired keyboards

Most wired keyboards which come with computers nowadays use cheap rubber dome type “switches.”  These generally do not provide great tactile feedback and are prone to fairly early failure due to (among other possibilities) the rubber membrane cracking or ripping due to repetitive stress and/or environmental conditions.

If you want the highest possible keyboard quality, a “mechanical” switch keyboard is what you need.  Fortunately, production levels are up and with increased availability, prices have been coming down over the past many years.  While still much more expensive (4-20x) than the cheap $7 keyboard which come with most computers, these are worth every penny.

Many of these keyboards are described as “gaming” keyboards.  One reason for this is that gamers often have high expectations of their hardware.  With appropriate switches (for example Cherry MX “Blue” or  “Green”) such a “gaming” keyboard becomes the perfect long-form typing companion.  Because the vast majority of our readers focus on office environments, we link here almost exclusively to Cherry MX “Blue” or  “Green” keyboards.  In virtually all cases you can further select the switch type by paying close attention to the options on the corresponding product page.  [Gamers would typically prefer Cherry MX “Brown” or “Red” due to the differing actuation profile in these switches allowing for “easier” key-holds and rapid re-presses as well as their non-clicky nature (i.e. less keyboard sound to “compete” with a games sound).]

A good primer as to what mechanical switches are all about is available at the Keyboard Company.  Two good YouTube videos also illustrate the differences:

Wired keyboards with backlighting

Inexpensive wired keyboards

These keyboards do not have mechanical switches, but they try to mimic the feel of such.  They are significantly less expensive, although in the last case not that much less than the Redragon above.


Mice



Page Last Edited: Sunday, July 30, 2017
Page First Published: July 23, 2015

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