Wireless keyboards are the norm now for most computer users.
But are they really a better choice, or are you using one just because it looks cool?
Wireless = Modern and therefore = Good.
That’s not necessarily the case though.
Let’s look at why.
Should You Get A Wired or Wireless Keyboard?
Wired mechanical keyboards are preferred by professionals who need consistent and fast response times and gamers who cannot tolerate input lag. Wireless keyboards are cheaper to manufacture and tend to be preferred by home and office users.
But there’s more to consider than just that, like if you’re looking for a keyboard for gaming, for example.
Bluetooth vs. RF Keyboard Connectivity
Many people think that Bluetooth and “wireless” are the same thing.
RF or Radio Frequency technology is what’s used in the majority of computer peripherals described as being “wireless”.
They use radio waves to communicate via a radio frequency (RF) with the USB receiver plugged into your desktop or laptop.
Bluetooth (named after a pirate) is also a wireless technology that is very popular with certain types of electronic and computer devices – usually headphones.
But apart from sounding similar, these wireless keyboards are very different from each other.
- Modern wireless keyboards have a maximum range of 30 feet.
- Bluetooth keyboards have a maximum range of no more than 10 feet.
- There are lots and lots of “RF wireless” computer keyboards available for you to buy.
- There are very few Bluetooth computer keyboards available for you to buy.
Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of wired and wireless keyboards.
Pros of Wireless Keyboards
If you’re tired of all those cables snaking their way across and under your desk, then a wireless keyboard eliminates that issue
More Desk Space
Not having cables all over your desk means having more desk space to work on. Minimalists will much prefer this style of keyboard.
A wireless computer keyboard can be used at distances of up to 30 feet from your computer. Whether or not you need to do that is only something you can answer.
Wireless keyboards look cooler. They look more futuristic.
Wireless keyboards are easier to transport to another location, if that’s something that matters to you.
Cons of Wireless Keyboards
Wireless devices communicate using radio waves, and radio waves can and do get scrambled. This is a major downside to wireless keyboards when compared to their wired counterparts.
The problems usually come from other RF devices like headphones, printers, or anything else sharing the same 2.4GHz frequency.
With a wireless computer keyboard, there can be a lag (delay) between what you type on a wireless keyboard and when the computer recognizes that input. This delay is measured in milliseconds, so the average human being won’t notice. Unless you’re a gamer, in which case you will notice.
Wireless devices are powered by batteries. Batteries eventually run out of power and they do this when you least expect it. One of the single most annoying things about wireless computer keyboards is running out of batteries and not having any spares.
Difficult To Troubleshoot
If you have to troubleshoot a wireless keyboard you will need to consider the following as potential sources for your current headache:
- USB dongle
- Driver software
- Physical device
- RF interference
Pros of Wired Keyboards
It is physically and electronically impossible for a wired keyboard to suffer from electromagnetic interference. Except maybe if an EMP is triggered in your area, in which case a faulty keyboard will be the least of your problems.
Wired connections do not suffer from lag in the way that wireless connections can and do. That’s why any decent pro or amateur gaming keyboard is wired – they’re simply better for gaming.
No Batteries Required
A USB device takes the power it needs from a USB port on your desktop or laptop PC. You will never have to worry about battery life or dealing with rechargeable batteries.
Easy To Troubleshoot
These types of keyboards either work or they do not. The only reason they stop working is because they’ve been physically/water damaged, the connecting cable has been damaged or the USB port/drivers aren’t working.
Cons of Wired Keyboards
This is a case of stating the obvious, but using wired devices means having wires all over the place. This can get messy.
Your wired computer keyboard has a maximum range of however long the cable is, which is rarely more than 3 or 4 feet.
Cost of Wired vs Wireless keyboard
At face value, there’s very little price difference between the two.
You can get a basic wired keyboard for about $14, and a similar wireless keyboard costs around $18.
But you have to include the cost of replacement batteries now and every few months from now on.
That means any wireless device (keyboard, mouse, etc) has a much higher cost of ownership over the lifetime of the device.
But even the best wireless keyboard won’t cost you a lot more than $100. Spending any more than that is just clout chasing. Or you have more money than sense.
The best wired keyboard?
You can spend $500 if you want, but $250 should be more than enough to buy anything that’s just not ridiculously overpriced.
What Keyboard I Use (and why)
My personal keyboard is a wired SteelSeries Apex mechanical keyboard. I prefer wired keyboards because I got tired of dealing with lag, interference, batteries dying, etc.
Yes, there’s cable clutter but I care more about productivity than aesthetics.
Do I use it for gaming or work?
Both, and it does a great job when I’m writing blog posts like this or logging on for a quick blast of some multiplayer FPS.
But the main reason I settled for a wired keyboard is because I got sick and tired of troubleshooting wireless models.
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