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Keyboards Buying Guide

To use a computer means that you are going to have to create a two way form of communication. For example, you need to create a document and so you use the mouse and the keyboard to enter the data required. You simply cannot use a computer without also tapping out commands and data on the keyboard that is connected to it.

In the modern world of computers there are a few forms of keyboards available. There are the cabled keyboards that are plugged directly into the appropriate port on the computer (whether a desktop or laptop); there are the wireless keyboards that use a USB device plugged into a port on the computer and which then communicates with the machine to allow the user to interact with the system; and the replacement keyboards for the systems in which the keyboards have been damaged or cease to function.

For this buyer's guide, we will consider only the cabled and wireless keyboards.

Choosing Your Model

Now, before you start to consider whether you want a wireless or cable connected keyboard for your computer, you must ask yourself if you require a full sized keyboard or if a smaller model will do. What does full sized mean? If you look at a typical computer keyboard that is usually included with a new computer, you see that there are the standard QWERTY keys, and then there are the command keys such as the Tab, Caps Lock, etc. There are also the "F" keys that have a myriad of functions too. Additionally, most will have the keypad that features the numbers and functions such as PgUp and mathematical figures.

Now, is this a style or layout that you require for your day to day use? If so, you have to base your choice in keyboard on that factor first. For instance, you might love a wireless keyboard that has the usual QWERTY keys, but which is missing the numeric keypad area. As you use this keyboard you may begin to realize that it is noticeably smaller, and that even the keys are smaller and less convenient to use. So, in this case, size is a major issue.

Once you decide on the full sized keyboard or a smaller unit, it is time to consider the actual design of the device. Is it just a flat panel with the keys? Does that work for you? Maybe you need an ergonomic design that supports your wrists and holds your hands in an optimal position?  

There is also the need to recognize that some keyboards are designed to work with only a few devices. For example, you may find that you want a large keyboard for your iPad, and that means that the keyboard will not work with any PCs.

Once you know what sort of features and general design your keyboard must have, it is time to decide between the wireless and the cable connected options. This too is something of significance because it can determine whether you are satisfied with the device or actually limited by it. For instance, you might choose a very high-tech keyboard that has to be connected to the computer via a USB cable. This provides a high speed transfer of data, but it means you have to sit near the computer to use it. A wireless keyboard will liberate you and allow you to move a measurable distance from the system and still get a good connection.

When exploring the various wireless and cable connected keyboards, you will usually also encounter further distinctions between the units. For example, there are many cable connected keyboards that are considered to be "enthusiast grade" keyboards. They are loaded with special function keys, and are often constructed of much more durable material that allows for long term use and for the kind of rough handling that occurs during games.

Pricing Options

Naturally, many people hope to base their choice on pricing, but that really isn't the wisest way to go. Instead of buying a keyboard that is substandard or which does not meet your needs, the wiser approach is to follow the steps above. Identify the exact features your will need and use, and then set out to find a few versions. Keyboard prices vary quite widely and the price difference between low-end and high-end might be 8-10 times. Some of the best names in wireless peripherals also make keyboards, and include Logitech, Razer, Kensington, Genius, Samsung, A4 Tech, and many more.

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