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Wireless Keyboard Buying Guide: Things You Should Know Before Buying

You're tired of tripping over the cables of your USB keyboard and decide it's time to go wireless. In addition to getting rid of annoying cables, a wireless keyboard gives you the freedom to work away from your computer, or from the cramped layout of a laptop. 
We review wireless keyboards and are ready to help. Before you shop, here are some key features you never thought of using a wired keyboard, but you need to know now. 
Form Factor: Full Size or Portable?
For wireless keyboards that sit on a desk or lap all day, for the most part, standard-sized models look like wired keyboards, but don't have wires.

However, one of the benefits of going wireless is having a keyboard small enough to tuck into a bag for a commute or business trip, and flexible enough to connect to devices other than PCs (more on that below). These smaller, flatter keyboards tend to sacrifice typing comfort for portability.
A keyboard with Bluetooth and wireless USB dongles lets you switch between more reliable USB for use with your PC with your phone or tablet.
Today's wireless keyboards connect via Bluetooth, USB dongles, or both. The advantage of Bluetooth is that you can easily connect it to multiple devices. Many Bluetooth keyboards these days support multiple devices, so you can use it on your laptop, phone, or tablet without having to constantly re-pair. 

The main weakness of Bluetooth is the occasional glitch. If you've ever noticed that your Bluetooth headphones or speakers suddenly won't connect to your phone, you'll know what we mean. This isn't usually a problem, but when it does, it can drive you nuts.
We tend to find wireless keyboards that use a dedicated USB dongle to be more reliable in most situations. Keyboards are usually pre-paired with a tiny thumbnail-sized USB adapter that slides into an available USB-A port on your computer.
The main disadvantage of USB wireless dongles is losing them, which happens more often than you might think. Many new laptops today also offer only one USB-A port, or none, which means you'll have to start juggling -- or buy a hub to expand your ports. (PCWorld reviews USB-C hubs for exactly this purpose.)
The best of both worlds is a keyboard that supports Bluetooth and USB. While generally more expensive, they're a great option for those who use multiple devices and want the stability of a USB dongle.
Wireless keyboards require their own power supply. The two most common options are rechargeable and battery powered.
Most low-cost wireless keyboards use AA or AAA alkaline batteries. They often last months or even years before needing replacement and are readily available. When you least expect it, their weakness is dying - the store is closed. Alkaline batteries also carry a slight risk of corrosion, which can damage the keyboard.
Looking for a wireless gaming keyboard?
The last option to consider is whether you need or want a "gaming-grade" wireless keyboard. Yes, it is indeed a thing. Gaming-grade wireless keyboards offer lower latency through their USB or Bluetooth connections, greatly reducing the delay between pressing a button and receiving it to the computer.

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