Nobody likes having a desk cluttered with cables, so it’s no wonder wireless peripherals are so popular. Wireless mice are an obvious winner, as it’s easier to move that pointer without a cable snagging on your cup of coffee, but the more sedentary keyboard can also benefit. Why leave a lead sprawling across your tidy surface, after all? What’s more, you might want a keyboard that can work across a range of devices, covering your desktop PC, laptop and any tablets you use on the go. The best wireless keyboards are designed to do exactly that, or help you browse the web on a TV, games console, NAS or media streamer.
There are wireless keyboards for every need and every budget, and we’ve rounded up our top picks below. We’ve also assembled some useful buying advice, to help you find the ideal wireless keyboard for whatever it is that you want to do.
How to choose the best wireless keyboard
Wired PC keyboards are one thing, but your choice of wireless keyboard should begin with the computers and devices that you plan to use it with. Why? Because connectivity is crucial. Some wireless keyboards work over Bluetooth, which means they’ll play nicely with nearly any laptop, tablet or Mac computer, but not all desktop PCs unless you buy in a Bluetooth adapter. Other wireless keyboards connect using a specific, bundled USB dongle (which you have to be careful not to lose). These will work with almost anything that has a USB port, but aren’t ideal if you want to use a tablet or some ultraportable laptops, where you might not want to occupy the only USB port. A few keyboards support both types of connection, but check before you buy or you could end up with a keyboard you can’t use.
Once you’ve worked that out, it comes down to style. On the one hand, you’ve got traditional keyboards with raised, clicky keys. These tend to have more travel, which makes it easier to be sure that every keypress is registered, but they’re usually bigger and heavier and can be more tiring to use over long periods. On the other hand, you’ve got chiclet or tile keyboards, with low-profile, square keys and the mechanism hidden underneath. These tend to be smaller, lighter and quieter, with a good, fast typing action, but it’s not always so clear that you’ve hit the key hard enough for the keypress to register, which can lead to documents full of typos. These are now so common on laptops that most people are used to them, but many desktop keyboards still stick with the traditional style.
Aside from these, there are ergonomic variants, in which the keyboard has a curving profile and/or split design for increased comfort, although the feel and the layout can take some getting used to. Media keyboards include extra buttons for volume, brightness and audio/video playback, and some keyboards have a built-in trackpad for use where a mouse wouldn’t be practical. There are keyboards designed to be near-silent and gaming keyboard with mechanical switches built for speed and accuracy during online gaming sessions. There are also portable models designed to be as small and light as possible, so that you can carry them in a bag and use them with a tablet. In every case, you need to think about what your intended use will be as well as the keyboards you like and hate using on any PCs or laptops you already use. Keyboards are a very personal thing, and what works for one individual might not work for you.
What else should I look for?
Take a good look at the layout. If you’re used to working on a keyboard with a big space bar, a large return key, full-sized shift and Ctrl keys or a separate cursor layout, you’ll be surprised how aggravating not having these can be. Pint-sized function keys can also be a problem, and we’ve come across keyboards where the F1 to F12 keys doubled up as media control keys and wouldn’t work unless you pressed a specific Fn toggle, which is hugely annoying whether you’re working in Word or playing online games.
Some additional controls are a bonus. Media playback and volume controls can be a plus, as can customisable keys for launching specific apps. Logitech’s Craft keyboard even has a dial you can use to make adjustments in design applications. It’s not worth paying for extras you won’t use, but sometimes the little things can make you more productive.
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The best wireless keyboards for PC and Mac
1. AmazonBasics Wireless Keyboard: The best budget wireless keyboard
Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon
Can the AmazonBasics Wireless Keyboard match the class of the Microsoft Surface Keyboard or the feel of the Logitech K780? Well, no, but it’s not bad for a budget effort. The plastics feel a little cheap but the construction’s reasonably sturdy, and the compact design and quiet membrane switches make it a simple, unobtrusive typing tool. The left-Shift is a mite too small, but otherwise the layout’s free from problems and the function keys also double as media control keys when you hold the Fn key down.
The AmazonBasics connects via a USB dongle, and we didn’t have any issues with setup or annoying disconnects. It’s also powered by a pair of AAA batteries, which Amazon supplies and will be easy to replace. Amazon has even included a battery warning indicator that blinks when they’re running low. Sure, it’s not the best option if you work all day, every day, but if you want a keyboard for casual use on a tiny budget, this is a capable, reliable choice.
Key specs – Type: Traditional; Special features: N/A; Connections: USB wireless dongle; Dimensions: 450 x 142 x 228mm; Weight: 662g
£14.61 Buy now
2. Microsoft Surface Keyboard: The best Bluetooth chiclet keyboard
Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon
Built to match its Surface tablets, all-in-ones and laptops, Microsoft’s Surface Keyboard is a high-tech beauty. The plastic and aluminium construction makes it light but sturdy, and rubber strips on the base hold it securely on your desk. The typing feel is nothing short of fabulous. The light, fast action keeps your fingers dancing across the square keytops, but there’s a weight and travel that you won’t find on a cheap chiclet keyboard, and it’s nice and quiet to boot. Nor has Microsoft made any mistakes on the layout; as long as you can live without an L-shaped Return key, everything’s the right size and in the right place.
It’s powered by two AAA batteries, which sit in the round section that props up the rear of the keyboard and should last for approximately one year. In fact, the only negative is that this is a Bluetooth-only keyboard, so if you’re planning to use it on your desktop P