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Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Differences: What Matters?

If you've decided that it's time to take advantage of the convenience and efficiency of a wireless keyboard and mouse combo, you may find that deciding among the various offerings is rather difficult. There are, after all, many similarities among them. Your personal comfort is the most important consideration. Take a look at each design to see how it fits your specific needs. That said, there are a few specifics to keep in mind.

Bluetooth Versus 2.4 GHz Wireless Technology

Before we get too far into the details, let's make it clear that both Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz Wireless Technology function perfectly well for pairing a wireless keyboard and mouse with a computer. The range is consistent at about 30 33 feet (10 meters). That varies with environmental factors such as walls or furniture that may come between the computer and the peripherals, but each system is equally affected. Both product types provide accurate, dependable transmission to the computer, though somewhat less reliably than wired keyboards and mice.

If there's so much in common, is there any reason to select one over the other? In short, yes. Bluetooth provides some advantages over 2.4 GHz radio frequency technology. Because Bluetooth has become such a common standard, it's built into many computers and almost universally into laptops. This means that you don't need any other hardware to make the connection.

If your computer doesn't happen to have integrated Bluetooth, adding a Bluetooth dongle makes it compatible with other common Bluetooth devices as well. Using a 2.4 GHz setup requires the use of a proprietary dongle, or adapter, to get you going. It's small   no larger than a USB thumb drive and often much smaller. It's also as easy to install as making a USB connection. Still, it occupies an available USB port, which could be in short supply depending on your computer.

Ergonomic or Standard

on typewriters. All keys are arranged in a straight line across the device. A standard mouse may take any number of shapes, but all are used by positioning the hand above the mouse to manipulate it. In either case, the wrist is typically turned at an awkward angle, which is a prime cause of carpal tunnel syndrome   the most common repetitive-use injury in modern offices.

The central feature of ergonomic keyboards is to split the letter keys, roughly in the middle, so that your hands, wrists and forearms are at a more neutral, natural angle. This applies less stress to your joints and can help prevent injury. Some ergonomic keyboards are nearly flat, but most feature a rise between the keys, from subtle to extreme, which further aids in achieving comfort.

Wireless mice come in any number of orientations, but the central theme is to put your hand and wrist in a position that enhances and helps prevent repetitive-motion problems.

Scissor Switch or Mechanical Keyboard

Several keyboard technologies are available, but the ones you're most likely to encounter are scissor-switch and mechanical-switch, so named because of the way the keys function. Scissor-switch keyboards are most frequently found on laptops and low-profile keyboards. Two plastic arms arranged like the blades of a pair of scissors are mounted under the keys and they move to activate a plunger. The primary advantage is that key travel is reduced to about 2 mm as opposed to the 3.5 4 mm for other key types.

Mechanical-switch keyboards have a complete switch under each key. Key travel can be as much as 4 mm, but the letter or number is actually activated when the key has been depressed only 2 mm or so. This is a superior option for the best touch typists, in that they can sail across the keys, only depressing them about half way and avoiding bottoming out.

When it comes to choosing a wireless keyboard and mouse, much of the decision is a matter of personal preference. Keeping a few key points in mind will help you make the best decision for your needs.