10 best keyboards: Wireless and wired models for quick and easy typing

From quiet models for office work to speedy devices for gaming, there’s something for everyone here

David Phelan@davidphelan2009
Monday 14 September 2020 14:25
We tested for ease of use, set-up and the spacing and comfort of keys
We tested for ease of use, set-up and the spacing and comfort of keys

Keyboards come in two versions, wired and wireless. The wireless keyboard isn’t just so your desk is spared one more cable, although it certainly looks the better for it. 

It’s so you can move it around without snagging on something, put it on your lap if you need to, or type on the other side of the room if you fancy it (which might come in useful if you’re using your computer screen as a TV and messaging friends at the same time).

On the other hand, there are some situations where a cable is necessary: a gaming keyboard, for instance, needs that split-second speed advantage a wired connection offers and some bigger keyboards, especially ergonomic ones, use wires, too.

But for general use, comfort is key, but it’s important to consider sound too. A silent keyboard is useful for office work as a noisy one could make you feel self conscious or annoying to others. 

Are you a Mac or PC user? The keys are in slightly different places, so you’ll need to consider this before choosing the perfect keyboard for you. We’ve reviewed a range of models for both types of device, as well as keyboards for tablets.

We tested these keyboards for speed of wireless connection where applicable and ease of set-up, but mostly our focus was on the comfort of the keys – was the key travel (the distance you have to press a key on a keyboard for a keystroke to be recognised) a smooth experience? Were the keys correctly sized and spaced, and so on? With all that said, here’s our round-up of the best.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. 

Apple magic keyboard with numeric keypad

Backlit keys? No

Wired or wireless? Wireless

PC or Mac? Mac

Dimensions: 419 x 115 x 11mm

Apple’s keyboard is sumptuously comfortable with decent travel and keys which are consistently stable and precise, both of which make for faster and more accurate typing. The extended area includes direction keys, a numeric keypad and more. The gently matte finish also helps the keys fall under your fingers easily. The keyboard is rechargeable and is powered by a supplied lightning cable, the same kind that is used with an iPhone. It recharges quickly and lasts for up to a month or so before it needs charging again (it warns you before it conks out). If you don’t need the numeric keypad, a version without it is also available.

Logitech craft

Backlit keys? Yes

Wired or wireless? Wireless

PC or Mac? Available for both

Dimensions: 430 x 149 x 32mm

Logitech’s deluxe keyboard is pricey but very enjoyable to use. It has a dial at the top left corner which gives access to extra functions, for instance enlarging text on a PowerPoint presentation on Windows PCs, or adjusting the brightness in Adobe photoshop for Mac or PC users. The backlighting in the keys is particularly attractive, lighting up gently as your hands approach the keyboard. The individual keys have concave spots at the centre which, once you’re used to it, makes finding the right key the easiest it can be.

Microsoft ergonomic keyboard

Backlit keys? no

Wired or wireless? Wired

PC or Mac? PC

Dimensions: 488 x 262 x 61mm

This keyboard takes up more desk space than most, because it’s designed to be the right shape to reduce tiredness. It has a built-in wrist rest and keys which have a gap between the left and right halves of the alphabet, so your hands approach the keys from the ergonomically best angles. The front section can be adjusted so your hands are angled downwards rather than up, which is supposed to be better for you. There are also programmable keys for frequently used shortcuts. Big but effective.

Logitech slim folio pro for iPad pro

Backlit keys? Yes

Wired or wireless? Wireless

PC or Mac? iPad pro

Dimensions: 253 x 195 x 23mm/ 287 x 230 x 22.5mm

Apple’s iPads now use an operating system which is designed to make it much more like a laptop, and since there are no touchscreen Mac laptops, they are an appealing and very lightweight alternative to a regular computer. Many tablet keyboards lack backlit keys and sometimes the top row of function keys, but this Bluetooth keyboard from Logitech has both. The keys are comfortable and well-spaced, even on the keyboard for the smaller, 11in iPad pro. The iPad pro is compatible with the second-generation Apple pencil stylus which attaches magnetically to the edge of the tablet to charge it. This keyboard-case hybrid has a latch to stop the stylus being knocked loose in transit, which is a nice touch. Well-built and practical, Logitech makes keyboards for other iPad models, too.

Razer huntsman elite

Backlit keys? Yes

Wired or wireless? Wired

PC or Mac? PC

Dimensions: 448 x 234 x 36mm

This is a gaming keyboard – as you might have guessed from the colourful design – the keys and even the palm rest light up. It uses mechanical switches, unlike some keyboards which have rubbery domes underneath each key. Mechanical keys are louder and clicker, but are designed to last longer. Gamers need the fastest connection they can get, which is why gaming keyboards are almost always wired (this one actually needs two USB sockets to deliver the power it needs).

These keys are also very fast as there is an optical response which transmits your commands as quickly as possible. They are also comfortable to use and responsive, which makes this a  great choice for typing as well as gaming. There’s a dial in the top right corner to adjust volume, too.

Microsoft Surface keyboard

Backlit keys? No

Wired or wireless? Wireless

PC or Mac? PC

Dimensions: 421 x 113 x 19mm

Surface is Microsoft’s premium hardware brand and this aluminium-topped keyboard matches the high-end build you’d expect. The keys are a pleasure to use and respond accurately and easily to the touch. You can type fast with this keyboard. It connects by Bluetooth – which not every computer has – but is a perfect fit with Surface tablets and other devices. The keyboard is battery-powered and two AA cells should be enough to power it for a year.

Logitech K480

Backlit keys? No

Wired or wireless? Wireless

PC or Mac? PC, Mac, phones, tablets

Dimensions: 299 x 195 x 20mm

Logitech’s portable keyboard is lightweight, small and versatile. Not only can you connect it by Bluetooth to desktop and laptop computers, but it works for mobile devices, too. Ideal if you’re only travelling with your phone but have too much typing to do for the glass screen to be a suitable keyboard. There’s a slot into which you can insert your phone or tablet and it’ll angle it appropriately. It works with Mac and PC because although the layouts of the keys differ, the keyboard can handle both (some keys have multiple markings). Two AAA batteries offer two years’ battery life.

Microsoft PZ3-00006 wireless keyboard 850

Backlit keys? No

Wired or wireless? Wireless

PC or Mac? PC

Dimensions: 486 x 227 x 30mm

If all you need is an efficient, simple-to-use keyboard, this wireless one from Microsoft is basic but great value. It has shortcut keys for Windows users, and media keys that make it easy to play and pause music, for instance, at a distance of up to five metres from the computer. The battery lasts around 15 months and a status indicator lets you know when it’s running low.  Wireless keyboards transmit information over the air, which is where it can fall prey to a hacker, wanting to learn your passwords, say. An encrypted keyboard prevents any information being deciphered, and this model is just that.

HP wireless combo 300

Backlit keys? No

Wired or wireless? Wireless

PC or Mac? PC

Dimensions: 465 x 175 x 36mm

This is another budget wireless option and it even includes a wireless mouse in the package. Overall, it’s pretty no-frills but perfectly acceptable and comfortable to use even for long periods. It has a built-in wrist rest to support you, too. The keyboard is encrypted so nobody can intercept your typing and the mouse is designed to work as well in the left hand as the right. There are handy shortcut keys, five at each side of the keyboard, too. Unlike many keyboards, this one comes with a number pad at its right edge.

Apple magic keyboard for iPad pro

Backlit keys? Yes

Wired or wireless? Magnetic connector

PC or Mac? iPad pro

Dimensions: 259 x 201 x 22mm for 11in version

The newest keyboard from Apple is for its iPad pro tablet. It works as a protective case for the tablet and is cleverly decked out with a cantilever design so you can angle the screen perfectly. Unlike most other keyboards like this, the keys are backlit – it draws its power from the iPad which connects to it by a smart connector inside. But the best thing is the way the keys feel, which is splendid and exceptionally comfortable. It’s on a par with the latest Apple keyboards on iMac and MacBook pro, for instance. It also has a USB-C socket so you can charge the iPad while you’re typing, using the tablet’s own socket for another connection at the same time.

The verdict: Keyboards 

For sheer comfort, the Apple magic keyboard for the iMac (and the one for the iPad pro) are hard to beat. Microsoft’s surface keyboard is a delight to use. And the Logitech craft is an outstanding all-rounder that will satisfy creatives as well as the rest of us.

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