2

Our primary computer is hooked up to the big-screen TV in our living room. It's used for a variety of purposes, including watching streaming services like Netflix, playing games, browsing the web, writing documents, and all those usual things one uses a computer for. We've had this arrangement for many years (probably over a decade, across several computers), and while some keyboards have worked well enough for what we do we've never really found a keyboard we've been thrilled with.

Requirements:

(in rough order of priority)

  • Robust
    • We have five kids. We use the couch. The keyboard gets dropped, sat on, stepped on, and generally abused in every way one might imagine. While I expect we might need to replace it every few years, we shouldn't need to replace it every few months.
  • A physical on-device power switch
    • We need to be able to turn off the keyboard when not in use. Otherwise, toddlers and cats will end up typing all over our documents.
  • Compatible with Windows 10
  • Physical Navigation Keys
    • It should have arrow keys, PgUp, PgDown, Home, and End keys. They don't necessarily need to be in a standard location or orientation, but shouldn't require a lot of crazy Fn+Shift+whatever combinations in order to use.
  • Wireless
    • It needs to reach at least 15 feet from the computer, and be reliable.
    • The computer does have Bluetooth built in, so a keyboard that worked over Bluetooth would be better, all else being equal, if only because then it wouldn't take a USB slot with a dongle.
    • In order to be reliable at this distance, even if it's not Bluetooth I'm assuming it would need to be 2.4 GHz. Though if there's another protocol or frequency I'm not familiar with that would work just as well, that'd be fine.
    • Our current computer (an Intel NUC6i7KYK) only has 4 USB ports total, so minimizing use of them is kinda nice (though not required as we could get a USB hub we we need to). Most of our keyboard and mice have been using the Logitech Unifying system, which is rather nice. If whatever we ended up needed a USB dongle but either worked with that, or was a similar system that allowed for upgrading different peripherals over time, that would be a nice-to-have.
    • It should connect fairly quickly once turned on. It's fairly common when using the computer with kids on our laps to turn it on for typing something quick, and then turn it back off.
    • You may be surprised how low Wireless is down the list. Well, if there's a way to do it wired that we can snake the whole distance around the room and back of the couch, that'd be okay too. I'm just assuming that wireless will be the easiest approach, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
  • "Handleable"
    • I'm not sure what term exactly to use for this, but one needs to be able to set it down, pick it up, set it on one's lap, and use it comfortably. Some keyboards we've tried don't have much room to grip it by without hitting keys, or they don't rest easily on one's lap. It's often used at funny angles with children on our laps.
  • US Standard QWERTY Layout

Nice to have:

  • A light indicating Caps Lock
  • Available from Staples
    • I'm an employee of Staples, so obviously it's my first choice for this sort of thing, and I get a small discount if I buy from there.
  • A neutral color
    • Your typical keyboard black or grey is fine. It'd be kind of odd if it were in bright colors.
  • Full-sized layout
    • It'd be nice if the keys aren't all squished and are their standard size.

Budget:

We'd prefer it to be under $50 (US), though would be willing to spend more if there was enough evidence that it would last for a significant length of time.

What we've tried:

  • The low-end Logitech models, such as the MK270. The older versions (which used the Logitech Unifying System) are what we've been happiest with in the past, and were surprisingly robust, working for years even after several corners were chipped off. The current versions of them, though, use their own dongle (not a part of the Unifying System), and don't withstand the abuse quite so well.
  • The Logitech K360. We've been really happy with these functionality-wise in terms of being "handleable", in that it's easy to grab and use. The main problem is that we've broken two in the past year, so they just aren't robust enough. In particular, their power switch seems prone to breaking and being stuck on (so that even when you switch it to Off, the keyboard is still actually On).
  • The Logitech K375s. We tried this for a while, as I wanted to try out a Bluetooth keyboard, but were just really unhappy with it. It's hard to grasp the bottom to use it with the edge tapered down there and it wasn't very "handleable". It also just felt light and flimsy.

Other keyboards we've researched:

  • Ones that are designed to be "Media" couch keyboards, like the Microsoft All-in-One Media Wireless Keyboard, Logitech K400, or Kensington K75390US. In fact, the Microsoft one specifically claims to be durable. But they don't have the physical navigation keys, might be a bit smaller than we'd ideally want, and the touchpad just seems superfluous. While we'd probably use it on occasion if we had one, we're pretty happy with using the mouse on the armrest of the couch. Often when browsing the web a mouse is really all that's needed.
  • Fundamentally, no keyboard is built to withstand heavy abuse. Some are better than others, obviously, but be prepared to have to replace it sooner rather than later. Maybe investigate finding/creating a "home" for it that it always goes back to when you're not using it? That might help reduce the abuse it sees from being sat/stepped on. You may also end up spending more than $50 if you're aiming for robustness - the really robust keyboards have a steel backplane, which ain't cheap. – ArtOfCode Jan 26 at 0:36
  • @ArtOfCode Sure, and like I said I'd be willing to spend more if I had high confidence that it would last. I was hoping that somewhere out there was somebody in a similar situation who could say what worked for them. – user10608 Jan 26 at 17:54
1

Logitech K400 is great.

I tried some other fancy keyboards first but this simple Logitech one works best and has best range too. Good example how cheaper could be better.

Also small size with mousepad.

Also does not cost much if kids/pets destroy it.

  • Thanks for the recommendation. You don't find the size too small, or the lack of easy navigation keys and number pad to be problematic? – user10608 Apr 21 at 20:34
  • I never use numpad except for special ASCII codes and I am not sure if most people know how to. Don't need navigation keys but there should be some with Fn key + function key. Keys are big enough for most people unless you are grizzly size. – Jari Ylilahti Apr 22 at 16:53
  • If this is any help many modern laptops have similar size keyboard, like HP envy for example. Function keys have also similar extra navigation thingys with extra Fn key at bottom. – Jari Ylilahti Apr 22 at 16:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy