Last updated: July 14, 2020
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A little while ago, I was considering purchasing a wireless keyboard to use with one of my older laptops. Some of the laptop’s keys were no longer working. I really expected the search to be simple. I planned on getting the best-rated keyboard at the lowest price. Sounds easy enough, right? I never got around to getting that keyboard because there so many features and options to consider. I just gave up the search. It is a rare situation for me to become so overwhelmed by options when shopping for a new product that I am unable to choose.
At that time, I was under the impression that keyboards fell into two basic categories – wired or wireless. Essentially, this is true. I have since learned that there are quite a few subcategories. The wireless category is broken down into two more categories – USB or Bluetooth – which can be further be separated into a number of other categories, which are: gaming, those used with smart TVs, those that are used with tablets, and, of course, those used with computers.
Luckily, when choosing a keyboard to be used with a work at home job, only wired keyboards can be considered. This means that your keyboard must be directly connected or hardwired through a USB cable that extends from the keyboard to a USB port on your computer. Wired keyboard options are somewhat simpler.
Things to Consider for Your Work at Home Keyboard
Wired vs. Wireless
Even though a wireless keyboard is not usually acceptable for a work at home job, I want to discuss why wired is preferred. Any wireless peripheral is generally less dependable than a wired one. Here are three reasons why wireless keyboards are not dependable:
1. A wireless keyboard either runs on batteries or has to be recharged regularly while a wired keyboard is powered by its constant USB connection to your computer.
2. When using a wireless keyboard, there can be a slight delay in response between tap a key and the character that you entered appearing on screen or the command being carried out.
3. Some wireless keyboards us a frequency that can interfere with other devices using the same frequency. In turn, other wireless devices can interfere with the frequency of a wireless keyboard.
USB Cable Length
The standard length for wired keyboards is six feet. However, there are keyboards with shorter cables. The length of the cable can affect your office and computer setup. My own wired keyboard has a 6’ cable. Anything shorter would not allow me to arrange my laptop and monitor in a way that is best for viewing for me because the keyboard would need to closer to be plugged into the USB port.
Prolonged typing has been shown to cause strain and fatigue in the nerves and muscles in our hands and arms. Ergonomic keyboards help to avoid these issues by providing features like built-in palm rests, a split keyboard that allows a more natural positioning of the hands, and key placement at a more comfortable and natural angle. Splitting can occur on a single keyboard or with a keyboard made of multiple pieces.
Measuring at less than an inch thick, slim, smaller keyboards are the current trend. They are light, and their keys tend to be quieter. If you are short on room on your desk, a smaller keyboard makes sense. However, if you have room to spare or keyboard tray/drawer on your desk, investing in a full-sized keyboard would be a good idea, especially if you type a great deal.
Number keypad or not
All keyboards possess a row of number keys located above the letter keys. However, many keyboards have an additional set of number keys, known as the keypad, on their right sides. If having a keypad is not necessary for your job, you can purchase a keyboard without it in order to save space. However, if you have a job or business that requires entering a lot of numerical data, a number keypad would be beneficial to you.
I am not referring to the key mechanism known as a switch and describes the inner setup of the keys and buttons on a keyboard. Instead, I am talking about the shape and feel of the keys themselves.
There two common types of keys:
Chiclet – This key type is currently more common than any other. Chiclet keys are small and flat, making them ideal for laptop keyboards and as well as the contemporary slim keyboards of today. They are sensitive to the touch and do not require much pressure to register a response. They also make very little noise when typing.
Mechanical – This key type is a holdover from the electric typewriter and was very common on computer keyboards before laptops were introduced to the world. They are raised and curved for the purpose of cupping the fingertips and make a distinct tip-tap sound while typing. While mechanical keys are not as common as chiclet keys, many people, like me, prefer the feel of a heftier key when typing.
On smaller keyboards, there isn’t a lot of room for extra keys. Therefore, action keys are often combined with other common character keys. For example, on my laptop. all of the volume control actions have been added to Function keys (F1, F2, F3 …).
Color and Lighting
Traditionally, keyboards are have been designed in black. However, silver keyboards with white keys are common now. Other colors like pink and blue are available too. So, you can find a keyboard in your preferred color choice.
Backlit keys – For users who work or game in low light or the dark, there are keyboards with lighting that illuminated from within and highlights the assigned character or function for each key.
RGB LED lighting – Many keyboards that are designed specifically for gaming come with bright-colored LED lights built in. When you install the keyboard on to your computer, you are able to access software that allows you to customize the lighting to your preferred color scheme.
During my research on keyboard features and options, I found that the gaming versions of computer keyboards are just as impressive as the other office furnishing and accessory equivalents that I have discussed here. However, I was surprised to learn that gamers prefer mechanical keyboards over others. This is due to the tactile feel of pressing mechanical keys. I would expect gamers to prefer chiclet type keys because they are sensitive to touch.
One of the distinct differences between a gaming and a conventional keyboard is the ability to customize key functions. You can go into the settings of the included software to customize your preferences in a way that optimizes your workflow.
Your work at home keyboard doesn’t have to be a plain, standard tool. You can choose one that is as unique as you are with features that fit your specific needs and personality. You interact with your keyboard more than any other piece of equipment in your office. By choosing a keyboard that you personally like, you can make your work at home office into a place that you enjoy spending time.
I never did buy a new keyboard. I ended up replacing the laptop’s keyboard instead. It seemed to be the easier way to go. However, if I do decide to get a new keyboard for my work, I think that I will go with one designed for gaming with LED lights and mechanical-style buttons. I love bright colors and prefer the tactile feel when I am typing!
An inexpensive 2-button mouse may seem like a good deal on an accessory for your computer, but considering that it and your keyboard are your most used peripherals, investing in something of quality would be a good idea. For a few more dollars, you can get a mouse with a consistently better performance and ergonomic experience.
In discussing choosing a work at home keyboard, I spoke about what seemed like an infinite amount of keyboard options to choose from. I found that choosing a mouse comes with plenty of choices as well. In fact, many of the features and options that I covered for keyboards above can be easily applied to the search for a new mouse. There are a few distinctions though.
Things to Consider for Your Work at Home Computer Mouse
Wired vs. Wireless
As with other computer accessories, work at home employers prefer that your mouse be hardwired to your computer. Like I mentioned in the case of keyboards this preference is due to wireless mice not having a consistent power supply, experiencing a delayed response between clicking and the action on screen, and using a frequency that can experience interference from other devices.
USB cable length
Having a sufficiently long USB cable on your mouse gives you more flexibility in how you set up your desk and office. A length of 5’ or more should allow you to position your mouse according to your comfort and to be easily maneuverable.
The standard design of a mouse is not ergonomic. It forces the user to hold their hand and wrist in an unnatural horizontal position which can sometimes contribute to stressed and tired joints.
To battle potential injury from continuously working at a computer, different types of ergonomic mice were designed to reduce strained and fatigued hands and wrists. Some mice are designed to promote a more natural positioning of the hand. You can also find some that are stationary and have a trackball that is used to move the cursor on screen instead of having to constantly move the mouse around.
I have small hands and short fingers. I purchased a new mouse and did not think to take this into consideration. However, the mouse is designed for gaming and was somewhat bigger than my previous mouse. After using the new mouse for a short time, I definitely began to notice that my wrist would feel strained after working for a few hours. So, try to choose a mouse that is sized to fit comfortably in your hand.
A mouse’s sensitivity notes how quickly and precisely the cursor moves on screen. It is measured in DPI (dots per inch). A DPI of 1200 is sufficient for most common tasks. Anything lower than that will likely perform with somewhat of a lag for tasks that require quicker movements. If you have a high-resolution display, multiple monitors, or if you are a gamer, you will benefit from a higher DPI. Recent mouse models come with downloadable software that will allow you to adjust your DPI according to your needs and preference. So you can switch between everyday work tasks and tasks like gaming.
Buttons and Controls
Mice generally come with at least two buttons -, a left-button for selecting items on the screen and a right-button for accessing information like menus. More advanced mice offer other button options like side buttons, extra buttons on the top, and a scroll wheel. Mice like these tend to come with downloadable software with options to program each of the buttons with a custom function.
The standard color for computer mice is black. However, you can find mice in an array of colors to fit your personal preferences.
Like keyboards, mice are another computer accessory that gaming designers do well. A gaming mouse is more likely to have an ergonomic design, lighting effects, and possess included software for customizing settings and button functions.
A computer mouse seems to be of such little significance, but can you imagine trying to use your computer without one? I use a laptop but have used a wired mouse along with it for several years now. I prefer a mouse to my laptop’s trackpad. It makes my work more efficient and helps me be more productive.
A good mouse adds to your online experience whether completing everyday work tasks or participating in entertainment activities. Consider all of the specifications and features listed here, especially ergonomics, size, and sensitivity to decide on the best mouse model for you.
Note: Keyboard and mouse combination packages are commonly available. These combos tend to be cheaper than buying each item separately.
Do you like your computer keyboard and mouse? What would you look for in a new one? Let me know in the comments below!