19.8 Our Picks
The choice of keyboard is above all a personal matter, but unless you have very strong preferences you'll probably find one of the following keyboards suitable. Here are the keyboards that we use and recommend:
- Standard keyboard
Microsoft Internet Keyboard and Internet Keyboard Pro. If you want a standard straight keyboard, give these serious consideration. The Internet Keyboard uses the PS/2 interface and includes dedicated hot keys to control browser functions and email, as well as two programmable hot keys and a Sleep key. The Internet Keyboard Pro uses the PS/2 or USB interface (Microsoft recommends connecting both simultaneously), adds dedicated multimedia keys (volume, play functions, etc.) and two USB ports on the back of the keyboard. Barbara uses the $35 Internet Keyboard Pro on her primary system and the $20 Internet Keyboard on her other systems. (http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/keyboard)
- Ergonomic keyboard
Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite and Natural Keyboard Pro. You'll either love or hate these "melted" keyboards. Robert loves them; Barbara hates them. The Natural Keyboard Elite is their basic ergonomic model. It uses the PS/2 interface, but includes a PS/2USB adapter. The Natural Keyboard Pro uses the PS/2 and/or USB interface, adds eight dedicated hot keys for browser functions and email, eight dedicated multimedia hot keys, two programmable hot keys, a Sleep key, and two USB ports. Robert uses the $55 Natural Keyboard Pro on his primary system and the $35 Natural Keyboard Elite on his other systems.
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Some say that getting used to the Natural Keyboard layout takes a long time. That was not Robert's experience. He is a touch typist, and became completely comfortable with the Natural Keyboard in an hour or less. He uses Internet Keyboard models on some of his test-bed systems and switches back and forth without difficulty. The major adjustment is that the Natural Keyboard errs in putting the 6 key above and to the right of the T key, where it must be struck with the left index finger. Touch typists learn to strike the 6 key with the right index finger, and the change is a bit disconcerting at first.
- Cordless keyboard (short-range)
Logitech Cordless series. If your keyboard cord gets in the way or you like to work with the keyboard in your lap, a short-range cordless keyboard may be just the thing. Logitech Cordless series keyboards are the best we've seen for that purpose. The $45 Cordless iTouch is a straight keyboard. The $45 Cordless Freedom adds a separate cordless mouse. The $85 Cordless Freedom Pro is an ergonomic version with separate ergonomic cordless mouse. (http://www.logitech.com)
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The readily available cordless keyboards made by companies like Logitech and Intel have a maximum range of 10 feet (3 meters) or so. That's fine to eliminate desktop clutter, but far too short a range for a home theater/computer setup or for presentations. In the previous edition, we recommended a $160 long-range cordless keyboard, but such units have apparently been retargeted toward the business market and now sell for $300 or more. Although we haven't tried it, if we needed long range on a budget, we'd probably use a standard $50 IR (infrared) cordless keyboard with an IR repeater (transmitter/receiver) set like the Powermid, which is available for $50 or so from home automation gear resellers.
- Keyboard-Video-Mouse (KVM) switches
See Chapter 16.
For our most recent detailed recommendations by brand and model, visit: