August 11, 2022

Article
7 min

Everything You Need to Know About Keyboards and Mice

Find the best keyboard and mouse combination for your computer at CDW. Choose between wired and wireless models to meet your users’ needs.

CDW Expert

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Whether you have a desktop computer or a laptop with an external monitor, the right keyboard and mouse combination will help you become more productive and ease hand and wrist strain.  

What to Consider When Selecting a Keyboard

When buying a keyboard, you should consider several factors, such as size, layout, ergonomics and special function keys.

Keyboard Layout and Size

Keyboard layouts vary considerably, although the most common is the QWERTY layout, first used on mechanical typewriters. It's easily recognized because the first row of keys spells out the acronym. Another common layout in French-speaking territories is the AZERTY layout where the A and Z replace the Q and W. Here in Canada, we also have Canadian English and Canadian French layouts.  

The standard Windows® keyboard comes with a number pad on the right-hand side. An alternative layout is the Tenkeyless (TKL) arrangement without the number pad. Windows and Apple® keyboards are mostly the same, apart from different names and positions for certain keys. Generally, you can use either, provided they are USB or Bluetooth® compatible.  

The standard Microsoft® keyboard duplicates the layout and spacing of a typewriter, with keys spaced approximately 20 mm apart. Other possibilities include compact keyboards that use smaller and more tightly spaced keys, which help save space.  

Key Switch Design  

Most keyboards use a synthetic rubber dome or membrane that compresses when you strike the key. These offer a tactile response and are almost silent in use. Some keyboards like the popular Apple Magic® keyboard have a scissor mechanism that operates on the plastic dome. Gamers and people who do a lot of typing often prefer mechanical switches because they have a more robust feel and precise feedback. Mechanical keyboards also facilitate higher typing speeds and last much longer.  

Function Keys  

Function keys, usually along the top of the keyboard, allow users to perform predetermined control system operations in Windows and macOS®. Some keyboards have one or more special function keys to allow you to use them to play media, adjust sound volume, dim the display and switch on key backlighting.

Ergonomics

Standard keyboards have some degree of height adjustment, so you can position the keyboard at the right height for your hands. Another factor to consider is the size and spacing of the keys relative to your hand size. Some people find compact keyboards easier to use, while those with touch-typing training typically prefer full-size keyboards. If you use your computer extensively, consider an ergonomically sculpted keyboard with raised and curved wrist supports, as this can improve wrist and hand comfort.

Gaming Keyboards

Gaming keyboards incorporate additional functionality, such as extra programmable function keys and coloured backlighting. Usually, these are mechanical keyboards with a robust design that withstand prolonged use. Some have different coloured keys, such as red WASD keys, that gamers use to control movements. Although gaming keyboards are often brightly coloured, they are good substitutes for normal typing applications.

Tablet Keyboards

These are keyboards intended for use with mobile computing devices, including Android™, iOS® and Windows tablets. Some, like the Microsoft Surface keyboard, have attachments allowing you to connect the keyboard to the tablet, while others simply connect using Bluetooth.  

Choosing a Computer Mouse

There are several factors to consider when choosing a mouse, including shape, size and functionality.

Shape and Size

Computer mice come in three basic grip styles that allow you to control them with your fingers, palm or a combination of both. It's important to select the right type as some grip styles are better for fast and precise movements, while others offer greater comfort over extended use. 

Palm Grip

A palm grip mouse is large enough for you to rest your entire hand on the mouse. It’s the most comfortable type because you move the mouse with the palm of your hand. This type is good if you have wrist problems.

Claw Grip

This is slightly smaller and when in use, your fingers are arched, hence the name claw. Your palm still rests on the back of the mouse, and the combination of palm and finger control allows for precise positioning.

Fingertip Grip

These are small mice where your palm doesn't touch the mouse, and you control its position with your fingers. Positioning is very precise, and it is possible to move the mouse quickly using your fingers. Some models, like the Microsoft mouse have an ergonomically shaped thumb support.

Optical Versus Laser Mice

An optical mouse has an LED light source and an optical sensor that picks up reflected light as you move the mouse over the mouse pad. They are very precise and work best on a mouse pad. Optical mice are good for gaming because they don't suffer from significant lag when moved quickly across the mouse pad. A laser mouse has a brighter and more focused laser light source that works on almost any surface, including glossy and highly reflective surfaces. It’s a good alternative for most applications.

Extra Buttons

A standard mouse has a scroll wheel and two buttons that work well for most applications, like word processing, spreadsheets and browsing. Some mice have additional buttons that you can program for specific functions. An example of this would be programming two buttons to allow you to switch from one virtual desktop to another. Gaming mice and those used for content creation may have 10 or more programmable buttons. The Apple Magic mouse does away with buttons entirely and uses a programmable trackpad-like surface on the top of the mouse.

Gaming Mice

A gaming mouse incorporates several additional features. These include special aesthetics, aggressive shapes and many brightly coloured buttons. They often have numerous customizable features, including the ability to adjust mouse sensitivity for more precise positioning of the mouse.

Mouse and Keyboard Connectivity

Wired Mouse and Keyboards

Wired mice and keyboards usually plug into a USB-A port, although some desktops still have PS/2 sockets for the keyboard and mouse. These devices are reliable and there's a minimal lag between an input and the cursor moving on the screen.

USB Wireless Mouse and Keyboard

A USB wireless mouse or keyboard has a small wireless transmitter that you plug into a USB-A port. It's compact and there's no cable clutter to worry about. If you buy a wireless keyboard and mouse combo, you'll need only one USB transmitter, but if bought separately, the transmitters require two USB ports.

Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse

You can pair separate Bluetooth-enabled mice and keyboards to your computer and use them at the same time. Bluetooth version 5 allows you to pair up to seven devices concurrently. This removes clutter and avoids the need to use precious USB ports for the keyboard and mouse. Bluetooth mice and keyboards are less sensitive to outside interference than USB wireless devices.  

Keyboard and Mice Combos

A popular way to get a new keyboard mouse set is to buy a keyboard and mouse bundle. Apart from saving money, a bundle ensures compatibility between the mouse and keyboard and, if it’s a USB wireless type, the set will share the same dongle. You have a wide choice of possible combinations. We stock numerous Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse bundles, Microsoft Bluetooth mouse and keyboard combos and other brands at CDW Canada.  

Keyboard, Mouse Wrist Rests and Pads

Once you've chosen your keyboard and mouse set, don't forget to purchase a mouse pad for your mouse. Other useful accessories include gel and other soft wrist rests for both the keyboard and mouse to relieve wrist strain and prevent soreness and discomfort.