The mark of a good teacher is often the inability to sit still while the class does its work. With that in mind, teachers should have wireless keyboards to roam around the room to help and encourage students while remaining connected to the class’s projector or large screen display.
With wireless keyboards, teachers can not only control what classes see but work with students individually or in small groups. In a very real sense, it lets the teacher be in two places at once. She continues to control the room’s computer regardless of where in the room she is, making it a simple and inexpensive way to increase the classroom’s connectivity and interactivity.
To help pick the best wireless keyboards for on-the-go teaching, I used four similar devices for several weeks. In addition to creating presentations and Web research, I used them for online curriculum and finding videos. More to the point, I tried each with three different computers (HP’s Chromebook X2, Macbook Air and Lenovo ThinkPad T470) and moved around the room to gauge the range of each.
Any of these wireless keyboards will help get a teacher out of her chair and about in the classroom. Here’re my favorites.
AmazonBasics Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad for Smart TV
As the name implies, the AmazonBasics Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad is simple, rudimentary and inexpensive, but can free a teacher from the tyranny of the desk.
At 1.0-by-14.6-by-5.1 inches and 12.1 ounces, it’s the biggest of the four I tried. Overall, the AmazonBasics keyboard proved to be light enough to carry around the class but works best on a table. The combination of a 4.0-inch touchpad and 19.0-millimeter keys makes for quick typing and navigation although the keys aren’t backlit and there’s no Print Screen key.
It connects to a computer via its included USB transmitter but can’t handle a Bluetooth connection. Powered by an included pair of AAA batteries that should be good for several months of daily use, the AmazonBasics keyboard worked perfectly with the three computers I used and had a 45-foot range.
Solid and competent, the $24 AmazonBasics Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad comes with a 30-day warranty is the bargain of the bunch that falls short compared to the 1-year warranties of the others. It may not have backlit keys or specialty keys, but it is without a doubt the most economical way to stay connected while working the classroom.
Logitech K600 TV Keyboard
Don’t let the name fool you. Logitech’s K600 TV Keyboard is for more than picking Netflix movies on your smart screen because it can help roaming teachers stay connected.
At 0.8-by-14.4-by-4.6 inches and 1.1 pounds, the K600 is a little smaller than the AmazonBasics keyboard, and in fact, works better on the lap or a desk than being held. The 17.9-millimeter keys are comfortable but the K600’s 2.2-inch round touchpad was the smallest and hardest to get used to of the four. It includes handy extras like the D pad in the upper right for moving among on-screen items and media keys but lacks a Print Screen key.
The K600 is unique in that it can connect to three separate devices via Bluetooth or with its included USB transmitter. Its range was exceptional at 60-feet using the USB transmitter and 35-feet using Bluetooth. It worked with the three systems I used and can control Samsung, Sony or LG TVs.
Powered by two AAA batteries that Logitech says should last for a year, the K600 does without backlit keys and its $70 price tag (with a one-year warranty) can be a hard sell at schools.
iogear GKB635W Wireless Smart TV Keyboard with Trackball/fc 2-7
The only keyboard reviewed here to have a trackball instead of a touchpad, the iogear GKB635W keyboard presents a different approach to wireless keyboards.
To start, the keyboard’s 19-millimeter optical trackball responds instantly to the touch and presents an alternate scenario. By rolling my thumb over it, I was able to get more accurate positioning of the pointer than with any of the touchpad keyboards. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, the GKB635W has resolution settings for 600-, 1,000- and 1,600 counts per inch for a variety of tasks.
On the other hand, at 1.1 pounds, it’s just as heavy as the much larger Logitech K600TV and works well in the hand or on a desk. Its 18.6-mm keys are comfortable to use but they lack the K18’s backlighting. There’s a handy scroll wheel as well as keys for controlling multimedia, opening a search window and Print Screen.
Its small USB transmitter connects to a computer or smart TV with a 50-foot range but can’t connect via Bluetooth. It worked well with all three test systems and uses two AA batteries. It has an on/off switch and low-battery indicator.
With a one-year warranty, the iogear GKB635W costs about $43 on Amazon, making it a nice alternative for those who prefer a trackball.
Inland K18 Mini Wireless Keyboard
Small and inexpensive, the Inland K18 keyboard can stay online longer while lighting up a classroom.
At 11.6 ounces and 0.6-by-12.8-by 4.7 inches, the K18 is light and easy to use in my hands, on a table or my lap. Its generous 4.3-inch rectangular touchpad is on the right and the 17.3-millimeter keys are rimmed in white, making them visually stand out. The tiny shift key was the source of several typos at first and took some getting used to.
The K18’s backlit keys glow red, blue or green, making it perfect for teaching by the glow of a projector. In addition to a key for choosing the backlighting color, the K18 has media controls and Print Screen. It can only connect via its USB transmitter and had a 60-foot range. It can’t use Bluetooth but worked with all three of my test systems.
Rather than having to replace its batteries every few months, the K18’s rechargeable battery pack can save money over its life and includes a built-in USB cable for charging. Available at Micro Center stores and Web site for $30 (with a one-year warranty), the K18 may not be the cheapest keyboard but it is the best and brightest for roving teachers.