What is a wireless RF keyboard

Wireless keyboard: bluetooth or radio? A guide.

If you want to save cables at your desk, you have two options with wireless keyboards: radio and Bluetooth. While the underlying technology is the same for both, it makes significant differences which one you choose.

For this article, we will not go into too much depth when it comes to technical subtleties - the whole subject is of course a little more complex than presented here. We primarily want to work out what helps home users make a purchase decision.

Bluetooth and wireless keyboards: basically not very different

Strictly speaking, Bluetooth and radio signals are the same thing: high-frequency radio waves. Ultimately, Bluetooth is just a certain type of radio signal: a standardized protocol that is supposed to create a high degree of compatibility between as many devices as possible.

In order for a device to be able to be called “Bluetooth-capable”, it must meet the requirements of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) - this ensures that wherever “Bluetooth” is on it, there is also a device with other Bluetooth Devices is compatible.

All Bluetooth signals have in common that they transmit in the 2.4 GHz range. At the same time, this is also the frequency that practically all wireless keyboards and mice use. W-LAN and even microwaves also work in the 2.4 GHz range.

Whether Bluetooth or radio depends on your requirements

The type of transmission - 2.4 GHz radio waves - is the same with Bluetooth as with "normal" wireless keyboards (also RF keyboards for radio frequency ) so the same. Neither of the two is definitely superior to the other and what really matters when you decide between the two is, as is so often the case, your individual requirements and what you want to use the keyboard for.

Pure desktop / notebook users drive better with radio

In our opinion, anyone looking for a desktop keyboard for a PC is best off with RF keyboards.

Desktop PCs in particular are rarely equipped with Bluetooth cards ex works. At the same time, bluetooth keyboards will work in just about all cases without Bluetooth dongle supplied. In the worst case, you will have to buy a separate Bluetooth adapter when you buy a Bluetooth keyboard.

Another advantage of wireless keyboards is that manufacturers do not have to adhere to the guidelines of the Bluetooth SIG and can better optimize their USB receivers for the respective devices.

This is particularly noticeable when setting up wireless keyboards. Everything runs according to the motto Plug & Play: if you connect the USB dongle to the PC, the necessary drivers are installed and the keyboard is immediately ready for use. Searching and pairing, as with Bluetooth keyboards, is not necessary.

Two-in-one dongles keep USB slots free

Many manufacturers now also offer dongles that can connect to multiple devices. A combination of wireless keyboard and mouse is most likely - both of which then only need one USB port.

A big model student in this discipline is Logitech with its Unifying dongles, to which you can connect up to 6 Logitech peripheral devices.

Working on multiple computers: not that practical

USB dongles have one disadvantage: without them, the associated keyboards are also useless.

However, you will only know the annoyance of a forgotten dongle if you use wireless keyboards on the go and on different computers. Although many manufacturers have already built a small transport groove for the dongle into the keyboard - you still run the risk of becoming a victim of your own forgetfulness and leaving it in the USB slot.

Bluetooth keyboards are essential for typing on mobile devices

If the device to which you want to connect the keyboard has Bluetooth by default, you do not need to connect dongles with Bluetooth keyboards.

This makes it particularly useful if you want to connect it to a smartphone or tablet, for example - a USB receiver can only be connected in the most cumbersome way. Practically all tablets and smartphones are also equipped with Bluetooth connectivity.

Bluetooth keyboards are a little less practical on desktop PCs. If the connection breaks, it often has to be paired again - the PC and keyboard must first "find" each other, then a code that appears on the screen must be entered before the connection is established again.

Bluetooth keyboards in the BIOS: not always usable

If you often have to make settings in the BIOS of your PC, you should always have a replacement keyboard (USB or PS2) on hand: in many cases, Bluetooth is not ready for use before the actual operating system starts.

Bluetooth adapters are one way of working on older PCs

If, on the other hand, you have to connect to a PC without Bluetooth, you can connect a standard USB-Bluetooth adapter. This works largely like a dongle, which is also used with an ordinary wireless keyboard; however, the connection is still made via Bluetooth.

Hybrids: the best of both worlds


A hybrid keyboard: the Logitech K780

Not the cheapest keyboard, but it supports both RF and Bluetooth connections.

If you're looking for the best of both worlds, Logitech has a good solution with its newest keyboards. You can connect here either via Bluetooth or wirelessly with the supplied USB dongle. In addition, you can switch between individual connections at the push of a button.

For the plus in function, on the other hand, you have to accept a plus in price. It pays off especially if you often want to write texts or answer e-mails on your smartphone or tablet, but also want to use the keyboard on your PC.

Filed Under: Infos & HowTos, Keyboards