Can You Use a Wireless Keyboard with a Laptop?
Keyboard quality is one of the most sensitive issues with laptops. It sometimes happens, even with expensive laptops, that the keyboard is of sub-par quality compared to the rest of the device.
On the other hand, especially for the users with larger hands, a laptop’s keyboard might feel cramped; the keys might be too small and mess with the typing speed and precision.
The only remedy for these types of problems is the use of an external keyboard. Typically, a standard USB keyboard is the normal alternative in these cases. Read on to find out whether you can use a wireless keyboard with a laptop.
Wireless Keyboard 101
A wireless keyboard uses batteries for power and radio transmitters to communicate with the computer (or a tablet, smartphone, or smart TV). Usually, a wireless keyboard relies on the standard AA and AAA batteries for power, though models with lithium-ion batteries exist as well. In terms of technology, a wireless keyboard can be Bluetooth or RF.
A Bluetooth keyboard is dependent on Bluetooth protocols and technology for communication with other devices. Typically, the onboard transmitter will send the data directly to the receiver built into the other device. Alternatively, the receiving device might feature a USB Bluetooth receiver if it’s not Bluetooth compatible. Bluetooth keyboards work almost exclusively at 2.4GHz.
The RF keyboards use the standard RF technology for communication with computers and other devices. This makes them somewhat more affordable than their Bluetooth siblings. Similar to them, the RF keyboards work at 2.4GHz and suffer the same interference problems. Unlike the Bluetooth variety, however, onboard transmitters of RF keyboards are only paired with USB receivers. Generally, they are unable to use the Wi-Fi (802.11x) connection.
Using a Wireless Keyboard with a Laptop
Most laptops support external keyboards. These can be attached through USB ports, though in the past laptops had PS/2 ports similar to their desktop counterparts. Like with a desktop PC, you can use a wireless keyboard with a laptop. Though it may be true, there are several things to consider before pairing your laptop with a wireless keyboard.
Things to consider
The first thing to consider is the number of available USB ports, especially on the more affordable laptops. The inexpensive models tend to have very few connection ports, including USB. A typical setup might include only two to three ports, leaving you even fewer available ports for other devices should you decide to add a wireless keyboard.
Another thing to consider is the type of the USB port. While the ubiquitous 2.0 is still being used by most USB-equipped devices, the new 3.0 and 3.1 versions are gathering momentum. 3.2 ports are rarely used. To avoid compatibility issues, you should always check the USB ports you have.
If you intend to use a Bluetooth keyboard, find out whether your laptop has a built-in Bluetooth receiver or not. If it has one, you will only need your keyboard to connect the two. But if it doesn’t, you will need a USB Bluetooth receiver.
How to connect them?
If you have an RF keyboard, you should first plug the USB receiver into a USB port on your laptop. Next, turn the keyboard on (note that some models come without on/off switch) and press the “Connect” button (usually located on the top or the sides of the keyboard). Next, open Notepad or another text editor and start typing. If you see your typing on the screen, the process was successful. If not, repeat the process.
Adding a Bluetooth keyboard takes a bit more time. Typically, when you connect and turn on the keyboard, you will have to change your laptop’s settings.
- On Windows 10, click the “Win“ key on your laptop’s keyboard.
- Click the “Settings” (cog) icon and select “Devices.”
- Select “Bluetooth & other devices” and turn the laptop’s Bluetooth on.
- Now, turn the keyboard on and find it in the list.
- Click its name and then click “Pair.”
The laptop and the keyboard should automatically synchronize within several minutes.
Laptop keyboards can sometimes be of poor quality, having flimsy keys or issues with switches. Also, they might be too small for users with larger hands, thus making typing a real chore. That’s where external keyboards come in.
You can easily use a wireless keyboard with your laptop. If you opt for an RF keyboard, make sure that it’s compatible with your laptop’s USB ports. But if your laptop is Bluetooth compatible, use a Bluetooth keyboard instead to avoid occupying a USB port unnecessarily.