Wireless Keyboard Reliability  white paper  Wireless Computing, Inc
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RELIABILITY IN A
WIRELESS KEYBOARD

Wireless keyboard in use in a conference room

What to look for when quality matters

If the quality and performance of your wireless keyboard matter to you, here's what you need to look for before you buy.

Signal type

There's a problem with today's inexpensive wireless keyboards: they use very crowded parts of the RF spectrum -Bluetooth or 2.4 GHz. Consequently they have to compete with wireless phones, WiFi computer networks, interference from microwave ovens and many other devices to successfully transmit a keystroke.

This may not be an issue if you always use your wireless keyboard in a private office relatively close to your computer. But use it for a presentation or to teach a class, and it's a totally different story. In these situations, the wireless keyboard and computer are at greater distances from each other, so the quality of the signal matters more. And in a classroom or conference room you can't predict what kinds of wireless devices people will bring in that may interfere with your signal.

The best wireless keyboards avoid these problems by operating at less heavily used frequencies. For example, keyboards from Wireless Computing, Inc. operate at 916.5 megahertz, a frequency where there is little to no interference.

Two-way communications

A related question is how the wireless keyboard deals with interference and other transmission problems, should they occur.

Inexpensive wireless keyboards use one-way communication. Should something go wrong with the transmission, typed characters simply do not get through from the keyboard to the receiver.

The best wireless keyboards - including those from Wireless Computing - use two-way communication. Type a 'k' for example, and the keyboard transmits it, then waits for the receiver to acknowledge that it has received the 'k.' If it does not receive an acknowledgement, it automatically sends the 'k' again, even multiple times if necessary.

Of course, this process is so fast that you perceive no delay due to retries. You can keep typing and the keyboard and receiver make sure all the keystrokes get through.

Cross talk between keyboards

Another important issue is the potential for two keyboards of the same brand and model to crosstalk with each other.

Here's an example. On Monday night Presenter A sets up in a hotel conference room with her wireless keyboard, getting ready for an important seminar. Presenter B sets up next door a little later in the evening. Both systems work perfectly. Tuesday morning at 9:00, both begin their presentations, only to find their computers acting erratically.

An unusual problem? No, not if you standardize on a particular keyboard within your organization. What's happening is that each presenter is using the same wireless equipment set to the same digital address. Even if they originally set their keyboards to different addresses, if they replaced the batteries the keyboards could reset to their default addresses - the same address for both.

The best wireless keyboards -including those from Wireless Computing- store digital address settings in an EEPROM or similar device, so that they stay in memory even if the batteries are removed. The keyboards continue to operate in a trouble-free manner with no risk of cross talk with other keyboards.

Multiple devices

Professional users often require multiple wireless devices. In a presentation, you may use a wireless keyboard, wireless mouse and remote control together.

It's not impossible to connect multiple receivers up to your computer. But the best wireless devices, such as those from Wireless Computing, are able to share one receiver, one USB port and one unique digital address, freeing USB ports and keeping equipment clutter to a minimum.

Wireless Computing keyboards

Wireless Computing, Inc. offers very high quality wireless keyboards, mice and presentation remote controls, all of them carefully engineered for reliability and long range. All Wireless Computing keyboards work reliably to at least 100' and Wireless Computing mice to at least 50,' much farther than inexpensive, "consumer-quality" wireless devices.

In addition, Wireless Computing keyboards are very secure. They protect all typed information, including passwords, credit card numbers and other vital data using AES encryption, the algorithm used by the US government to protect top-secret information.

Wireless Computing offers two long-range wireless keyboards: the full-sized RF-240 AES Secure Wireless Keyboard and the RF-222 Compact Wireless Keyboard with AES encryption and optical trackball. Both are capable of transmitting reliably for at least 100 feet. Each can be used in conference rooms, classrooms, auditoriums, offices and home theaters for government, corporate, educational and home applications.

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