FAQs Frequently Asked Questions

What customers ask about our wireless keyboard technology

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1 Your wireless keyboards cost more than consumer keyboards. Why should I pay the extra money?
2 Why do your wireless keyboards use 2-way RF? Isn't 1-way RF good enough for a wireless keyboard?
3 Your specifications mention 65,000 addresses. What are those?
4 Why doesn’t Wireless Computing make an infrared keyboard?
5 Does the RF-600 have 'n-key rollover'?
6 Sometimes the sending LED on my keyboard blinks green, and other times it blinks red. What's that all about?
7 Can two or more wireless keyboards control the same computer?
8 Why do your long range wireless keyboards include encryption? How secure is your encryption algorithm? Is it FIPS-approved?

Your wireless keyboards cost more than consumer wireless keyboards. Why should I pay the extra money?

The truth is, consumer-quality wireless keyboards do not have what it takes for conference rooms, training rooms, auditoriums, and other demanding environments. An otherwise well-functioning room can come grinding to a halt if the wireless keyboard fails.

Some of you may have lived this. Our phones ring every day with people who have had a bad experience. They call us because they are looking for wireless keyboards and mice they can really rely upon.

Our wireless keyboards and mice use more sophisticated, higher cost technology than consumer-quality wireless keyboards and mice. That makes them cost more.

Why do your keyboards use 2-way RF? Isn't 1-way RF good enough for a wireless keyboard?

Every Wireless Computing product uses 2-way RF technology. Years ago, our products did not use 2-way RF. They used 1-way RF. The reason we changed is, simply, wireless keyboards with 2-way RF work better than those with 1-way RF.

Here's how our 2-way RF technology works. When you press a key, the keyboard transmits a keystroke packet over-the-air to the receiver. The receiver, in turn, transmits an ACK (short for acknowledge) packet back to the keyboard. After the keyboard hears the ACK packet, it knows that the keystroke got through successfully. This exchange happens very quickly - in less than a hundredth of a second.

Sometimes, however, the keyboard may not hear the ACK. When this happens, the keyboard automatically re-sends the keystroke packet (multiple times if necessary) until it hears an ACK.

This is where 2-way RF has the advantage over 1-way RF. If you are typing on a wireless keyboard that uses 1-way RF, if a keystroke packet doesn't get through, the result is a dropped keystroke (very frustrating). A wireless keyboard with 2-way RF retries automatically until the keystroke goes through. So you'll find that our wireless keyboards work more reliably, with fewer dropped keystrokes, than those with 1-way RF.

Your specifications mention 65,000 addresses. What are those?

Addresses are the way a keyboard and receiver communicate with each other - they each have the same address. Without addresses, two keyboards within range of each other would crosstalk, controlling each others' computers.

When shipped from the factory, all keyboards start on address 0. During installation, we recommend you change the address. If you do not change the address from its factory setting, encryption will not be enabled.

For specific instruction see the RF-100, RF-160, RF-220 , RF-240 or RF-600 support page.

What happens if you skip setting the address? Your keyboard still will work, because both the keyboard and receiver are on the factory default address 0. However, we recommend that you change the address, which only takes a moment.

Why doesn’t Wireless Computing make an infrared keyboard?

When we introduced our first RF keyboard back in the 90s, there were several infrared keyboards on the market, but all of them, at least from major manufacturers, have been withdrawn. The RF technology we pioneered works much better than infrared transmission, and so others have imitated our designs.

That being said, infrared signals can be confined within the ordinary walls of an ordinary room, thereby preventing the signal from being intercepted outside the room. The only way to keep RF signals within a room is to line its walls with an expensive RF-blocking mesh.

We believe a better answer is to make it difficult or impossible to intercept the wireless signal, and so each of our keyboards uses AES encryption, which so far has never been cracked. AES has been accepted by the US government as one of the four most secure encryption algorithms under FIPS, or Federal Information Processing Standards, and it is used routinely to protect top-secret information.

Does the RF-600 have 'n-key rollover'?

Some high end keyboards use this technique, meaning that each key is scanned independently by the keyboard hardware, so that each keypress is correctly detected regardless of how many other keys are being pressed or held down at the time. This can be helpful in certain specific applications such as typing brail or use with video games.

The RF-600 is a matrix keyboard without isolation diodes or unlimited n-key rollover. That being said, the key scanning matrix has been arranged so that in many cases up to six keys may be chorded simultaneously.

In the worst case, when three keys that share the same “rectangle” in the key matrix are chorded at once, they can produce a "jam" and cause all three to be ignored. Of course, the Alt and Ctrl keys are isolated so that they almost never produce a jam with other keys.

Sometimes the sending LED on my keyboard blinks green, and other times it blinks red. What's that all about?

The two colors indicate whether the keyboard is getting through to the computer successfully. Green means keystrokes are getting through. Red means something is wrong and keystrokes are not getting through.

You can try the following experiment. Unplug the receiver from your computer and type a few keystrokes. The sending LED should blink red. Then plug the receiver in and type again. Now you should see green LED blinks.

The sending LED will blink red in these situations:

1 Computer is powered off
2 Receiver is unplugged
3 Keyboard is out of range of receiver
4 Ambient RF interference is blocking communication
5 Receiver and keyboard are not on the same address

Can two or more wireless keyboards control the same computer?

Yes. During address setting, address each keyboards so that each retrieves the address from the receiver. As long as you take turns typing, both keyboards will control the computer. More than two wireless keyboards will work, also, as will a keyboard and a mouse, two mice, etc.

Why do your long range wireless keyboards include encryption? How secure is your encryption algorithm? Is it FIPS-approved?

Our wireless keyboards use encryption to safeguard over-the-air transmission of typed information. Encryption protects against illicit interception of passwords, account numbers, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data.

FIPS, or the Federal Information Processing Standards, says that for communication of sensitive information by agencies of the United States government, only a small number of encryption algorithms are allowed. One of these is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Two Wireless Computing keyboards, the RF-240 and RF-222, use AES Secure technology, an implementation of AES encryption.

Also known as Rijndael encryption, AES is a powerful cryptographic algorithm adopted by the United States government. AES has become widely used not only to protect sensitive government and military data, but to secure all kinds of electronic data, including financial transactions. Notably, AES is the first "open source" algorithm approved by the United States' National Security Agency (NSA).

With our AES Secure technology, keystrokes are encrypted with a 128-bit secret key before transmission over the air. After reception, the receiver applies the secret key to remove the encryption and uncover the original keystroke. AES encryption, transmission and decryption introduce no perceivable typing lag or delay.

This implementation of AES encryption has not been formally certified under a Cryptographic Module Validation Program (CMVP). Nonetheless, AES Secure provides most of the protection required by FIPS 197. To achieve CMVP certification, FIPS 197 requires a second, "public-key" encryption algorithm be used solely to encrypt the AES secret key when it is transferred between devices. This second algorithm makes sense when the AES secret key changes often. But in a wireless keyboard, the AES secret key need only be transferred one time - during keyboard installation. AES Secure thus omits a second, "public-key" encryption algorithm.

AES Secure offers the highest level of security available in a wireless keyboard. It makes our keyboards the best choice for those government, corporate and higher-education applications where security is a concern.

 
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