I need a new computer keyboard.
February 12, 2021 6:39 AM   Subscribe

My Logitech K350 started malfunctioning so I need a new computer keyboard. I don't even know where to begin looking for options for replacement. What should I be looking at for replacement? Details about what I like within.

I like the K350 ok but I'm not in love with it.

It's wireless, on the larger size (I have big hands), has slight curvature to the keyboard, has a 10-key pad, has a wrist rest, and has some extra buttons I can program to do what I want. Is it the best keyboard for me? Are there other keyboards that might be even better for me? I've never enjoyed shopping for any sort of hardware, so don't really know where to look to even entertain other options.

What I don't like about the K350 is how ugly it is and how much extra plastic there is around the outside of the keyboard (I like the size of the key part of the keyboard but not the size of all the perimeter stuff). Mechanical keyboards seem neat, but none that I have seen have any sort of ergonomic design like the K350. Maybe a different sort of ergonomic design would be even better?

My computer does not have bluetooth. I use Windows 10 and will not be switching away from Windows any time in the foreseeable future. Price isn't a barrier for the right keyboard.

I will primarily be using the computer for work relating to still photography (some light photoshop, mostly IPTC editing), some writing, some web programming, and some gaming. I use keyboard shortcuts in the programs I use a lot and use autohotkey to make additional keyboard shortcuts. Maybe certain keyboards are more suited to that sort of stuff than the K350.

I like the M510 mouse the keyboard came with well enough, too, but I don't really know anything else. It's got a decent size for me and the few extra buttons on the mouse are useful to me.
posted by msbrauer to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You want ergonomic, wired with programmability?

Well - my recommendation - I went all in, back in September and got a Kinesis Freestyle RGB Edge, with the tenting kit.

Cons - very expensive, takes a bit to get used too.
Pros - extremely well built, extremely ergonomic (I can split and angle each half - or push them together, whenever I want) - and the best KB I have ever purchased - would do it again
(And I am not a gamer, and I have not programmed any macros - but it has extensive programming capabilities)

I have it attached to a USB switch, that lets me cycle between 3 laptops - they do have Bluetooth, which I use my Microsoft Surface Precision mouse - which has a button, letting me switch between 3 computers. However - if I had a wireless USB mouse, I could use my Startech USB switch with that.
posted by rozcakj at 7:10 AM on February 12

Response by poster: Wireless is preferred, but not bluetooth. Doesn't need to be highly programmable. The logitech makes it easy to make a few special buttons do whatever I want and I can use autohotkey to do more as needed. I just like having a few extra buttons.
posted by msbrauer at 7:14 AM on February 12

(Oops, sorry - I thought with the lack of Bluetooth that wireless was not on the table, but have forgotten that most wireless KB's come with a USB dongle - and in Logitech's case, can typically also be used with their mice)
posted by rozcakj at 7:16 AM on February 12

I like the Microsoft Sculpt keyboards. The new wireless one has a USB dongle so no Bluetooth.

I have not used this one but is have used the previous version for seven years without issue.
posted by sol at 7:48 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Personally ALWAYS go for a mechanical keyboard, and I have about 4-5 of them around the house. My recent was a Kickstarter item from EPOMAKER which is basically a full-size keyboard but tightened up with no gap between keygroups and no middle cluster (the 4 cursor keys and the 6 keys above it)

Before that, I was using a Velocity (?) keyboard from Amazon for $30, mainly for its compactness (nothing to the right of the enter key) but I also have a hybrid bluetooth/wired keyboard for that (2 columns just right of the enter key) (it's about $70, I think). All which "brown" switches.

I wouldn't pay for Razer or such with the fancy RGB lights unless you get something out of them (like they sync with your case and music or something).
posted by kschang at 8:17 AM on February 12

Keyboards are really personal. I use a Keyboardio Model 01, which you'd have to buy secondhand if you wanted one (its successor is currently in development). If I were buying another keyboard right now I'd probably get a Keyboardio Atreus, which is a compact, mechanical, ergonomic, programmable keyboard. It's not wireless, but it's certainly compact and ergonomic. You can use it without programming it, but I use a wacky layout so the ability to program that into the keyboard and just be able to plug it in is really nice.

I also have a Microsoft Sculpt from a few years ago, and it's OK. The function keys feel more like buttons than keys, and I don't like the right pinky cluster of keys (some of them are really hard to reach), but your own needs might vary. It came with a separate 10 key pad that I barely use. I think I liked the original (wired) Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard better, but both of mine wore out after a decade of use, and moving to wireless was indeed an upgrade.
posted by fedward at 10:02 AM on February 12

First, try before you buy. I've discovered that some keyboard designers try for "unique" designs (like weird-shaped keys) that can render the keyboard unusable to you. (I personally prefer a mechanical keyboard with responsive keys with some real movement to them; but, then I again, I started out with keypunch machines, so I might be biased.)

Second, full keyboards are nice (arrow keys, home key, numeric keypad). Even if you don't use them that much, the numeric keys are useful in those situations that you want to make "non-standard" characters, like accented vowels.

Third, my current keyboard is advertised as being "water-proof." Now, I'm not dumb enough to deliberately test that, but I've kill two very expensive Apple keyboards (cute, flat, no throw in the keys at all) in very short order by spills. I find an inexpensive (~$20) keyboard is a lot more resilient to accidents (or just knocking the crumbs out of the keyboard by tapping it on the table).
posted by SPrintF at 12:05 PM on February 12

Response by poster: full keyboards are nice (arrow keys, home key, numeric keypad)

Agreed. I specifically want all of those things, so something like the Keyboardios linked above will never work for me. Microsoft Sculpt linked above looks great, and when I looked at that, I also saw the Logitech K860, which looks really nice.

try before you buy

Wish I could...not sure how the pandemic is affecting that. Haven't been in a store that would have keyboards in a very long time.
posted by msbrauer at 12:25 PM on February 12

I thought I'd miss the numeric keypad but I realized I barely touched the one I had on the Sculpt. I discovered that I preferred having a mouse or trackpad to the right of my keyboard where the numeric keypad would be, and even with the option of switching that out for a numpad I rarely did it. I just went back to using the number row on my keyboard like my typing class had taught me years ago. And I don't have to reach as far for my pointer. But like I said, keyboards are really personal. I know a bunch of people who have either the Happy Hacking Keyboard or some bespoke version of the same idea ("tenkeyless" with no arrow keys or function key row, 60-ish keys total), but I can't use anything that makes me bend my wrists that much. And lots of people want number keys, arrows, or the function key row. There's no one keyboard everyone is going to love.
posted by fedward at 12:54 PM on February 12

My wife likes the Logitech K860, and I was coming in to recommend that. The only thing I don't like about it is the very short key travel, but you get the same thing with the Sculpt and many other modern keyboards. If you want a new mouse to go with it, I love the Logitech MX Master 3.
posted by number9dream at 12:57 PM on February 12

Response by poster: I thought I'd miss the numeric keypad but I realized I barely touched the one I had on the Sculpt.

10key and arrow keys are absolute requirements for me. I've seen a couple through links on here that seem to have an unattached numeric pad, which is intriguing to me.
posted by msbrauer at 1:01 PM on February 12

The Logitech K860 is really nice. The palm rest is comfortable and includes the 10key area, connection via USB dongle is easy, F-keys are programmable. It has a fairly large footprint but looks and feels much sleeker than the K350. When I got it I worried that the permanently-attached palm rest would get dirty but in about nine months of heavy use it has not.
posted by a moisturizing whip at 1:14 PM on February 12

One of the best keyboards I've ever used is the Das Keyboard with Brown switches. be sure to attach the supplied back part. but it is great. also you can buy switch testing blocks to see which ones you like. I like the corsair keyboards as well. the Razer Huntsman series is great, but the optical switches were not really for me.
posted by evilmonk at 1:25 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I bought this corded mechanical TKL in late May for (as you can see) not much money, thinking if I didn't like it, I could try another and I have had no problem with it in Work from Home. It fits my desk, plays nice with my USB Mouse/Keyboard switch that lets m connect to either my work laptop, home Linux or home Windows PCs.

In case you don't know TKL is "10 keyless" meaning no numeric keypad (I'm a programmer not an accountant and I need the desk space). I remember when I was shopping for it I was hung up on positive/negative reviews, brown/blue/red keyboard "feel", all that stuff. My head was swimming, so I just picked a cheap one with decent reviews and lucked out (I think).

This is all just FYI, FWIW.
posted by forthright at 2:56 PM on February 12

If you find a keyboard that is everything you want but for the number pad, note that separate number pads (both wired and wireless) are a thing. The computer 'merges' the inputs from the keyboard and the keypad, regardless of who made them or how they're attached.

So if you find your dream keyboard with no keypad, you can fix that for about $10.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 8:25 PM on February 12

I love the Microsoft Sculpt. It's the most comfortable keyboard I've ever used.
(And yes, it has an unattached number pad.)
posted by esker at 5:44 AM on February 13

If you're after a flatter, laptop-style keyboard, earlier this week I spontaneously wrote an email to Arteck's customer service to tell them that their HW126 is the best I've ever used, and I've written eighteen books and a lot of journalism. Full-size, responsive with a really pleasant light touch, wireless but not Bluetooth, solar panels that recharge its battery, thirty bucks on Amazon, better than the Logitech equivalent (K750) that's over twice the price.

Search Amazon for 'Arteck solar keyboard' to find it.
posted by Hogshead at 3:07 PM on February 13

"One of the best keyboards I've ever used is the Das Keyboard with Brown switches."

Same here. I now have three Das Keyboards with the MX Brown switches, too. Favorite keyboard of all time.

Great build quality with no gimmicks. I type faster on these than on any other keyboard I have used.
posted by bz at 4:22 PM on February 13

It's said that DAS is really just Rosewill keyboards with blank keys. :) You can get Rosewill keyboards for less than half the price and buy a set of blank keys to put on yourself. :D

With that said, in the recent years, there are short-travel mechanical key switches that are much thinner yet still give you a tactile feel. The one I linked is a TKL (tenkey-less) but much much thinner overall, with only slightly reduced travel. So they kinda feel like a laptop keyboard, but with better tactile feel.
posted by kschang at 10:15 AM on February 15

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