Most modern keyboards and mice rely on Bluetooth connectivity, which is slightly more convenient than a wired connection. But this boost in convenience is accompanied by a ton of downsides, especially in terms of battery life, reliability, and device longevity. Here’s why I hate Bluetooth keyboards and mice.
When you use a wired keyboard or mouse, you can plug it into your computer once and never think about it again. But Bluetooth keyboards and mice use lithium-ion batteries, which need to charge. And man, they run out of battery life waaay too quickly.
At most, Bluetooth keyboards and mice last a few months on a charge. But fancy models with backlit keys or optical switches need to charge every week when used regularly—I know this from experience. Backlit keyboards and RGB mice are better when they’re wired.
The idea of charging a bunch of extra crap isn’t enjoyable to me, personally. There’s nothing worse than stopping in the middle of work, digging around for cables, and stringing a big noodly mess across my desk because I forgot to charge my keyboard.
Yeah, you could do some “cable management” magic and clip a USB cable near your keyboard or mouse. That’ll save you from hunting for a cable or making a mess on your desk. But at that point, why even use Bluetooth?
As a side note, I prefer wireless keyboards and mice that use AA or AAA batteries. They tend to have a much longer battery life than their lithium-ion cousins, and of course, their battery life doesn’t decrease over time. Lithium-ion batteries wear out very quickly!
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The Bluetooth standard grows more reliable every year. And, of course, wireless keyboards and mice benefit from Bluetooth’s constant improvements. That’s why the latest wireless keyboards and mice rarely come with a USB receiver. They don’t need a dedicated receiver anymore!
But for all of Bluetooth’s improvements, wireless keyboards and mice are still very frustrating to use. Latency, dropped connections, and other weird glitches aren’t uncommon. The solution is usually quite simple—reset Bluetooth on your computer. But how are you supposed to do that when your Bluetooth mouse isn’t working?
These problems are especially frustrating for gamers. Of course, competitive gamers who use wireless keyboards or mice usually skip Bluetooth in favor of old-fashioned RF receivers—there’s still a huge gap between RF and Bluetooth connectivity standards, and Bluetooth is technically the “inferior” option.
Funny enough, one of my biggest Bluetooth complaints has nothing to do with reliability. I hate that Bluetooth keyboards and mice need to “wake up” when they haven’t been used for a few minutes. Slapping on a spacebar or wiggling a mouse to “wake it up” is a pain in the neck, but it’s a necessity, as Bluetooth devices need to enter a low-power mode to conserve battery life when not in use.
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Computer accessories grow obsolete after just a few years. But you can take a 30-year-old keyboard, plug it into a PC (through an adapter), and use it like it’s brand new.
No, I’m not asking you to use a vintage keyboard. I’m trying to illustrate that wired keyboards can last a very long time—they don’t become obsolete, and they’re fairly easy to clean. This is especially true for mechanical keyboards, which (usually) have user-replaceable keycaps and other components.
Bluetooth keyboards are practically made for the landfill. Lithium-ion batteries wear out after just a few years, and they aren’t easily replaceable in keyboards. When the average person notices that their Bluetooth keyboard isn’t holding a charge, they throw it away and buy a new one. The technology, combined with corporate negligence, encourages wastefulness. (Which is why I encourage you to buy a Bluetooth keyboard that uses AA or AAA batteries.)
This is also true for Bluetooth mice. Though, to be fair, mice tend to wear out quickly. And modern mice aren’t always easy to clean.
But what if you’re a super cool DIY warrior? With enough elbow grease, you can replace the lithium-ion battery in nearly any device. Well, there’s still a big problem—security!
The Bluetooth standard is constantly evolving. And with every iteration of Bluetooth comes new security improvements. In 2021, the NSA published a paper explaining how wireless communication protocols, including Bluetooth, present a security risk in public settings. And this is especially true when a device uses an outdated version of Bluetooth.
You can’t upgrade the Bluetooth in your wireless keyboard or mouse. Even if you figure out how to replace its lithium-ion battery, it will eventually grow vulnerable to exploits. Admittedly, this isn’t a major concern for keyboards and mice that stay at home. But it’s a problem that forces wastefulness among select groups, including businesses.
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To be perfectly clear, I’m not some weirdo pariah who screams at people for using Bluetooth. That would be annoying, embarrassing, and hypocritical. My complaints about Bluetooth keyboards and mice stem from years of experience—keeping up with technology is part of my job, and new items regularly pass by my desk for review.
I’m just frustrated by the unreliability and awful battery life of Bluetooth keyboards. And every time I look at the stack of wireless keyboards on my shelf (which I need to donate), I can’t shake the fact that they’re doomed for a landfill. We tolerate all of this nonsense just to avoid plugging something into our computers?
Here’s the thing; Bluetooth keyboards and mice are usually the best options for modern computer users. It’s not that people are too lazy to use a USB cable, or whatever, they’re simply forced toward wireless options.
Modern PCs and Macs aren’t made to accommodate a ton of wired accessories. And even if you own a computer with a decent port selection, it’s probably a mix of USB-A and USB-C. The idea that people will waste these ports on keyboards or mice is totally unrealistic. Yeah, you can expand a computer’s port selection with a USB hub or dock, but Bluetooth accessories are a cheaper and more straightforward solution.
This situation is exacerbated by the rise of a certain trend—people are replacing their desktop computers with laptops. Thanks to USB-C and Thunderbolt, you can connect a laptop to a monitor (and charge it) using a single cable. The problem, as any MacBook Air user knows, is that this kind of setup can seriously limit your selection of USB ports. Bluetooth keyboards and mice accommodate this use-case, but wired options do not.
So, this is my suggestion. If you plan to use a wireless keyboard or mouse without any backlights or other flashy features, try to find one that runs on AA or AAA batteries. It’ll give you a great battery life, and it won’t suffer the sad death of a lithium-ion device.
Those who want a power-hungry keyboard or mouse with crazy RGB lighting should consider a wired option (or a wireless keyboard that also works in wired mode). Not only does this eliminate concerns about reliability, but it ensures that your keyboard or mouse will last for a very long time.
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