[BUDGET PERIPHERALS] Nicely priced keyboards and mice

DON’T WANT TO SPEND A FORTUNE ON YOUR PC INPUTS? WELL, YOU DON’T HAVE TO, FOR THIS MONTH, WE’VE ROUNDED UP THE BEST OPTIONS AT VERY LOW PRICES.

[LINDSAY HANDMER]

WE ALWAYS RECOMMEND buying the best keyboard and mouse you can afford, but sometimes, a budget option is needed. Fortunately, there are loads of options available — though almost all the best models are from Microsoft and Logitech. There are also quite a few smaller brands available, too, but avoid the total no-name models.

At the entry level, keyboards tend to be wired, are basic plastic, and most include a numpad. Mice use the usual three button/ scroll wheel combo and optical sensors that work best with a mouse pad, but can operate directly on a desk. For a surprisingly small price bump, it’s possible opt for wireless models — typically using a 2.4GHz link and USB dongle.

Keyboards and mice are often available separately — the latter especially for use with laptops. Forget about higher-end features, such as mechanical switches — affordable keyboards all use perfectly serviceable, but bog-standard rubber domes.

To help cover some of the options, we’ve put together reviews on 10 keyboards and mice (or combos) for under $50.

HOW WE TESTED

Each keyboard and/or mouse was connected to a desktop PC. Usability tests included writing and light gaming, as well checking for keyboard bounce, wireless range and mouse tracking accuracy.

Logitech M171 Review

A SURPRISINGLY GOOD NAME-BRAND WIRELESS MOUSE AT A VERY LOW PRICE.

RATHER THAN BEING bundled in with a keyboard combo, the Logitech M171 mouse is sold on its own. It’s very affordable, too. The little rodent is designed for on-the-go use, such as pairing up with a laptop, and comes in blue or grey. It uses a USB dongle and 2.4GHz link to provide a 10m wireless range. The dongle stores away inside the body, too, so it’s not easily lost. The mouse itself is a classic three button/scroll-wheel design, and can be used by both righties and lefties. It’s not too compact either — measuring in at 9.8 x 6.2 x 3.5cm and weighing 70.5 grams. The M171 runs on one AA battery with a life around one year. It uses an optical sensor, which we found fast and accurate on normal surfaces, such as a table, but no DPI is listed. The M171 is plug and play, and will work with Windows, Mac OS, Chrome OS and Linux.

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Logitech M171 Gaming Mouse w/ Receiver - Black & Gray

Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Last update was in: 2017-07-24 4:55 pm

$35.94

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CRITICAL SPECS

2.4GHz wireless; optical sensor; 1 year battery life; 9.8 x 6.2 x 2.5cm; 70.5g

Rating 4.5/5 Editor Choice

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Logitech Daedalus Prime G302 Review

GAMING PRECISION WITHOUT BLOWING THE BUDGET.

NOT ALL KEYBOARDS or mice need to be used for productivity tasks, and the Logitech Daedalus Prime G302 is aimed at gamers.

A few years old now, the mouse is easily found and offers excellent bang for buck. It’s large yet comfy under hand, and works equally well for lefties and righties.

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Logitech G302 Daedalus Prime MOBA Gaming Mouse

Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-07-24 4:55 pm

$21.65 $49.99

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The G302 has an adjustable DPI from 240 up to 4,000dpi, with a max acceleration and speed of 20G and 3m/s respectively. Tracking is excellent, and it has a 1,000Hz (1ms) USB report rate. Handy outside of games, too, the mouse includes six buttons, which can be custom programmed (including macros) using the Logitech software. The mouse feels quite tough but remains lightweight, and has funky built-in lighting. The buttons are specially tested and upgrade for durability in games that require a lot of clicking and it has large, low-friction feet. The G302 measures in at 11.5 x 6.5 x 3.7cm, weighs 87 grams and is backed by a two-year warranty.

CRITICAL SPECS

Wired 1ms report rate; 4,000dpi sensor 6 programmable buttons; 11.5 x 6.5×2.7cm; 87g

Rating 4/5 Winner Approved

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HP Wireless Mouse X4500 Review

A HIGHER-END (BUTSTILL LOW-COST) MOUSING OPTION.

FOR THOSE WITH a keyboard, or who want a quality mouse to go with a laptop, the HP X4500 delivers. It’s not the cheapest, but can be found online for around $30, but also from retailers such as Ofticeworks. Lefties are totally out of luck, though, as the X4500’s sculptured shape means it is for right hands only. On the plus side, the shape is very comfortable and supports the thumb.

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HPx4500 Wireless Comfort Mouse

Usually ships in 2 to 3 days & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-07-24 4:55 pm

$15.99

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The unit connects via the usual 2.4GHz dongle, offering a 10m wireless range, and runs for over two years from two included AA batteries. Where the X4500 really stands out, though, is a 1,600dpi laser sensor — in our testing, it gave top notch tracking across almost all surfaces, including a frosted glass tabletop. Where the X4500 falters is the lack of extra buttons beyond the usual three/scroll-wheel setup. The mouse measures in at a large 7.4 x 11.4 x 3.9cm, weighs 75 grams (without batteries) and has a 1 year warranty.

CRITICAL SPECS

1,600dpi laser sensor, rght-handed use; 2.4GHz wireless; 7.4 x 11.4 x 2.9cm; 75g

Rating 3.5/5

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Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard Review

A GREAT ONE FOR HOME-THEATRE PCS.

The Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard incorporates a trackpad and keyboard into one wireless device. The keyboard is ‘full size’, but not huge in the hand, measuring in at 37.9cm wide, 14.3cm deep and 3.7cm at the thickest point. It feels quite solid, and weighs 630 grams, and the keys are reasonably nice to type on. The trackpad is mostly excellent, and is multitouch enabled for gestures, such as pinch and zoom, but did have some occasional quibbles.

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Microsoft Wireless All-In-One Media Keyboard (N9Z-00001)

Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-07-24 4:55 pm

$29.95 $39.95

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The keyboard connects via a USB dongle, not Bluetooth, and has a slot to store it when not in use. The unit does not have any fancy features, such as backlit keys, but does include an array of programmable media and function keys. The range is excellent, and the included dual AAA batteries should keep it going for a year or so. Microsoft claims the keyboard is spill resistant, which is handy if it’s getting left on a coffee table.

CRITICAL SPECS

Wireless (USB dongle); multitouch trackpad; media and function keys; 37.9 x 14.3 x 3.7cm; 630g

Rating 4.5/5 Editor Choice

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Buying guide

BUDGET MOUSE AND KEYBOARD BUYER’S CHECKLIST THE KEY THINGS TO BE AWARE OF WHEN BUYING A MOUSE, KEYBOARD OR COMBO KIT WITH BOTH.

COMBO

Many keyboards and mice are sold as combo packs, but some are also available separately for a ‘mix and match’ upgrade.

WIRELESS

A good way to reduce clutter on compact desks or with a laptop, wireless models typically use a 10m range 2.4GHz USB dongle.

NUMPAD

For those working in an office environment, a numpad is must-have and some keyboards even have a calculator-launching hotkey.

BATTERIES

Wireless keyboard and mice typically use AA or AAA batteries for a one-year life, but be sure to switch them off when not in use.

BLUETOOTH

To free up USB ports, some wireless keyboard and mice connect via Bluetooth.

SIZE

A larger keyboard can be more comfortable to type on, but those who extensively use a mouse or have big hands look for bigger models.

SOFTWARE

Even budget-focused keyboards and mice can come with handy software that allows customisation of keyboard hotkeys and mouse buttons.

MOUSE BUTTONS

Most mice use the standard three button/ scroll-wheel setup, but those with extra programmable keys are great for gaming and increased productivity.

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Logictech K380 Review

THE KEYBOARD FOR MOBILE DEVICES.

SOMEWHAT UNIQUE COMPARED to our other reviews, the Logitech K380 isn’t a normal keyboard. Instead, it’s aimed at devices such as tablets and even smartphones — though still works with desktops and laptops.

It isn’t a case or a cover either — rather the K380 is a proper Bluetooth mini keyboard that makes typing up a long document a whole lot easier than using a virtual keyboard. Importantly, it can remember up to three different devices, and switch between controlling them via hotkeys. The idea is that Uni students or professionals who use a tablet for productivity don’t need to switch to a laptop for more in-depth work. It does not have a touchpad, but does allow custom key mapping (which is remembered) for each device. The keyboard is quite pleasant to type on, but is on the smaller side. The K380 has a 10m range, uses 2 AAA for a two-year battery life and can be teamed up with a wireless mouse. It measures in at 27.9 x 12.4 x 1.6cm and weighs 423 grams.

 

CRITICAL SPECS

Wireless (Bluetooth); 10m range; Windows, Mac, ¡OS, And raid; 27.9 x 12.4 x 1.6cm; 423g

Rating 4/5 Winner Approved

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Microsoft Desktop 850 Review

MICROSOFT’S MOST BASIC WIRELESS KEY BOARD OPTION.

AVAILABLE AS BOTH a mouse and keyboard combo, as well as just the keyboard by itself, in the latter form, the Microsoft Desktop 850. While the keyboard alone is a comparatively high-priced, but both have a three-year warranty. The 850 uses the usual 2.4GHz wireless link back to a plug-and-play USB dongle, but only rates it for a 5m range. The keyboard is larger than some, at 45.6 x 15.8 x 3.5cm, and includes a numpad and a range of Windows- and media-focused shortcut keys. Your keystrokes are protected by 128-bit AES encryption, and the unit includes a low battery indicator.

The mouse is the same classic Microsoft design as the wired keyboard, is comfortable in either hand and has three buttons and a scroll wheel. It measures in at 11.4 x 5.8cm and stores the dongle inside when not in use. The keyboard comes with two AAA batteries, while the mouse uses a single A A, and both last around 15 months on a single charge.

Rating 4/5 Winner Approved

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Microsoft Wireless Desktop 850 with AES (PY9-00001)

Usually ships in 1 to 4 weeks & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-07-24 4:55 pm

$19.99

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CRITICAL SPECS

2.4GHZ wireless; 128-bit AES encryption; mouse: 11.4 x 5.8cm keyboard: 45.615.8×3.5

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Logitech MK235 Review

A WIRELESS COMBO ON A BUDGET.

DITCHING THE CORDS can be a great way to reduce clutter, but it does come with a slightly increased cost. The Logitech MK235 manages to be one of the cheaper wireless models available.

The MK220 is wireless and cheaper, but it’s worth spending. The keyboard and mouse connect via 2.4GHz USB dongle and has a 10m range.

The keyboard runs on two AAA batteries and lasts up to three years, while the mouse uses a single AA for a 12-month life. The keyboard itself is nice and large at 43.6 x 13.8 x 2.1cm, and includes a full size numpad.

Feel is quite good, with decent travel and little bounce, and the 425-gram weight keeps it planted. The mouse is very similar to the excellent M171, with an optical sensor, ambidextrous layout, and 9.8 x 6.2 x 3.5cm dimensions. The kit is plug and play compatible, and supports Windows, Chrome OS and Linux, but not Mac OS.

Rating 4/5 Winner Approved

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Logitech MK235 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse

Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-07-24 4:55 pm

$14.99 $29.99

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CRITICAL SPECS

2.4GHz wireless (dongle); mouse: 9.8X 6.2X 3.5cm, keyboard: 43.6 X 13.8 X 2.1cm; 425g

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Rapoo RP-N1860 Review

A COMBO WITH WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY.

COSTING DOUBLE WHAT the wallet-friendly RP-N1820 retails for (see right), the Rapoo RP-N1860 is nonetheless still available. The keyboard and mouse combo uses a plug-and-play USB dongle and 2.4GHz wireless link with a range of up to 10m.

The keyboard itself is very similar to the 1820, with trimmed down borders and a compact but full layout with numpad. It’s comfortable to type on, has little bounce thanks to the aluminium frame and is spill resistant. It measures in at 39.2 x 12.7 x 2.9cm and weighs 418.5 grams. The mouse is different to the 1820 combo, with a wider ambidextrous shape that feels even better under the hand. It uses an optical sensor with a 1,000dpi resolution, handles a 3G acceleration and has the usual three button/scroll-wheel layout. Both keyboard and mouse run from AAA batteries, and the former lasts about 12 months, while the latter ekes out up to 18. The whole kit is backed by a 12-month warranty and is a great choice for those who want wireless freedom.

Rating 4/5 Winner Approved

CRITICAL SPECS

2.4GHz wireless; USB dongle; 1,000dpi mouse; keyboard 3912X 12.7 X 2.9cm; 418.5g

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Microsoft Wired Desktop 600 Review

THE CHEAP AND CHEERFUL COMBO.

SOMETIMES, YOU JUST need a basic keyboard and mouse, and the Microsoft Wired Desktop 600 delivers just that. Bargain hunters can find the combo online, is more common. It’s also often found bundled writh desktops for sale. The keyboard can be bought separately, too. It’s nothing exciting, but is full size, with a numpad on the right. It’s the usual rubber dome affair, but typing is fairly pleasant for a budget option. The keyboard has an array of media keys, plus a calculator hotkey. It claims to be spill resistant so can hopefully shrug off a dropped coffee. The mouse is a classic Microsoft design, can be used as a lefty or righty, and had a central scroll-wheel/ button. It’s pretty comfortable, but on the small side for large hands. The keyboard is backed by a decent three-year warranty, too, which is nice. The keyboard measures in at 45.6cm wide and 16cm deep, while the mouse is 11.3cm long and 5.8cm wide.

 

CRITICAL SPECS

Media and hotkeys; spill resistant; keyboard: 45.6 Xl6cm; mouse: 11.3X 5.8cm

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Microsoft Wired Desktop 600 (Black)

Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
Last update was in: 2017-07-24 4:55 pm

$24.99 $34.95

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Rating 3.5/5

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Rapoo RP-N1820 Review

A SUPER LOW-PRICED ENTRY-LEVEL KEYBOARD AND MOUSE.

AIMED AT USERS who need something solid yet very affordable, the Rapoo 1820 can be picked up — or more commonl. The budget-friendly model is wired, with full size keys and layout, plus a numpad. The 1820 trims down the excess plastic around the keyboard, so the overall dimensions feel quite compact, and it looks sleeker than some larger models. It has an aluminium frame with plastic finish and keys, and feel quite sturdy. Key motion is good, with decent feel but not over top stiffness.

It’s spill resistant and measures in at 39.2 x 12.7 x 2.9cm and weighs 418.5 grams. The mouse is ambidextrous, comfortable in hand and gets great tracking from the 1,000dpi optical sensor. It has the usual three button scroll-wheel setup, but we wish the low friction feet were a touch larger. The entire kit is USB plug and play, backed by a one-year warranty and both keyboard and mouse have a 1.5m cable.

CRITICAL SPECS

Optical tracking; 1,000dpi sensor; 1.5m cables; keyboard: 39.2x 12.7 x 2.9cm; 418.5g

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