The 10 Best Smart TV Keyboards
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in April of 2016. So you've bought yourself a fancy new Smart TV that can do all kinds of things in addition to just watching shows, like browsing the Web and streaming media from downloaded apps. But, of course, you are now discovering that the included remote control makes it exceedingly difficult to take advantage of all these cool features. That's where any one of these specialist keyboards will come in handy. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 09, 2020:
Smart TVs have added a whole new level of functionality to home entertainment centers. To make the most of them though, it can be a good idea to get yourself a compatible keyboard like those on this list. They make it considerably easier than the onscreen virtual keyboard to type out long search terms, and, with the added touch and directional pads most offer, allow for quicker and more convenient menu navigation.
Those who use their TVs for non-console gaming will want to consider a model that is equipped with joysticks, such as the Rii RK707. Conversely, if you don't do any gaming, but your smart TV doubles as your main home computer, then you'll probably want something that offers a full-sized design, like the Logitech K600 and Arteck HW197. The former takes the place of the K400 Plus, which we previously recommended, because it has a longer wireless range, a physical directional pad, and the ability to sync with three devices.
Though small, the Rii X8 makes scrolling up and down on web pages much easier than many others because of its built-in scroll wheel, so you aren't left struggling with using the touchpad for that. Offering a similar design, but minus the scroll wheel, we have the ANewKodi 2.4GHz.
Those who prefer something that doesn't differ too much from a traditional remote in size will like the Rii K24T, iPazzPort KP-810-19S, Rii MX3, and WeChip W2 Pro. These last two actually have a button layout on the non-keyboard side that is very similar to what you would find on a normal remote, so should feel very familiar to most people. The Rii MX3 even has five keys that can be programmed to control various TV functions, such as power and volume.
November 08, 2019:
The last time we updated this list, the majority of the models on the market had a very similar design, so there was little to differentiate between them. Thankfully, that has changed and there are now a plethora of keyboard sizes and shapes available, making it easier to find one that perfectly suits your needs.
Along with removing models simply because they were too similar, we also found issues with some our previously recommended models now that there is more user data to rely on. For example, the Jelly Comb Mini was eliminated because it seems to suffer from Bluetooth connectivity issues, and the FeBite MX3 Pro just had overall durability problems.
Additionally, some were removed due to newer versions being released. The Rii i8+ was replaced with the Rii i4, which features a convenient scroll wheel, multiple brightness settings, and supports both Bluetooth and USB connectivity for increased device compatibility.
For those who prefer their keyboard to have a form similar to a traditional TV remote, we have included the Rii X1, iPazzPort KP-810-19S, and Wechip W1. Each of these fits comfortably in one hand, however the Rii X1 is our favorite of the three due to the variety of versions available and its device compatibility range.
If your smart TV doubles as a home computer, then you'll want something like the Logitech K400 Plus, which has a full-sized QWERTY layout for efficient typing. Of course, this means you probably won't place it on the bed or couch next to you while watching a show.
Gamers will be best served by the Gakov GAU6, which has a layout similar to a Playstation controller, so if you grew up playing on one of their consoles, your reflexes should be just as quick when using this.
Why We Need Smart TV Keyboards
Instead of getting straight to the good stuff, you're thrown into a gauntlet, setting up your apps and preferences with the dinky remote in the box.
Unfortunately, while most smart TVs are capable of doing much more than just displaying the channels for which you pay your cable provider, they tend to suffer from hardware and software shortcomings that make navigation a headache. They're loaded with apps and features and built-in web browsers, but actually using them often becomes a frustrating experience because of the basic remote controls with which they ship. In addition, their interfaces are, on the whole, fairly primitive, and make typing significantly more of a chore than it should be.
On most smart televisions, the typing process is what hurts the most. Navigating the onscreen alphabet with four arrow keys on your standard remote and selecting each letter individually is an experience to which almost everyone can relate, as hard as we might try to forget it. This is all the more upsetting when you've just unpacked your shiny new television and are actually excited to use it. Instead of getting straight to the good stuff, you're thrown into a gauntlet, setting up your apps and preferences with the dinky remote in the box. If you have a long, complicated, mixed-case password with numbers and special characters protecting your Wi-Fi network, you can pretty much kiss the rest of your day goodbye.
Things don't get better once your TV is connected to your network. Searching for new apps to download and programs to watch isn't going to be any easier than the setup process. Unless you sprung for an upgraded remote before you got home, the whole thing is going to make you nostalgic for the days when there was only one thing on TV.
Thankfully, smart TV keyboards exist to mitigate some of these issues. Sure, it would be preferable if the expensive televisions we paid for didn't require the purchase of additional hardware to keep you from banging your head against the wall every time you try to search for Everybody Loves Raymond in the Netflix app, but that's just not the case.
In addition to a full keyboard in your layout of choice, many of the keyboards on our list offer intuitive controls that, for whatever reason, the big-name companies manufacturing televisions simply cannot duplicate. Many are backlit as well, so you can use them in the dark without accidentally hitting the home button and having to start your search process over again. If you haven't guessed by now, I am a victim of a dumb remote, and I am not over it. Save yourself the trouble and order a keyboard remote for your smart TV so you never have this experience. I promise you will thank me.
How Remotes Got Out Of Control
These days, it seems every household has an excess of remote controls. I once had the displeasure of helping a friend move out of a so-called "smart house" and rounded up 14 different remotes among the various light fixtures, appliances, and other devices that littered the property.
While they were originally designed to make people's lives easier, the proliferation of remotes found in many homes more often serves to confuse. I can recall more than one instance of sitting on a friend's couch and being unsure which of at least three remotes was the right one to use just to turn the on television.
In the span of just a few years, many households went from having no remotes at all to having at least three.
The truth is, it wasn't always this way. The first televisions required users to tune dials by hand. While some manufacturers found ways for consumers to control things without getting up from their seats throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, by 1979 only 17 percent of American homes contained a remote control. By contrast, over 80 percent of them had color television sets.
The devices gained significant popularity in the 1980s with the rise of cable television. For one thing, the number of buttons required to easily navigate all of those channels became too numerous to include on an actual television set, so the remote became a near-necessity. As a result, cable providers often included a remote control with the set-top box that was required to get their services onto your television.
It wasn't long before TV manufacturers caught on to the trend. Soon, remotes came standard with nearly all TVs. But these remotes couldn't the control cable boxes, and many cable remotes couldn't turn on the TV set. Meanwhile, VCR manufacturers began including remotes with their products. In the span of just a few years, many households went from having no remotes at all to having at least three.
Remote controlled stereos, DVD players, and other devices added to the problem. The remotes themselves were never very intelligently designed, and having a plethora of them on your coffee table only made matters worse. Today, universal solutions exist, but many people still suffer from remote clutter. Smart TV keyboards may add some fuel to the fire, but at least they'll cut down on the frustration you experience when trying to navigate your apps and menus.
How Smart TV Keyboards Work
While early remotes were physically connected to the TV sets they controlled, it wasn't long before wireless technology became the norm. Ultrasonic technology was popular among the first successful wave, spearheaded by the TV manufacturer Zenith.
While they are limited by the fact that they require a direct line of sight to a television's receiver, infrared remotes continue to dominate today.
Each button produced a unique clicking sound when pressed, which the TV set could recognize and respond to accordingly. This was followed by the use of infrared technology in the 1970s. While they are limited by the fact that they require a direct line of sight to a television's receiver, infrared remotes continue to dominate today.
Many Smart TVs have built-in infrared receivers that work with their provided remotes, but more advanced connectivity options are available. Most keyboard remotes use wireless USB receivers that plug into the back of a television. These connect to the devices over a 2.4 GHz wireless signal that allow for a relatively long range, and work without a direct line of sight. Some keyboards use Bluetooth technology in a similar fashion, though they may only be compatible with Bluetooth-enabled televisions.