There are many different types of keyboards in the world today. They all have distinctive features that make them useful for various tasks. This article will introduce you to some of the most common keyboard types, and then it will help you determine which is the best type for your needs.
1. Mechanical Keyboards
The first keyboard type that will be discussed is the mechanical keyboard. As you can guess, these are keyboards that contain switches operated by keys. One of the most common examples would be a typewriter, which uses actual physical hammers to strike ink onto paper. The same principle applies to modern-day mechanical keyboards, you press down on one key, and electrical contact in the switch closes! This results in a signal being sent (usually through PS/2 or USB) for your computer to perform whatever function the keystroke corresponds with.
Mechanical keyboards are often preferred over membrane keyboards because they tend to last much longer and feel much better when you use them (membrane keyboards sometimes have this slippery, mushy feeling). They’re easy to clean (because the contact points are open). One downside of a mechanical keyboard is that it can be noisier than membrane keyboards, but at least there’s an easy fix for this. All you have to do is wear O-rings with your keys! The O-rings will keep the key from bottoming out and thus prevent it from making noise.
A few notable examples of mechanical keyboards include many older models by IBM (Model M), Das Keyboards, and Corsair Gaming.
2. Membrane Keyboards
Next up is membrane keyboards. These keyboards use a flexible plastic sheet, which has a printed circuit underneath it, as a contact surface for the switches. When you push down on a keycap, the top part of the switch pushes the flexible sheet downward until it hits the bottom part of the switch, which completes an electrical circuit and sends a signal to your computer.
This is one of the most common keyboards in use today (it’s even the default type on most laptops). The main benefit of membrane keyboards is that they’re cheaper to manufacture than mechanical keyboards, and thus they cost significantly less. There are also some other benefits. For example, membrane keyboards can’t be any noisier than they already are. The sound is pretty much inherent within each keystroke. This makes them great for office work where you don’t want to disturb anybody around you or prefer quiet peripherals.
On top of this, because there aren’t any physical switches (there’s no actual switch to break), membrane keyboards can be much more spill-resistant than mechanical ones. This makes them last much longer and makes the user less prone to damaging their keyboard if they accidentally knock something over or drop something on it! Unfortunately, the way that the keys feel leaves a lot to be desired. Membrane keyboards can be soft and squishy but also loud and slippery.
3. Flexible Keyboards
Another exciting type of keyboard is the flexible keyboard. These are very different from traditional membrane keyboards. Flexible keyboards use a rubber-like material for each keycap rather than using a flat sheet as a contact surface. They have two layers: a circuit board/contact layer, which you press down on, and a base layer, which is just like the exterior of a typical keyboard. This makes them very easy to clean (for example, if you want to get rid of some crumbs or spilled soda), but they can also be bent at any point along their edge. This allows for certain key combinations that membrane keyboards would typically not allow.
One of the best features of flexible keyboards is that there’s usually an indentation in each row where pictures/icons are printed. This means that when you’re editing documents (or doing pretty much anything else) on your computer, you can feel exactly where different letter keys are located! Flexible keyboards don’t have many issues; the only real downside is that the keys aren’t designed to be pressed in/pressed down as they would be on a membrane keyboard or a mechanical keyboard. So, if you’re the type that likes to slam your keys when you type, then this may not be the best option for you.
4. Ergonomic Keyboards
The final major group of keyboards is ergonomic keyboards. These keyboards are designed to improve posture and reduce strain while typing. One of the biggest problems with using a general-purpose (i.e., not specifically made for gaming) computer is that it’s often very poorly suited to one’s body. For example:
- The mouse and keyboard will typically be located much closer to each other than what works well for most people. This causes issues such as shoulder pain, back pain, wrist pain, etc.
- The keyboard will typically be built so that it can be used on an uneven typing surface. This means that the center of gravity of the keyboard will always be at its edges. This causes issues such as wrist splay and carpal tunnel syndrome.
The ergonomic keyboard is meant to address all these problems by making the following changes:
- The typical distance between mouse and keyboard should match what works well for each person.
- The design should support straight wrists (i.e., not angled like most keyboards), which helps reduce strain/pain during use.
An ergonomic keyboard is an excellent option for people who want to have a healthier computer setup. However, there are some downsides: they tend to be louder than membrane keyboards (because the actuation force on every key is usually more), and also they can get costly because of all the added bells and whistles (extra function keys, LCD screens, etc.).
5. Vertical Keyboards
Another exciting type of keyboard is the vertical keyboard. These look like mini laptops that you can place onto your desk; behind each keycap is another tiny screen that you can touch to activate that specific key. The idea is that it allows the user to orient themselves in whatever way works best for their body (e.g., standing, sitting, reclining on a couch). It’s certainly an exciting concept, but there are several issues with the design. First of all, is the fact that these types of keyboards are pretty much non-existent right now. The second big issue is that it would be tough to type on the vertical keyboard without looking down at the keys themselves (and this isn’t good for your neck muscles).
A new technology called Smart Clear Screen has been used to create projection keyboards. This new technology enables users to project images onto any flat surface. Well, then how do you type on them? You’d need special gloves or some other way of “typing” without actually touching anything. For example, if you want to order the word “hello,” then you would have to type in “h-e-l-l-o.” It’s an exciting technology, but there are still some significant limitations to typing speed and accuracy.
There are a ton of other types of keyboards that exist, to name a few:
· Handheld keyboards
· Ergonomic gaming keyboards
· Multimedia keyboards
· Vertical keyboard (desktop version)
As for choosing which type to go with, it’s really up to you. Gaming keyboards tend to be pretty great since they have all those special function keys, but they can also get expensive very quickly. If you want something cheaper and don’t care about having extra buttons, then an ergonomic keyboard might be best for you. And if you want a simple solution that works well enough without breaking the bank, then a membrane or standard mechanical would probably work great for you.