Computer Keyboards: All You Need to Know

Computer is the most significant revolution of its time, and nowadays every business needs at least one computer system to manage different things like inventory management, coding, office management, etc. different business needs can be different but they anyhow need a computer system

In short, in the professional world, you will find that there is need of computer everywhere. In fact, in schools and colleges, computer education becomes prominent.

When it comes to computers, various input and output devices which are needed to use the computer. Keyboard is one of the most important input devices that you need every time you sit to work on desktop PC or laptop. Though laptops have keypads attached to them by default, many of us still get an external keyboard for them for the ease of use.

What is a Keyboard?

Keyboard is an input device that is connected to computer either with a wire or wirelessly. Pressing the keys of keyboard do certain tasks such as typing characters, and other things. Combination of keys can do different tasks as well; for example, on a Windows PC, Window + E combination is used to open the windows explorer. Alt + Tab combination is used to switch between opened programs. Certain keys do specific tasks in different programs as well.

Without a keyboard, it is almost impossible to work with a computer. Even while writing this article, I am using a keyboard to type. However, nowadays, there are touchscreen laptops available in the market in which you have touch keypads on the screen itself.

Keyboard Layouts

Generally, the keyboards nowadays we use are of QWERTY layout which was primarily designed for Typewriters. With the introduction of computers and laptops, Typewriters have become antiquated. But, the QWERTY layout stayed in use, and our modern day’s keyboards are based on this layout only. However, other layouts were designed as well such as DVORAK, but they are not much in use. You may read more about QWERTY Vs. DVORAK layout here.

Types of Computer Keyboards

Though there are various types of keyboard, we will talk about the most used keyboard types; Membrane Keyboards and Mechanical keyboards.

What is a Membrane Keyboard?

A membrane keyboard is also known as a Regular keyboard which is mostly used. When you buy a computer system, you get a keyboard that is membrane keyboard only. Since, this is quite affordable and fine to use, most of us use this.

Membrane keyboard
These regular keyboards use a rubber that looks like a membrane underneath the keys which makes contact with the circuit when keys are pressed.

Regular keyboards are good, but when it comes to gaming or typing a lot, I would not recommend these because you might feel pain in your finger joints after typing a lot. And, these are just not made for gaming so you won’t get the best gaming experience using these.

What is a Mechanical Keyboard?

Mechanical keyboards are love ♥. They are called mechanical because they are fitted with mechanical switches in place of a rubber membrane. Different types of mechanical switches are there in the market, but Cherry MX is the most used switch in the mechanical keyboards. It has many variants such as Cherry MX Green, Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Brown, etc. Some variants are Linear, some are tactile but non-clicky, and some are tactile and clicky.

Photo Credit: Reddit

These keyboards are best for gaming, however, if you want to get for gaming, get a Mechanical gaming keyboard and not just mechanical keyboard because when you get a gaming specific mechanical keyboard, it does have some extra controls that help you play games in a far better way.

Apart from this, where there is need of a lot of typing work, I would highly recommend because when you press the keys, they bounce back quickly which ease you while typing. They bounce back because in the mechanical switches there used springs. Also, you don’t need press hard. Even while playing games you hit the keys harder, they don’t get broken because they are very durable as compared to the regular keyboards.

Even I am a user of Mechanical Keyboard. But, since I am not a gamer, I didn’t go invest a lot in the mechanical keyboard, and I got cost effective TVS Gold Bharat Mechanical keyboard which is made in India.

Geeks love to use Mechanical keyboards because of the ease of use and the sound of keys when pressed. The reason I am using is that I love the key sound, and I have a lot of typing work as I am writing the article, I am still typing :P. If you are still not sure about mechanical Keyboards, do read our guide to mechanical Keyboards.

Main Differences between Membrane Keyboard and Mechanical Keyboard:

  • Membrane keyboards are cheap whereas Mechanical keyboards are very costly
  • Membrane keyboards are mostly quiet when the keys are pressed whereas Mechanical keyboards are louder when keys are pressed.
  • Membrane keyboards’ keys start to get jammed or start sticking when they get old whereas mechanical keys don’t get jammed or stuck even when they are old. However, exceptions can be there.

Now, you know much about keyboards. Let’s talk about what all to consider while buying a keyboard.

Keyboard Buying Guide

When you want to buy a keyboard, you must be clear about the use. I mean whether you are going to use it for gaming or for typing all the day or just for casual use.

Few factors you must consider which are as:

Connectivity Options

You must consider this factor as important because you might make a wise selection if you know. The simplest way of connecting a keyboard to computer is through a USB cable. You just need to plug and start using the keyboard. Moreover, before USB came into use, PS/2 plugs were used to connect keyboards to the computer.

This was good, but USB cable connectivity is better because you can connect that to laptops as well because you won’t find PS/2 port in laptops. Therefore, if you like wired keyboard, make sure you get that has USB cable connectivity.

If you are the one who doesn’t like to have wires all around, then the best choice will be the wireless keyboards that connect to computer using Bluetooth technology or RF (Radio Frequency). However, RF depends on the USB port because you need to connect a receiver for it in the USB port of the computer, so the better choice is Bluetooth that uses the Bluetooth technology of your computer system. Laptops come with Bluetooth enabled, but assembled desktop PCs might not have this option enabled so you need to ask for it to be installed while assembling. Moreover, if you get a branded PC, that will have this Bluetooth thing enabled already.

When you connect your wireless keyboard to the computer, you have to pair it with the PC which is an easy thing, but for many, it might be a tough task. It is surely a bit complex than the wired keyboard which you can just plug and use.

These are the reasons; you must take the connectivity options into consideration while buying a keyboard.

Key Switches

General users generally don’t look up to the mechanics of the keyboard but you should do because it’s all about your comfort, budget, and durability.

The standard keyboards that you get with your PC when you buy are called membrane keyboards, and in that Silicone Dome Switches are used which forms a grid of rubber bubbles. The silicone rubber is soft and hence when you press the key, you feel it soft. These switches need you to press the button to the bottom to type a character, and due to this regular stretching in the rubber cause the membrane to break down. And, gradually they lose their springiness.

However, these keys are quiet which means when you type, it doesn’t make much sound so even at night, you can type while someone is sleeping beside you. Also, the keyboards with silicone dome switches are quite cheap. Everyone can afford it.

On the other hand, Mechanical Switches are used in some keyboards, and that is why they are called Mechanical keyboards. These switches have spring underneath the key. Different types of mechanical switches are in the market but Cherry MX is the most used. These keys are a bit louder but typing experience can be great as even after long hours of typing, you won’t feel the pain. You don’t need to press the keys hard as you just need to touch and press a little, and typing will be done.

Usually, the keyboards with these switches are costly.  However, some cheap alternatives are there. Also, these are heavily used for gaming purpose. So, if you are to play games, you should go with mechanical keyboards.

That is the reason; you must consider this factor while buying a keyboard for your use.

Portability

Though there is laptop’s own keyboard is there attached to it, some are used to of an external keyboard. Therefore, always try choosing the one that is portable. I mean small in size (they won’t have a separate number pad), and lightweight. The keys are smaller.

Few companies manufacture such keyboards that are easy to carry and fit well in a normal laptop bag.

For better understanding, I am sharing a few keyboards that you can check out.

Membrane Keyboards:

 

Mechanical Keyboards:

 

Now, you have a good knowledge of keyboards, so that you can choose the best when you next time plan to buy a keyboard for your laptop or desktop PC.

Keyboards FAQs

1. What is a Tactile Keyboard?

Ans: A keyboard is Tactile if it is used with Tactile key switches. A tactile key switch is the one that has bump in the response the keypress. It requires less effort on each keypress because you don’t need to press hard. Also, it bounces back to your response which makes typing faster as well.

2. What does Linear Switch mean?

Ans: Linear switch is just opposite of Tactile Switch as it produces resistance until the key is fully pressed till bottom.

3. What does Clicky Switch Mean?

Ans: Clicky Switch prodcues sound when pressed, and also they are tactile. All clicky switches are tactile but all tactile switches may or may not be clicky.

4. Which Keyboard is the best Regular or Mechanical?

Ans: There is no perfect answer to this question because it varies with users. However, most of the people do love Mechanical Keyboards. But, general computer users don’t even realise that which type of keyboard they are using.

5. Which one is better Wireless or Wired?

Ans: Both are good. There are no differences in the response time. It is just that wired one needs wire to attach it to the computer and wireless doesn’t need wire but wireless keyboards need an inbuilt battery so that it gets power from that. Wired keyboards don’t need a battery because they get power from CPU when they are connected using wire. So there are pros and cons of both. It all depends on your liking.

Also, read our recommendations of Top 5 Mechanical Gaming Keyboards:

Top 5 Mechanical Gaming Keyboards to Satisfy Your Gaming Needs

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