Choosing Your Keyboard

A How-to for choosing your future keyboard

Steve Smith explains why the type of switch, layout, comfort, feature sets, and the longevity of the keyboard matter when deciding on your next keyboard.

Episode #5-31 released on April 23, 2015

Watch on Youtube

Choosing a keyboard for yourself can be a challenge in itself. We, all, have our own preferences, and some keyboards take some getting used to. This is why, today, I give you the five points I use to buy my own keyboards, to better help you buy a better keyboard suited for your needs.

The 5 points we will be analyzing are type of switch, layout, comfort, feature sets, and longevity of the keyboard.

When picking out a keyboard for your own personal computer, like a tower, you have a choice with membrane, and mechanical keyed keyboards. The majority of people will currently be using a membrane keyboard, mainly for cost reasons. It is the most common keyboard because of how cheap it is to make, overall. This kind of key however, requires you to fully travel the key to engage the sensor to tell the computer which key you have depressed. This is why it is technically called a full-travel membrane-based keyboard.

Then you have the mechanical keyboard, which I am personally a fan of. These keyboards can be identified by the clicking sound they make every single time you press a keyboard. And, unlike the membrane keyboard, don't require you to press the keys to the bottom, simply press until you hear, and feel the click, and the work is done. The most common mechanical key switch is Cherry MX Blue, however, you have brown, red, black, green, and several other mechanical types including Topre switches. You even have Razer creating new Cherry MX like keys which register keystrokes 1.3 higher on the key stem, than the Cherry MX equivalent.

The next details in picking out a keyboard is layout. Most of you may presume that there is one way to make a keyboard, and this is not true. We will ignore the differences between QWERTY, and AZERTY, and look the differences between what is the standard layout, and the 10 keyless layout. The full keyboard is practical for a great many reasons, mainly because you have the number pad, which can be useful for a lot of reasons. However, for some gamers, and some users, the number pad is not useful, and the same required to keep it could be assigned to other items on the desk. If you need the number pad, get a keyboard with one. If you never use the number pad, then you can now get keyboards with the classification of 10 keyless, which implies no number pad.

Comfort, a big deal when it comes to keyboards, but keep in mind, that your desk has a share in this discussion. The height you place a keyboard, and the angle of the keys can make or break the experience. The task can, also, dictate what is best for you. There are a great many styles of keyboard, but the best idea for this section, is to use the keyboard. You may at this point consider getting a keyboard with a wrist rest, or purchasing a better one that suits your needs. Some may even want keyboards without a wrist rest. This is your choice.

The next detail we must look at, are your needs. This will determine the features that best suit the nature of your buy. Most keyboards are wired. Great because battery life is not an issue. Easier to use and install. Some of you will need a wireless keyboard for multimedia computers, some may want backlit keys. And, many neglect the usefulness of multimedia keys, especially the dedicated multimedia keys. It the case of gamers, and other users who may have some repetitive tasks, you may want to consider using keyboards with macro keys built in. This is the part where you sit down and think hard about what you need in your keyboard.

The last detail is longevity. While, the warranty implies the length of time the keyboard under normal usage, should last at the very minimum, keep in mind, that the type of key switch, and the build influence the overall longevity of the keyboard. A membrane keyboard can endure roughly 1 million key repetitions per switch before failure may in theory occur. A mechanical key switch may endure on average of 50 million key stroke repetitions, and some companies like Razer boosting 60 million key stroke repetitions.

The primary difference is cost. You can buy a cheap full-travel membrane-based keyboard for roughly fifteen dollars. A mechanical keyboard starts are eighty dollars. The mechanical keyboard has an expected repetition rate of 50 times more than the cheaper keyboards. If you are good in matter, this comes out to less than $2 per million keystroke repetitions, per key, compared to the fifteen for the membrane keys.

The choice is ultimately yours. Good hunting.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

Sources & Resources

Community Comments

Share your thoughts, opinions and suggestions

Login or Register to post Your comment.