A keyboard is an interface that contains numbers, letters, symbols, and special characters used to communicate with a computer system and input data into different applications.
You probably already knew this—but did you know there are numerous kinds of keyboards that you can use to interact with your desktop or laptop?
From wireless or virtual to magic and mechanical, we’re sharing every different type of keyboard below.
1. Multimedia Keyboard
A multimedia keyboard can handle more than just typing letters or numbers. Also, it has buttons such as play, pause, next, back, volume up or down, and more.
Some will include mute keys or keys specifically used to launch a new kind of media.
Many also feature one-button functionality to launch a browser, calculator, or some other application. These keyboards can be expensive but they have many benefits!
2. Mechanical Keyboard
A mechanical keyboard is what most people use these days.
All this means is that there are physical button mechanisms for each key—when the key is pressed, it makes a small noise and pushes down on a trigger that tells the computer what character to input.
The first thing to understand about a mechanical keyboard is the switches. These are what make it “mechanical” instead of just an ordinary plastic-covered keyboard like you would find in most homes and offices.
Modern-day keyboards use rubber-dome technology, but these were not available when mechanical keyboards were originally created.
The most common type of mechanical switch is the clicky one. It gets its name from a clicking sound it makes as you press each key, which can be rather loud if not drowned out by other sounds or music.
There are also tactile and linear switches that don’t make this noise when activated instead providing more feedback than just a keypress.
Mechanical keyboards are also often designed to have a more ergonomic shape, which lets your wrists rest in a much more natural position as you type or game.
These designs can be either angled inward like a wedge if the keyboard is being used while sitting at an angle on your desk, or they can curve outward and become more rounded like a shallow bowl if the keyboard is being used at its normal height.
Also read: How to make a mechanical keyboard quieter?
3. Virtual Keyboard
As mentioned above, a virtual keyboard doesn’t include actual button mechanisms used to press the keys.
Instead, a virtual keyboard is just that—virtual.
A virtual keyboard is software that brings up an on-screen keyboard. This can be used as the primary input device for any computing device, like your laptop or mobile phone.
There are many advantages to this technology and it’s been around for a long time.
Why use a Virtual Keyboard?
There are so many reasons to use a virtual keyboard.
If you have discomfort in your hands or arms from typing, then this is the perfect solution for you! They also work really well with touchscreens and they don’t require any special hardware – just download it onto your computer and voila!
Their simplicity of design makes them great for children who are learning to type and for any user who has difficulty with a traditional keyboard.
You’ve likely used these keyboards before, as they are featured on almost all smartphones or tablets.
A touchscreen keyboard is a perfect example. The keyboard only pulls up when you need it, then it disappeared because there’s no physicality to it.
4. Wireless Keyboard
Wireless keyboards have become more popular in recent years due mainly to their convenience and portability, especially when used in conjunction with a laptop or other portable computing device.
Wireless keyboards usually rely on Bluetooth technology or radiofrequency to connect the keyboard to the computing system.
Each wireless keyboard utilizes a transmitter to send the strokes to the computer and a receiver, which captures the stroke instructions and inputs them into the system.
5. USB Keyboard
On the other hand, if you don’t have a wireless keyboard, it’s most likely a USB keyboard.
These rely on a USB cord to connect the keyboard to the computer, forging a physical connection used to transmit data.
These kinds of keyboards usually require an installation process to ensure it connects to your computer system.
6. QWERTY Keyboard
The first typewriters placed the alphabet out of order in what is known as a QWERTY order, as those are the first five letters when reading the keyboard from the top left.
Since humans got so used to using this style of keyboard, most modern keyboards also feature the letters arranged in this order to keep productivity high.
7. Ergonomic Keyboard
An ergonomic keyboard is simply one designed to fit naturally beneath the hands, reduce pain and tension, and boost productivity.
An ergonomic keyboard allows for more comfort while typing. The most common form it takes on are keyboards designed to allow the user’s hands to rest in an angled position, with the wrists and fingers at or near their natural angles.
This reduces muscle strain when using them over long periods of time.
Ergonomic Keyboard: Why use it?
The first reason you might choose to purchase an ergonomic keyboard is that you want more comfort while typing.
This will not only make typing easier but can also you from developing serious problems in the long term due to overuse of your hands and wrist.
The second reason someone might want to use an ergonomic keyboard is if they have a medical condition that prevents them from using their hands or wrists normally; this will allow you to do the same tasks on the computer as someone without any problems.
This kind of keyboard is helpful for you if you write long-form text on the computer.
8. Gaming Keyboard
A gaming keyboard is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a sleek, ergonomic keyboard that will make you feel more comfortable and less physically strained when using it for long periods of time.
Gaming keyboards are also specially designed to be used for games so they have special features such as volume controls or buttons on the side of the keyboard for quick access to features when playing games.
What are the benefits of a gaming keyboard?
There are many reasons that people might want to use or buy a gaming keyboard, but there is one major reason: comfort!
A big issue with more traditional keyboards was how uncomfortable they were when typing for long periods of time. Gaming keyboards have taken care of this issue so that you’ll never have to worry about getting a sore arm or wrist from typing.
9. Chiclet Keyboard
A chiclet keyboard features square-shaped keys that have rounded edges.
Take a look at the keyboard you’re using right now. It’s likely got the chiclet-shaped keys if you look closely. Chiclet keyboards can be wireless or USB and are typically standard QWERTY keyboards as well.
A Chiclet keyboard is the answer for those who spend hours on their computer every day.
It has large keys that are easy to press and spaced out enough so that your fingers don’t hit each other when you’re typing.
The result? You can type faster, more accurately, and with much less strain or pain!
10. Membrane Keyboard
Membrane keyboards are an alternative to the traditional dome switch keyboard, which most people use.
They have a membrane under each key that can be made of rubber or plastic and they create an electrical circuit when pressed down on.
The advantage to this kind of keyboard is its lightweight and durability due to the lack of moving parts.
What are some benefits of using a membrane keyboard?
This kind of keyboard is great because it’s more durable than other kinds, and the design also provides for an ergonomic typing experience.
The keys themselves can be lower profile which makes them easier to push down on, so they will feel less like you have to force your fingers down on them.
They’re also good for gaming due to their responsiveness as well.
Unfortunately, membrane keyboards are known to have some issues with accuracy, making the standard mechanical keyboard a better option.
11. Flexible Keyboard
Similar to a membrane keyboard, a flexible keyboard is made of flexible material, usually silicone.
The keys and board itself are both flexible, meant to be rolled up and taken wherever it needs to go.
It’s designed to allow you to have a comfortable typing posture and help prevent repetitive stress injury (RSI) caused by incorrect hand placement on flat keyboards.
That means it will be ergonomic, no matter how much your body hurts!
How does it work?
A flexible Keyboard is placed on a surface and the keyboard will resize to fit that surface.
That means you can use Flexible Keyboard anywhere, whether at home or in your office! The flexible design of this innovative keyboard also allows different hand positions so typing should be more comfortable for everyone.
While this does sound amazing, in my experience, you can not work for long hours on a flexible keyboard. After a while, I just start missing a regular keyboard without more clickity clackity sound.
12. Thumb Keyboard
A thumb keyboard is smaller, made to be used primarily by the thumb for arithmetic operations, gaming, and more.
It’s an ergonomic device for people who have arthritis or other types of repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
The basic premise behind thumb keyboards is to place the keys in a curved shape so they are easy to reach with your thumbs.
You’d be amazed at how small these can be, as they only have a few keys or may only include numerals.
13. Laptop-Sized Keyboard
In a laptop-sized keyboard, usually, the only difference is that the spaces in between letters and numbers are smaller to ensure the keyboard isn’t larger than the keyboard.
They may include a reduced number of functions to guarantee the fit as well.
14. Backlit Keyboard
If you tend to do most of your typing in the dark, you may enjoy using a backlit keyboard, which illuminates just below the buttons, making them easier to see in low lighting.
The keys on this type of keyboard have been designed so that you can see them without any need to turn the lights on or adjust your computer screen brightness.
This means you will be able to type away even if there isn’t much natural light in the room.
Backlit keyboards can be found in offices, hospitals, and other establishments that require long hours of typing.
15. Magic Keyboard
Made by Mac, the Magic Keyboard is a branded accessory made to use with an Apple desktop.
This keyboard runs on a battery that can last for a few months but will need to be charged every once in a while.
They are extremely lightweight and smaller than the average keyboard.
16. Chorded Keyboard
A chorded keyboard allows the user to enter commands by pressing several different keys at the same time, similar to playing a chord on a piano.
Chorded keyboards are usually smaller, and they haven’t seen as much success as other designs.
17. Bluetooth Keyboard
A Bluetooth keyboard relies on Bluetooth to connect the keyboard to the computing system.
These also qualify as wireless keyboards and are the most popular of the kind.
Different Keyboard Uses
While the average user has a keyboard for typing purposes, there are some other ways someone may use a keyboard to their advantage.
- Basic work – Used to write text, perform numerical equations, input numbers, etc.
- Computer commands – Used to tell the computer to do something, like close the window, take a screenshot, submit a field, or something similar
- Gaming – used to control a video game player or perform video game actions
- Music – Chorded keyboards can help digital musicians produce tracks
Once you know how you plan to use your keyboard, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you select one.
What to Consider When Buying a Keyboard
Before you make a purchasing decision, here’s what you should evaluate regarding your keyboard needs:
Type of Work
What type of work do you plan to do on it? We covered this above, but ensure the keyboard you choose has all the features you need to get your work (or pleasure browsing) done.
Are you a gamer that needs to be able to command your player using the keyboard? Are you a copywriter who uses the keys for a long period of extended time?
You may want something ergonomic. Exploring how you intend to use the keyboard will help point you in the right direction.
You don’t want to take your keyboard out of the box and start using it only to find that you hate the way the keystrokes feel.
You don’t want the buttons to get stuck or for the keys to feel too choppy.
There are options available for those who prefer a short and choppy feel as well as options for those who want something that feels soft and comfortable.
Most keyboards connect to their computer via a USB cord or wireless connection.
If you prefer one or the other, make that part of your filters as you search. If you choose a keyboard that uses Bluetooth or some other wireless compatibility, confirm that they can connect before you buy.
Architecture and Ergonomics
The design of the keyboard matters. A gaming keyboard has a very different structure to it than a standard keyboard does, and so on. Think about how the way you plan to use the keyboard impacts your needs for its design and ergonomics.
If you tend to work at night, you may need a backlit keyboard. If you have carpal tunnel, you should invest the money in a well-reviewed ergonomic keyboard. The list goes on.
Wired vs. Wireless
There are pros and cons to both sides of this debate. A wireless keyboard has more flexibility and eliminates clutter and cord mess from your desk.
On the other hand, it can make gameplay lag and may die preemptively, requiring more charging before you can use it again.
A wired keyboard takes up more space, though, and can leave your desk looking cluttered. Oftentimes, you can find a keyboard that offers both options so you can choose.
Of course, you should also consider the price. Certain features and ergonomic support can drive up the price, but if it’s a feature you need, it’s usually worth the splurge.
That being said, stand firm in your budget and don’t let marketing claims convince you that you need the most expensive model.
While a keyboard might seem like just one simple computer accessory, there’s a wide variety of types, designs, and functionalities that you can find to suit your needs.
Hopefully, this article helped support you as you shop for the best fit for you.
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