The 4 Different Types of Keyboards

The keyboard is one of two primary ways you interact with your computer or laptop, and you use it all day long. Many people opt for a cheap option or just use the one that comes included with the computer, but there are far more options and offerings from keyboard manufacturers than you might realize. If you do a lot of typing or use your computer all day, it’s worthwhile having a look at the different options and finding one that you enjoy using. Here are the four different types of keyboards.

Mechanical Keyboards

In 1986, IBM released their IBM Model M Keyboard, which is widely considered to still be one of the best keyboards of all time thanks to its impressive build quality and tactile feedback from the keys, and ease of use. It marked a turning point in the manufacture of keyboards into what we know today.

These days, mechanical keyboards from big manufacturers, like those fully-featured RGB gaming keyboards that gamers love, still use very similar technology to the Model M more than 30 years later. Mechanical keyboards are loved because of this tactile feedback and the variation in the switches used on each key to produce a keyboard with a variant to suit almost any typist or gamer. They tend to fetch a higher price thanks to their mechanical construction, but everyone who uses them swears they’d never return to a membrane keyboard.

Membrane Keyboards

Membrane keyboards, while they provide the same function, are very different from mechanical keyboards. Instead of individual switches, the mechanical keyboard uses a rubber membrane that sits below the keys on the keyboard, providing the mechanism to make an electronic connection and send the keystroke to the PC, as well as providing the spring to return the key to its original position. They’re cheap and cost very little to manufacture, and for the average user, they are usually suitable.

Membrane keyboards have several downsides, like their longevity, which tends to not be as good as the mechanical keyboard, and their lack of ability to process more than about three keys simultaneously.

Scissor Switch Keyboards

The scissor-switch keyboard is identifiable by its very low profile, making it perfect for use on laptops and low-profile keyboards. It uses a mechanical scissor-like mechanism to actuate a rubber dome that is responsible for making the electronic connection and sending the key press to the PC, as well as returning the key to its original position.

The scissor design is very flat and compact, so it saves a lot of space over traditional higher-profile keycaps on mechanical and membrane keyboards, which is why they’re used in laptop computers. It’s unusual to find scissor switch keyboards outside of use on portable laptop computers, but some lightweight compact external keyboards make use of them.

Computer keyboards are often taken for granted, but if you take the time to look at them a bit closer, you’ll realize there is an enormous variety of types, styles, and options available. Some might offer lighter actuation force while others might be sculpted ergonomically to prevent common typing injuries. There’s a keyboard for everyone.

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