Types of Keyboards: How to Choose the Right One
Your laptop's built-in keyboard may not always be the best choice to suit your comfort or productivity needs. Find out which of the many types of keyboards — wired, wireless, ergonomic and more — fits your work style.
Updated March 18, 2020
Even though we no longer hear the click-clack of typewriter keys when we type on modern computers and laptops, it can still be immensely gratifying to feel our fingers flying across a keyboard when we are in the writing zone. In order to maximize your everyday typing experience, consider the wide range of keyboards now available. Typing comfort and convenient, efficient key layout are two main areas that may factor into your decision about which type of keyboard to purchase. Consider these different types of keyboards to meet your typing, comfort and convenience needs.
Different Options in Keyboards and Keypads
Computer keyboards typically can be grouped into two main categories: basic or extended keyboards. Within these two classes are many different types of keyboards, which offer a variety of features. Different types of keyboard technology also exist, such as scissor switch keyboards (common on notebooks and netbooks) and full press membrane keyboards (common for desktop computers). The different keyboard technologies allow for varying user experiences, such as how hard a key must be pressed to convey the message to type a character.
Designed in the likeness of old-fashioned typewriters, QWERTY is the most common keyboard layout. Generations of typists have come to know the QWERTY keyboard, and most students learn to type with this kind of keyboard layout.
Ergonomic keyboards refer to any keyboards designed to reduce strain on the body from typing. These kinds of keyboards are often laid out so that you can rest your hands in a more comfortable, natural position as you type.
This variety of wireless keyboard connects to your PC using a small device called a dongle, which you plug into one of your laptop’s USB ports. The dongle transmits a signal between your laptop and the keyboard to enable wireless typing.
A bit pricier than other wireless keyboard models, Bluetooth keyboards offer numerous features and benefits. As you might be able to guess by the name, these keyboards sync up with a laptop using Bluetooth connectivity.
Offered by Apple, the Magic Keyboard brings a polished look and rechargeable battery to the table. These Bluetooth-enabled keyboards connect to Mac computers automatically. As with any other Apple product, however, the “Magic” comes at a price; these are some of the most expensive everyday keyboards on the market.
An ambient glow from your keyboard makes it easy to type in the dark or in low-lighting, and can also deliver a stunning “wow” factor.
These types of keyboards are designed for avid PC gamers, offering extra durable and the quickest key response times for split-second action.
These keyboards offer the same features as standard QWERTY keyboards, but they’re designed for maximum portability. Flexible keyboards are usually made of silicon, so you can roll them up and take them anywhere.
Membrane keyboards are designed without space between the individual keys. The keys are pressure-sensitive, with the different characters outlined on a flat surface.
Deciding on the Best Keyboard for Your Needs
When computer shopping, few things can be as frustrating as ending up with a brand-new laptop with a noticeably awkward keyboard. Whether you don't like the key layout or you want to try to improve your productivity, a new keyboard can offer plenty of benefits. Thankfully, today's technology makes it easy to connect a different keyboard to your computer through Bluetooth or a wireless USB connection. Finding the right keyboard may take a little time and research, but the results are sure to be worth it.
Sometimes the easiest way to choose a keyboard is to go with what you know and purchase one that carries the same features and layout as a recent model that you had and liked. Other times, it's best to dig deep into the possibilities and consider all the available options. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you work to determine the best keyboard for you:
1. First things first: Do you prefer a wireless keyboard or a wired one?
2. What are your main tasks to complete using this keyboard?
3. Is the keyboard compatible with your existing computer system?
4. Will you be most comfortable using a standard, gaming or ergonomic keyboard?
5. Are there any essential features needed, such as a touchpad or special function keys to create shortcuts?
6. What is the budget for this new keyboard?
Consider the different types of keyboards and how each improves your user experience. Remember that many keyboards are designed with specific functions in mind, such as gaming keyboards, or ergonomic keyboards that work well for those who do a large amount of typing, like writers and programmers. Keep all of these aspects in mind, and be sure to read through some reviews to understand your options and the performance you can expect from any given model on the market.