How to choose a keyboard for your computer

When choosing a computer, most buyers carefully select the contents of the case: motherboard, processor, video card, etc. The case itself, the monitor and the speakers are also rarely neglected. But the future owner of the computer often takes the mouse and keyboard “the first ones that come along.” Sometimes he does not even know what types of keyboards are, how they differ and how these differences can help or, conversely, hinder.

It happens that a person takes an inexpensive membrane keyboard, and then is surprised at the number of missing letters in the typed text. Or, on the contrary, having obeyed a consultant, he will buy an expensive mechanical keyboard, and then complain about tight keys and a loud sound of their pressing.

Despite the seeming monotony, different keyboards differ greatly in their capabilities. It is the keyboard that is still the main input device for most PCs, and if you do not take into account its characteristics when purchasing, then “understanding” with a computer can become much more complicated. Before you start choosing a model, it is recommended to study 10 mistakes when choosing a keyboard.

About the variety of keyboards
When choosing a model, you need to take into account the purpose and features of use. Personal feelings and preferences are important, so there is no definite answer to the question of which keyboard is better. A model that one user likes can cause frustration and irritation to another, even in similar operating scenarios, for example, when typing.

Conventionally, keyboards can be divided into four main categories:

Office . Budget models with a minimum set of functions, but no restrictions on the size.
Ergonomic . These are keyboards improved for work and typing. These models are specially designed to reduce fatigue and prevent disease. Usually have a palm rest.

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Multimedia . Universal models of the lower and middle price categories. Additional multimedia keys enhance your computer experience.
Gaming . Such devices are adapted for gaming and e-sports. Characteristic features include aggressive design and backlighting. Inexpensive gaming keyboards are not much different from multimedia ones, and models of the upper price segment boast advanced functionality.

Someone needs a simple budget keyboard, and someone even modifies models for enthusiasts at a price of tens of thousands of rubles. Here we can think of Teflon and silicone lubricants for keyboards, which can significantly change the experience of interacting with the device. Everyone’s requests and requirements are different. The variety of offers is explained by the desire of manufacturers to please the largest possible audience. Logically, the question arises of how an expensive keyboard differs from a cheap one, which was discussed in detail in this article .

Partially mechanical gaming membrane keyboard from A4Tech brand

You can remember the existence of projection and touch keyboards, as well as other rare varieties. The most common types of keyboards are membrane and mechanical, and the rest of the options are, in fact, their varieties and improvements. It is often said that a mechanical keyboard is definitely better than any other, or that a good membrane keyboard is better than an inexpensive mechanical one. Disputes about this do not subside to this day. The answer can be found in the article “Mechanical keyboards versus membrane” .

Membrane
Membrane keyboards consist of three cellophane membranes – two with applied contact tracks, between which a third is laid, with holes opposite the keys. On top of the membranes there is an elastic silicone backing with bulges under each key.

When pressed, the button “pushes” the upper membrane until it contacts the lower one; when the button is released, the silicone “cap” returns it to its place. The simplicity of the device creates the main advantage of the membrane keyboard: it is cheap. Another plus of the membrane keyboard: it is easy to make it waterproof – the manufacturer only needs to seal the membrane package and the controller. Such a keyboard will take out not only a spilled mug of coffee, but also full immersion under water and at the same time will cost a little more than usual.

And now the cons, which, alas, are more:

Closing of contacts occurs only at the very end of the key stroke and this requires some effort. If the key is not even slightly brought (or brought with insufficient effort), there will be no closure. “Drop-down” letters when typing quickly are a common occurrence on these keyboards.
The membranes deform over time, the tracks on them wear out. The resource of membrane keypads is the lowest among this type of device – 5-10 million clicks.
Silicone “ages” over time, its elasticity changes, it begins to crack.
If the keyboard is not sealed, then the liquid trapped between the membranes will dry for a very long time – the keyboard will have to be completely disassembled to dry it.
Due to the “mesh” connection of the contact pads, inexpensive membrane keyboards are able to recognize a maximum of 3 simultaneous presses of adjacent keys.

Such keyboards are suitable for office, multimedia or home computer. You should not use such keyboards for typing large amounts of text or for e-sports.

Plunger
Plunger keyboards are structurally similar to membrane keypads – in them, the keys are also returned by the silicone caps located under them. But there are no membranes here, the contacts are located on a textolite substrate, and they are closed by conductive pads fixed under the protuberances of the silicone plate. Such keyboards are more expensive than membrane keyboards, but their resource is twice as high, and the force for closing is small (no need to overcome the membrane resistance).

Plunger keyboards can be used for games and for typing. But for both purposes they are not as comfortable as mechanical ones – their main disadvantage is that the contacts are closed only at the very end of the key stroke.

Scissor
Scissor keyboards can be both membrane and plunger, but they are distinguished by the presence of a scissor mechanism that prevents the keys from skewing when pressed at a non-right angle. In conventional keyboards, to prevent skewing, the key moves along a shaft 5–7 mm high, the use of a scissor mechanism instead of shafts allows the height of the keys to be reduced to 2–4 mm.

These features of scissor keyboards – low height and short travel – have led to their ubiquitous use in laptops, but scissor keyboards with low-profile keys are also found as peripherals for PCs.

The scissor mechanism increases the resource of the keyboard by 1.5-2 times, but also increases its price. The rest of the features are the same as for conventional membrane or plunger keyboards.

Mechanical
In mechanical keyboards, each key contains a separate switch (switch). The actuation is registered at half the stroke of the key, which reduces the load on the hands. The models differ greatly in the parameters of the switches and the features of a particular model, which for someone are advantages, for you may turn out to be disadvantages.

The main advantages of mechanical keyboards:

closing occurs in the middle of the key stroke, which significantly increases the reliability of pressing;
a large selection of different types of switches allows you to choose the keyboard in accordance with personal preferences in terms of elasticity and key response;
high resource – 50-100 million clicks.
There is one drawback of mechanical keyboards – high price. When choosing a mechanical keyboard, be sure to pay attention to the type of switch. Various manufacturers offer a wide range of switches with different characteristics, but all of them are conventionally divided into three types.

Uniform effort, no response to contact, no click. Considered the most suitable option for gaming keyboards. Corresponding switch models (key types): Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Speed ​​(early closure – at the beginning of the key stroke), Cherry MX Black (more force), Cherry MX Silent (reduced noise), LK Optic Red (optical contact), Kailh Red, Kailh Black, Outemu Red, Outemu Black, SteelSeries QX2, SteelSeries QS1 (short travel). The effort is uneven, there is a tactile response – after contact, the effort weakens. There is no click. Suitable for both text printing and games. Corresponding switch models (key types): Cherry MX Brown, Logitech Romer-G (short travel, early closure), Cherry MX Clear (more force), LK libra Brown (optical contact), LK Libra Orange (optical contact), Razer Orange , Kailh Brown, Outemu Brown, Greetech Brown, etc. The effort is uneven, there is a tactile response, accompanied by a click. Considered the best choice for typing, although some users dislike key noise and prefer quieter Brown switches. Matching Key Types: Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Green (more force), Razer Green, Cherry MX White (even more force – simulate a typewriter), LK light Strike (optical contact), Kailh Blue, Outemu Blue, Greetech Blue, Rapoo Blue, Jixian Blue, etc.
A separate article is devoted to the peculiarities of choosing mechanical keyboards .

Partially mechanical
Some manufacturers offer mixed keyboards to reduce the price – 6-10 frequently used keys are mechanical, and the rest are membrane.

Such keyboards are suitable for shooters (traditionally using the WASD keys and those closest to them), but not for typing. For better choose among fully mechanical or membrane keyboards.

Optomechanical
The principle of operation is similar to mechanical keyboards, but instead of closing the contacts, the registration of clicks is fixed when the beam of light that hits the sensor is interrupted or transmitted. Read more about the differences between opto-mechanical and mechanical keyboards here .