What are the different types of keyboards you can buy?

When it comes to keyboards, it’s definitely different strokes for different applications.

The all-purpose QWERTY has almost gone the way of the LaserDisc and the DeLorean.

Let’s take a look at the more popular types of keyboards out there and how they are best applied.

Mechanical Keyboards

A mechanical keyboard is engineered with spring activated key switches. This was pretty much the only type of personal keyboard in the 1980s.

Rubber dome keyboards became a replacement for mechanical keyboards because they’re cheaper to manufacture.

But the more expensive mechanical keyboards can give 20 o 30 years of loyal service without missing a beat.

Or a letter.

 The rubber dome, introduced in the 1990s, is the market’s most popular model. For some of the best in mechanical keyboards today, check out this model.

Membrane Keyboards

These are rubber dome keyboards by another name.

Although some people refer to touch sensitive keyboards as “membrane” that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Membrane keyboards don’t use mechanical switches but a layer of rubber domes arranged over an electronic membrane instead.

These keyboards are extremely common in day-to-day operations.

In fact, pretty much every single keyboard you find in schools, colleges and offices is a membrane keyboard.

They’re cost-effective and functional, but tend not to have a very long lifespan.

Ergonomic Keyboards

Once the new office worker began using keyboards on a day to day basis the world was introduced to the idea of repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel syndrome.

So a whole new generation of keyboards was designed to counter these problems.

Ergonomic keyboards appeared from a number of big tech names such as Microsoft and Logitech.

These types of keyboard alleviate wrist strain by putting the hands in a more relaxed and natural position.

Some models even add padded wrist support.

But choose your ergonomic input device carefully – make sure it will actually solve your repetitive strain problem and not make it worse.

An ergonomic specialist can help give you some tips and advice on that one.

Here’s an interesting and affordable ergonomic option from Microsoft.

Gaming Keyboards

Gaming accessories remains a huge and profitable market.

An entire segment of the industry is devoted to the gamer.

And just as there are a variety of games and consoles, there are specialized keyboards.

High-end gamers look for rollover keys, programmable macro functions for combining keyboard combinations in single key press and backlighting for playing in dark environments.

For the gamer, their keyboards have to react as quickly as they do while also taking a lot of punishment, so being able to create and execute unique keyboard sequences is invaluable to them.

That’s also why gamers tend to favor mechanical keyboards.

 SteelSeries, Corsair and Razer are some of the more popular gaming keyboard brands.

Wireless Keyboards

The wire-free keyboard’s been around for more than a minute but with everything going wireless these days the idea seems “new”.

In fact, every style of keyboard on this list has a wireless version too.

It’s getting difficult to find actual wired keyboards these days.

The wireless keyboard utilizes infrared technology, either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

They don’t just connect to your PC either.

You can reach out to control or interact with smartphones, smart TVs and tablets.

This gives some smaller devices a whole new level of functionality.

The only downside is that most wireless keyboards are either battery operated or need to be charged via a USB

If freedom of movement is important, then the wireless keyboard option like the Corsair K83 Wireless Entertainment Keyboard is one to consider.

Foldable Keyboards

Also called the flexible keyboard, some foldable keyboards are manufactured from materials like silicone while others are hinged.

This allows the keyboard to be rolled or folded into an easily transportable size.

Anyone who travels a lot or needs to stay mobile will enjoy the benefit of a keyboard like this..

Many of these keyboards have a silent operation and tend to be water resistant if they’re made from silicon.

These devices do tend to have a shorter lifespan than any other type of keyboard.

Here’s a foldable and rollable option in keyboards.

Projection/Laser keyboards

Probably the most fascinating item on the list (meaning everyone would like to try one) are projection keyboards.

The tech uses lasers to display a keyboard image on a hard, flat surface.

You now have a virtual keyboard that you can use almost anywhere.

Optical sensors detect key touches and send them to the I/O interface of your computer or device.

They convert contact with the projected image using the same functionality a standard keyboard applies to switches.

Users like them because they reduce logging and they’re fun to use.

These keyboards tend to attract the user who must have the latest tech.

Backlit Keyboards

Backlit keyboards illuminate keys with small strategically placed LED lights.

They’re popular with gamers because you can see the keyboard no matter what time of night it is.

These LED-powered keyboards come in a variety of color and sizes, including some with specially coated keycaps.

Some of the latest laptops also come with backlit keyboards.

These are ideal if you find yourself working in dimly lit or dark work spaces.

For a lot of users, backlit keyboards have become peripheral essentials when burning the midnight oil.- gamers being a perfect example.

The latest devices, like this one, have steadily grown in market share.

Solar Keyboards

A solar powered keyboard needs no external power source.

Instead it draws its energy from sunlight, making these types of keyboards environmentally friendly.

The latest devices can run for several months on a full solar charge.

So direct sunlight isn’t always required – just to top it up now and again.

The newest keyboards also contain features that allow ambient light to recharge the keyboard’s battery.

Which means the keyboard can be charged indoors.

This solution eliminates not just the need for wires, but batteries.

 As usual, Logitech leads the field in this technology – check out the company’s MK750 as proof of that.

Mini-wireless Keyboards

A mini-wireless keyboard is usually a keyboard and touchpad in one.

They’re compact and have physical keys and can typically connect to just about any device.

The touchpad usually only functions with computers though, although the actual keyboard can be used with any device that supports Bluetooth connections.

Overall, mini-wireless keyboards tend to be used most often to connect to smart TVs, Raspberry Pi’s etc.

But they do also have professional applications. Here’s a surprisingly affordable mini-wireless keyboard.

Wrap Up

And that brings us to the end of our quick list of the various types of keyboard on the market right now.

Bet you didn’t think there were so many different types of keyboards out there.

But the good news is there’s a keyboard to suit every possible need.

“2018 Bay Area Mechanical Keyboard Meetup” by Nebulant is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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