A keyboard is one of the input devices that make up a computer. There are now touch screens which effectively eliminate the physical keyboard but regardless, the physical keyboard is still common. Especially for desktop computers, the physical keyboard is still popular. The keyboard is literally indispensable because it is central to input operations. In this article we shall be discussing the different types of computer keyboards.
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What is a Keyboard?
A keyboard is a computer input device which allows a user to enter letters, numbers, and other characters into a computer. A keyboard is used to input text into a computer.
This is a keyboard type that most of you are familiar with. If you have eve used a tablet, a smartphone or any other type of mobile smart device you would have at some point used a virtual keyboard. It is that keyboard that appears on-screen and you can actually key in by pressing keys on the screen. Its widespread use has been due to the increased use of touch screen technology. Virtual keyboards are also being incorporated for desktops in order to provide an option for those who do not like or cannot use physical keyboards.
The design of such keyboards is borne out of various human body-related aspects. For instance, repetitive strain injury (e.g. wrists) and back pains are some of those common aspects. Ergonomic keyboards are designed in such a way that takes those things into consideration. The idea will be to minimalize or eliminate those things altogether. A popular design shape adopted for ergonomic keyboards is the V shape. Some have designs that allow the keyboard to either be held by hand or to be split into 2 separate parts. The overall objective will be to ensure that human body is not strained in any way when using the keyboard.
The unique feature of these keyboards is how the keys are arranged on the keyboard. They are slightly raised than would be for other types of keyboards. The keys are small and have rounded corners which are unlike what keyboards are normally like.
Normally keyboards have keys that you can individually press. For membrane keyboards that is not the case. Rather, the characters you normally see on other keyboards are printed a special type of surface called a membrane. Key presses are registered into the computer by virtue of the physical pressure applied by a finger. When you press, say, Enter, the applied pressure triggers an electrical signal that feeds into the circuitry in the membrane. They came into being around 40 years ago. They are cheap but they have some functional limitations e.g. not registering key presses at times.
The emergence of the gaming keyboard is largely due to the surge in gaming. Gaming is now a huge global industry worth billions of dollars. Gaming is a field that requires optimized gaming environments for the best performance. Gaming keyboards have certain tweaks that are specialized for just gaming. Some of those tweaks are additional keyboard keys such as multimedia keys. They are usually compact in size. You could say that some ergonomic aspects were made in designing gaming keyboards.
These are usually meant for mobile devices or hand-held devices that have either or both of two conditions. One, they could be having limited space for the inclusion of typing space. Two, they might not be having in-built keyboards. To circumvent these two shortcomings, that is where thumb keyboards (also known as thumb-sized keyboards) come in. These types of keyboards are designed to have very few keys due to the small footprint. Essentially they are meant to have keys pressed by thumbs.
If you put together the design of the laptop keyboard (which we will discuss later) and the basic type of keyboard you get the flexible keyboard. The fact that flexible keyboard are usually made from silicone makes them dust and water resistant. They have all the functions that you will find in either a basic desktop keyboard or a laptop keyboard. They are designed in such a way that makes them physically flexible. This means that they can be rolled up which makes them portable. They can be easily connected to PCs because they have a USB cable. They are meant to function optimally when firmly placed on a flat surface.
The term chorded stems from how their design resembles how pianos or musical keyboards function. Typically, a chorded keyboard has very few keys which mean that keying certain inputs requires a combination of keys. They are very small in size; small enough to be operated by just one hand. Their compactness also makes them very portable. However, their use is not widespread due to the fact that their functional framework is unnatural. Thus not many people really use them.
These types of keyboards are common and widely used – since most people own laptops. Their design entails narrow key distances and a less comprehensive keyset. It is very possible to not find certain key functions here that you would find in other types of keyboards. Fortunately, one can connect a peripheral keyboard that has a USB cable. For instance, the flexible type of keyboard can actually be connected to a laptop.
An Additional Note On Keyboard Categorizations
It is important for you to know that there is also categorization based on connectivity methods or certain setup unqiuenesses. For example, the QWERTY arrangement of keys on a keyboard constitutes a categorization i.e. QWERTY keyboard. As for connectivity, you can have categorizations such as wireless keyboard, Bluetooth keyboard or USB keyboard. In terms of setup, you can have keyboards called backlit keyboards. These are keyboards whose keys have lights that illuminate them or their edges in the dark.
You will also notice that there are crosses or overlaps in terms of the different types of keyboards. For instance, a flexible keyboard can also be classified as a USB keyboard. A laptop keyboard can possibly be a backlit keyboard too. In the same vein, some keyboards, such as gaming keyboards, can actually be so specialized and individually unique.