Types of Keyboards

Lawrence Bonk Profile image

Written By:

Updated August 29, 2022

If you are new to the world of external typing accessories, you may want to learn about the various types of keyboards. Many of the best keyboards, after all, ship in a wide array of designs to suit different users. So what are the most common keyboard types, and which is best for you? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Keyboards have come a long way in the past decade or so, as there are now many different types.
  • The basic USB keyboard is a standard full-size wired model, which allows for 105 keys and plugs into a USB port.
  • Other types include wireless keyboards, mechanical designs, flexible keyboards, virtual keyboards, and more.

Different Kinds of Keyboards

Before you can learn how to solder a keyboard or conduct related maintenance tasks, you need to learn about the various types out there. These types vary in pretty significant ways, so learning how many keys on a keyboard will differ depending on the type. Some kinds assist with typing if you are learning the definition of a keyboard. There are also types of keyboards for gaming if you are learning about the loudest keyboard switches.

Insider Tip

No matter which keyboard type you end up going with, make sure to clean and maintain the device according to instructions.

Here are the various keyboard types out there, so you can learn how to fix a keyboard and which type is best for your setup.

Full-Size AKA QWERTY Keyboard

This is the standard keyboard type that you have likely been using most of your life, as this is the kind that ships with new computers and the like. Sometimes called full-size keyboards, 100 percent keyboards, QWERTY keyboards, or several other names, these gadgets allow for the full spectrum of typing.

They have four different areas separated by spaces with a total of 105 keys and are available wired, wireless, and with a vast array of differing internal mechanisms (mechanical switches and the like.)

Reasons to Buy

  • 105 keys mean a place for everything that you would normally use throughout the day.
  • This is a tried-and-true keyboard type that requires little to no learning curve.
  • Full keyboards are relatively inexpensive, as they have been the de facto standard for decades.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • 105 keys mean you may struggle to find a place to put this type of keyboard, particularly apartment dwellers.
  • This is not the most comfortable design for some people, or else other keyboard types would not exist.
  • Pretty standard design with no additional features or belles and whistles.

Tips for Buying QWERTY Keyboards

  • Make sure there are plenty of shortcut keys for controlling media and the like.
  • There are wireless and mechanical versions of full-size keyboards if that is your bag.
  • Try before you buy, if possible, to gauge comfort and noise during use.

Wireless Keyboards

Through the magic of technology, modern keyboards are no longer tethered to computers with wires and cables. Wireless keyboards use Bluetooth or related types of technology to connect to your device. These keyboards ship in a wide variety of sizes and types, with the wireless receiver being the shared feature.

In recent years, wireless keyboards have gone from being a niche offering to make up a large segment of the industry. In other words, people hate wires (and with good reason, as they are annoying.)

Reasons to Buy

  • No wires, baby! Experience sweet, sweet freedom, and declutter your workspace by eliminating the maligned keyboard cable.
  • This technology is advancing, so battery life and wireless distances are always improving.
  • Wireless keyboards are ubiquitous by now, so prices are on the downswing.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Wireless receivers introduce lag, though this lag is extremely subtle. Still, competitive gamers may require a wired keyboard.
  • Battery life is improving, but you will have to provide replacement batteries or plug the keyboard into a charger every now and then.
  • There could be some signal interference if you use multiple Bluetooth wireless devices at the same time.

Tips for Buying Wireless Keyboards

  • Make sure the type of wireless receiver (Bluetooth, WiFi, and others) integrates nicely into your setup.
  • Don’t cheap out here. Go for a keyboard with a decent battery and with an extended wireless range.
  • Wireless keyboards are available in all sizes, so shop accordingly.

Mechanical Keyboards

Those that miss the old-school feel of typing, complete with consistent keyboard chatter, should look into a mechanical keyboard. These retro-themed designs allow for increased immersion and a better overall tactile feel, as each key lays atop a physical, mechanical button or switch.

This is a purposeful design choice that appeals to many gamers looking for a competitive edge. With that said, mechanical keyboards are often found with analog wires, but you can purchase this type with Bluetooth connectivity if you look hard enough.

Reasons to Buy

  • If you are looking for precise control, mechanical keyboards are your best bet.
  • The tactile feel of a mechanical keyboard can reduce the number of mistakes while typing once you get the hang of it.
  • These keyboards are known to be durable and long-lasting due to a design that relies on physical buttons.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • If you prioritize quiet, look away, my friend, look away. Mechanical keyboards are loud as all get out, though this depends on the switch type.
  • They tend to be on the expensive side, especially compared to standard full-size keyboards.
  • They tend to be heavier than other types with taller keys, which can be a challenge to keep clean.

Tips for Buying a Mechanical Keyboard

  • There are so many switch types by different manufacturers, each with its own pros and cons. Conduct thorough research.
  • If you can, try before you buy to suss out the noise level and the comfort level during use.
  • If you are getting one for gaming, go for a wired model over a wireless version.

Ergonomic Keyboard

These keyboards were developed as a response to some consumers getting hand injuries or experiencing discomfort after using a standard keyboard for years on end. In other words, ergonomic keyboards are built primarily for comfort.

To that end, there are an array of ergonomic designs to suit the needs of different consumers, such as angled keyboards that help position the hand and wrist, contoured keyboards that give the wrist a comfortable place to rest, and split keyboards that give users the freedom to place the two halves wherever they want.

Reasons to Buy

  • If you work on a computer all day, you should think about this keyboard type to reduce the chances of injury or discomfort.
  • The wide variety of styles ensures you get a keyboard that matches the shape and contours of your arms and hands.
  • Modern ergonomic keyboards are available in both wired and wireless versions to suit different folks.

Warning

Take a break every 20 to 25 minutes when typing to reduce the chances of discomfort.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Prices are high here, depending on the design. You’ll spend a lot more on ergonomic keyboards than standard keyboards.
  • There is going to be a learning curve here, so expect some slow typing for a while.
  • The funky shapes of ergonomic keyboards may not fit your aesthetic or office setup.

Tips for Buying an Ergonomic Keyboard

  • Of all of the types, you really have to try them before you buy here to make sure you are comfortable.
  • Take a close look at the layout to ensure it has all of the keys you need in a position you can deal with.
  • Ergonomic keyboards can get expensive, so look for a sale before making the plunge.

Flexible Keyboards

Have a cramped workspace or looking to travel with a keyboard that places a priority on portability? Go for a flexible keyboard, as these models are made from silicon or a similar type of soft polymer material. This allows them to bend easily, thus the name. They are also water-resistant, adding to the overall durability.

Some flexible devices can roll up or fold up completely to really limit the space they take up. As a matter of fact, many fit in nearly any bag, and some even fit in pants pockets (when folded or rolled.)

Reasons to Buy

  • If durability is a concern, the water-resistance ratings on flexible keyboards are off the charts. They are built to last.
  • You won’t have to find a dedicated place to store these keyboards, thanks to the emphasis on portability and flexibility.
  • The vast majority of flexible keyboards are wireless, adding to the portability factor.

STAT: Generations of typists have come to know the QWERTY keyboard, and most students learn to type with this kind of keyboard layout. (source)

Reasons Not to Buy

  • This is a new technology with some bugs to work out, so you may want to wait for a generation or two.
  • The tactile feel here is significantly reduced, so you will type much slower, with more mistakes, until you get used to it.
  • You really need a solid and flat surface to roll out the keyboard and use it.

Tips for Buying a Flexible Keyboard

  • Wait for a sale, as these keyboards are great to have for travel or a backup but may not be the best primary keyboard.
  • Look for a model with an emphasis placed on ergonomics to ensure comfortable use.
  • Make sure the keyboard can integrate with your computer and device before purchasing.

Keyboard Type FAQs

What is a computer keyboard?

A computer keyboard allows you to type, and they are available in many forms, including gaming keyboards, projection keyboards, multimedia keyboards, handheld keyboards, regular keyboards, and more.

How do I choose a computer keyboard?

There are so many keyboard types out there, from membrane keyboards to virtual keyboards, that it can be tough to choose. Go with your gut. If you use an iPad, choose a virtual keyboard. If you are a gamer, choose a gaming keyboard. Stick to your laptop keyboard, even if normal keyboards are your thing.

How do I know if I need a new keyboard?

Well, with virtual keyboards, you will never need a new one, but with other types, including membrane keyboards and other physical keyboard types, look for damage and slowdown during use. Otherwise, if you notice an increase in carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, switch up from a traditional keyboard.
Lawrence Bonk Profile image