Aside from price and durability, there are other vital considerations you should make before purchasing a keyboard. Chief of these factors should be the type of keyboard you intend to buy. There are two major types of keyboards namely mechanical and membrane or regular keyboards.
Here’s an in-depth look at both types.
Mechanical Keyboard Vs Membrane Keyboard
A mechanical keyboard determines the keys pressed by a person using physical switches. These switches are located underneath the keyboard and are responsible for sending signals to the computer which in turn displays the typed letters or numbers. One thing that is characterised by mechanical keyboards is you don’t have to press the keys all the way down for the numbers or letters to pop up on your screen.
There are various types of switches regarding these keyboards, and each performs differently. Each switch has a base and a stem and comes in different colors ranging from black, red, blue, and brown just to mention a few. Mechanical keyboards also have exchangeable keycaps, a feature that is appreciated by people who like to DIY their keyboards.
Mechanical keyboards are still effective, and despite the characteristic “thunk” sound they produce, they are still the first option for most people across the globe. They might have been the first set of keyboards to hit the market along with some of the oldest computer brands, but mechanical keyboards have still found their way into modern technology such as laptops.
Here are other standout features and advantages of a mechanical keyboard
I. Removable and Exchangeable Keycaps
While to most people, a fashionable PC or laptop is dependent on the design a company employs on a product, others prefer to have the ability to customize their machine to match their desired outlook. Mechanical keyboards come with removable keypads which make it easy for you to give your PC a stylish look that matches its theme.
While replacing these keycaps might cost an extra buck, it is all worth it in the end if they give you the desired style.
Mechanical keyboards are durable because they rely on switches instead of a membrane to work. Membranes often wear out in time prompting the purchase of a new keyboard. Also, mechanical keyboards retain the same feedback for years on end, a feature that makes them cost effective.
Not to mention, the same feature also ensures that even when the feel changes, you do not need another introduction to using the gadget, unlike membrane keyboards.
III. Speed and Better Tactical Ability
As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to press the keys all the way down for letters or numbers to appear on the screen. This feature gives mechanical keyboards an advantage over their counterparts by making them the preferred choice for people with fast typing speeds and gamers. The latter enjoy this type of keyboard because there are instances where they are required to press more than one key at a time.
Mechanical keyboards are also easier to clean compared to membrane keyboards and have a better key rollover. However, they are heavier, more expensive, and have a higher sound volume. Nonetheless, some people do not mind the sound and even prefer this type of keyboard especially due to their sound volume when typing.
Unlike most keyboards, the keys on a membrane keyboard do not move separately. A flexible and flat surface bears symbols and outlines which make it easy to use these pressure pads. Every membrane keyboard is comprised of three layers, a top membrane, a hole/second layer/membrane, and the bottom membrane.
Once you press a key on your membrane keyboard, the conductive trace below the key is pushed through the second layer giving the pressure pads access to the bottom layer. Once the conductive trace below the top layer makes contact with its counterpart above the bottom layer, the specific key registers the number or letter on your screen.
Membrane keyboards have two designs. The first is a flat key design which is most common in microwave ovens with the same pad bearing the keys. Seeing that it gives physical feedback, this design is not commonly seen on computers. The second design, dome switch, is what most computers have and contains a dome that may be either laser stretched or printed. Graphite located under each dome complete the circuit when the keys are pressed to send signals from the keyboards to the display.
Features and Advantages of Membrane Keyboards
While some people prefer to hear the clicking noise made by a mechanical keyboard while they type, others prefer their membrane counterparts for their low sound volume. Typing fast on any keyboard might be guaranteed to produce a lot of noise, but membrane keyboards are relatively quiet.
Most gamers prefer membrane keyboards especially due to this feature because they do not risk waking up family members or roommates when heavily invested in a video game.
Most membrane keyboards are made of plastic. As such, they are great traveling companions as opposed to mechanical keyboards which make them heavy to carry around. Also, membrane keyboards do not have metal gears unlike their mechanical counterparts; a feature that comes in handy when guaranteeing their portability.
Their size is also smaller than most mechanical keyboards making typing on your lap while on the go an easy task.
A mechanical keyboard might have the same features as a membrane keyboard, but the latter will be purchased at a lower fee. The reason for this price difference besides the similar features is the materials used in making the keyboard.
Membrane keyboards are made from readily available materials and mature technology.
However, membrane keyboards are not ideally the best regarding the typing feel since they require a little more effort to type. As a result, the typing feel is not the same as that of a mechanical keyboard.
Also, they have poor key rollover: When typing using a membrane keyboard, you are required to use a little more effort as opposed to mechanical keyboards for the numbers or letters to appear on your screen. Lastly, membrane keyboards are harder to clean seeing the keycaps are not removable and their lifespan is limited compared to their mechanical counterpart.
When it comes to keyboards, it is advisable to go with the one that best suits your style. While your budget might also be an important aspect to consider, features and the advantages each type of keyboard has over the other are also worthy considerations before making a purchase.