Different Types of Laptop Keyboards Explained

Different Types of Laptop Keyboards Explained
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Different Types of Laptop Keyboards Explained

The introduction of the laptop computer revolutionised the way people conducted business and handled their personal affairs. No longer were computer users chained to their office desks or dining room tables. Laptops enhance user portability, while at the same time, maintaining all of the popular desktop computer features. Nonetheless, one facet of the laptop computer took users time to make adjustments. Laptop keyboards present user challenges that, in some cases, dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes for users to type reports and complete projects. However, recent production changes have created different types of laptop keyboards that address most of the accessibility issues.

Consumers who need to replace a laptop keyboard or plan to buy a new laptop can find high-quality machines at electronics shops and office supply outlets. Yet, the best shopping venue for laptop keyboards is online at the leading auction site, eBay. Sellers on eBay offer a wide variety of laptop keyboards that match the typing skills of most consumers. First, laptop keyboard shoppers should first learn about the important functions to include on a laptop keyboard, the different key layouts, and the primary types of laptop keyboards.

Important Laptop Keyboard Functions

The different laptop keyboards possess unique features that appeal to targeted demographics, but the one common feature that consumers should consider is the presence of certain function keys. The presence of the function keys makes the laptop keyboards more user-friendly. Consumers should stay away from laptop keyboards that do not have the following functions.

Function

Description

Wireless on/off

Press FN and F1 key simultaneously

Toggles laptop wireless service

Icon appears as a vertical line emitting radio waves

Mute

Press FN and F3 keys simultaneously

Icon appears as a computer speaker covered with an X

Volume

Pressing FN and F4 keys at the same time reduces volume

Substituting F5 key for F4 key turns volume up

Icon features speaker with arrow pointing to volume direction

Touchpad toggle

Press FN and F6 key simultaneously to toggle on and off

Icon resembles a computer mouse

Brightness

Press FN and F8 keys at the same time to dim

Replace F8 key with F9 key to brighten

Important function for users who work in dimly lit or overly bright rooms.

External monitor

F10 and FN keys pressed at same time allows users to toggle between both screens

Icon looks like a monitor

Fan

F11 places computer fan in silent mode

Required function for working in libraries

Icon appears as a fan

Some manufacturers produce customised laptop keyboards that do not possess all of the functions listed above. Refer to the manufacturer user manuals, which typically can be accessed online, before deciding on which type of laptop keyboard to include with a laptop purchase.

Types of Laptop Keyboard Layouts

While there are four primary types of keyboards, each type of keyboard can have layout variances. The QWERTY keyboard layout is the most familiar type of layout to most laptop users. However, other layout innovations, some of which differ vastly from the QWERTY layout, should be considered by consumers.

QWERTY

The first six letters that run from left to right on the top keyboard alphabet row spell QWERTY. This is by far the most common keyboard layout for every type of computer system. The familiar layout came from a newspaper editor who developed the first commercial typewriter. The purpose of the layout is preventing users from pressing two commonly accessed side-by-side keys. Changes to the QWERTY keyboard included the addition of number keys and rearrangement of certain letters that improves typing speed. The Qwerty keyboard layout is so prevalent that many experienced typists can type without looking at the keys.

Small Keyboards

The introduction of smaller keyboards, such as the one manufactured for laptop computers, has changed the dynamics of keyboard layouts. Laptop keyboards have much less space for typing, which means the key layouts are much more condensed. While the QWERTY layout still dominates laptop keyboard layouts, the small keyboard sizes have prompted manufacturers to make slight adjustments to improve the ease of use. Some manufacturers omit less accessed keyboard characters and other manufacturers mimic mobile phone manufacturer keyboard displays by grouping letters onto one key. However, letter grouping slows down the typing process.

Dvorak

Inventor August Dvorak created the American Simplified Keyboard, which is the most common alternative to the QWERTY laptop keyboard. Dvorak designed the keyboard to induce faster typing by reducing finger movement on the keys. Common English letters, such as D, H, T, N, and S are placed next to the five vowels in the middle of the centre row.

Colemak

As a slight adaptation to Dvorak keyboard layout, inventor Shai Coleman released a keyboard designed to make it easier for long-time QWERTY keyboard users to transition to a style that places the most used letters at the centre of the keyboard. The slight adaptation comes from where the most used letters are placed on the Dvorak and Colemak layouts.

Types of Laptop Keyboards

Different styles of laptops require manufacturers to create different-sized keys and key spacing. Since size represents the most important differentiation between the types of laptop keyboards, consumers should first choose the type of laptop keyboard, and then decide on the key layout. Three of the following types of keyboards are created to differ by size, while the final type of keyboard offers users a unique feature.

Desktop Replacement

The desktop replacement keyboard built for laptops is the largest option for consumers. Users access full-sized, desktop-similar keyboard keys that includes a separate number pad. Anyone who has trouble typing on smaller keyboards should consider the desktop replacement, which possesses all 108 keyboard keys.

Standard

Standard laptop keyboards eliminate some of the rarely used keys, and hence, typically only include between 50 and 90 keys. Because of the reduction in the number of keys, standard laptop keyboard keys are close in size to desktop replacement keyboards. Users access numbers by combining keys, although users can deactivate this features if they do not need to type numbers. In addition, the key travel distance is less with a standard keyboard than it is for a desktop replacement keyboard.

Compact

Smaller laptops mean smaller keyboards. Therefore, manufacturers design compact keyboards to allow users to access the most common letters. This type of laptop keyboard has fewer keys, which means many of the common keys found on other types of laptop keyboards require users to access multiple keys to perform one function. Compact laptop keys typically measure 80 per cent of standard size keyboard keys. Only the most adept typists should consider compact laptop keyboards.

Foldable

Foldable laptop keyboards come in a variety of sizes, so the difference between this type of keyboards and other laptop keyboards is how the keyboard unfolds for user access. Because the keyboard unfolds, manufacturers can produce larger keys and alphanumeric images. Foldable laptop keyboards include the standard function keys, from F1 to F15. As a recent innovation, foldable laptops provide users with enhanced portability that makes it convenient to store the laptop on long-distance flights and carry to and from office meetings. Foldables are very popular on college campuses, where students move about from classroom to classroom.

Buying Laptop Keyboards on eBay

eBay has created a shopping platform that allows buyers to specify the features they want in a laptop keyboard. You accomplish specification by using eBay's powerful search engine. Type keywords into the search engine, and then vet prospective sellers on the search results page. The best strategy for finding the right laptop keyboard seller is to specify which brand of laptop keyboard you prefer. For instance, type "Sony laptop keyboard" or "Dell keyboards" to reduce the number of search results, and provide you with a list of sellers who match most of your buying criteria. The next step on eBay is to eliminate the sellers who do not meet all of your buying criteria.

You should further vet prospective sellers by reviewing each candidate's product page. The first thing you see is an enlarged photograph of the seller's laptop keyboard or laptop computer. Closely examine the photograph to find any imperfections that may hinder operation. If the photograph displays a laptop keyboard that looks as good as new, then review the seller's accepted payment methods and delivery terms. If you need the laptop keyboard tomorrow for work and the seller cannot deliver it until a week from today, then you move onto the next candidate. The last step involves reading the customer feedback that eBay compiles on seller product pages.

Conclusion

The timeless question as to what came first, the chicken or the egg, applies to laptop computers and laptop keyboards in the form of "what breaks first, the laptop or the keyboard". Because many laptop users eat and drink while they work, as well as bang hard on the keyboard keys, the answer to the second question is usually the laptop keyboard. The extent of the damage and the condition of the laptop determines if a user only replaces the keyboard or must buy an entire laptop system. In either case, consumers should become familiar with the different types of laptop keyboards.

To provide ease of use, any laptop keyboard under consideration should include the function keys that perform the most accessed keyboard functions. From there, consumers must decide on the laptop keyboard layout, as manufacturers have stepped out of the conventional QWERTY layout box to create subtle, yet important, layout differences. Consumers have four primary types of laptop keyboards available in shops and online. Desktop replacement, standard, and compact laptop keyboards differ in size, which means the smaller models do not have all 108 keys. The fourth type of laptop keyboard, called the foldable keyboard, folds out from the laptop frame to provide users with enhanced portability.

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