Laptops are designed to be carried around, and you may often use yours when out and about, when you need to get something done quickly. However, if you use the laptop at home, you may mount it on a special stand to create a comfortable workstation. In fact, this is a good idea, because by putting the laptop higher, you put the screen closer to your eye level, which therefore puts less strain on your eyes, neck, shoulders, and back. In this case, though, you need an external keyboard for your laptop. Today, you can choose from a wide selection of laptop keyboard types. Some of them are even easily portable, and some can be used with other devices, such as tablets, as well.
The choice of a laptop keyboard largely depends on your specific needs and the space available. You can choose the right laptop keyboard for your device by studying the types and their features. Laptop keyboards are available from high street electronics shops, but you can also easily find them by searching online auction sites, such as eBay.
Laptop Keyboard Types
In order to find the right laptop keyboard for your device, you first need to decide what you need it for. Keyboard types vary both in size and functions available. Usually you can connect them to your device via the USB port.
Standard Laptop Keyboard
The standard layout on any keyboard is known as "QWERTY" and it is the most widely known laptop keyboard. The keys are similar to those found on desktop computer keyboards. However, the keys on laptop keyboards are smaller. A standard laptop keyboard is right for you if you use the device for basic tasks, such as surfing the Web.
The basic keys on standard laptop keyboards are alphanumeric keys, function keys, shift keys, and cursor-control keys. The alphanumeric keys are the ones you use for typing on the laptop. They are all labelled with characters, such as letters, numbers, or punctuation symbols.
The function keys are labelled F1 through F12, and each one of them performs a specific function when pressed. For instance, the F1 key is known as the "Help" key. The function keys are placed at the top row, just above the numeric keys.
The shift keys can either be used alone or in combination with other keys. These are the Esc, Alt, Shift, and Ctrl keys. If you use Windows, then the keyboard may also have the special Windows keys, "Win" and "Context".
The cursor-control keys on standard keyboards are typically placed on the bottom right or on the top. These include four directional arrow keys, Home, End, Delete, Insert, Page Up, and Page Down keys. You can use them in order to navigate on Web pages.
Mini Laptop Keyboard
A mini laptop keyboard is similar to a standard keyboard, with its main difference being its size. The mini keyboard is compact, and you can more easily take it with you on the go. Use a mini keyboard if the space on your desk is limited.
Gaming Laptop Keyboard
A gaming keyboard is perfect for your device if you intend to use your laptop for gaming. Gaming keyboards have some extra keys that are designed to enhance the gaming experience. Many of the keys are programmable, so you can set up your own controls layout for any game you like. The programming process is often simplified by adding a touchscreen to the keyboard. The keys on a special gaming keyboard are more responsive than on a standard keyboard, allowing you to play your games without lags. Quite often the keys are also backlit, so you can also play in the dark and create the right atmosphere for your game.
Flexible Laptop Keyboard
A flexible laptop keyboard is made of elastic material and you can easily fold it when it is not in use. As flexible keyboards are both waterproof and dustproof, they are suitable for use in special locations, such as in hospitals, where you can also disinfect the keyboard as necessary. A flexible keyboard can also be perfect for your children, especially if they tend to break keyboards often, as it can withstand lots of use without breaking.
Ergonomic Laptop Keyboard
Ergonomic laptop keyboards boost your work efficiency because they cause less strain, and thus they allow you to work for longer without sustaining any injuries or getting tired. On an ergonomic keyboard, sections of the keyboard are angled, so they are in accordance with the natural position of the hands. The keyboard itself is not flat either, but slightly angled towards the middle.
Projection Laptop Keyboard
A projection keyboard is portable, mainly because it does not have an actual physical form. Instead, the keyboard is projected onto your desk with a laser beam. When you tap the images of the keys, the keyboard produces real tapping sounds and sends the commands to your device. You can connect the projection keyboard to your device via Bluetooth, for instance. The best things about this keyboard are its compactness and the fact that you can also see it in the dark.
Laptop Keyboard Features
When choosing the laptop keyboard, you should also consider its features, because these determine how functional the keyboard is. Take into account the keyboard's connectivity, shape, surface material, palm rest, and pitch.
Laptop Keyboard Connectivity
The laptop keyboard connects to your device either with a wire or wirelessly. Most external laptop keyboards can be connected via the USB port. However, some types require Bluetooth or infrared. Before buying a laptop keyboard, make sure to determine what kinds of interfaces your device supports, so that you can actually connect the keyboard once it arrives.
Laptop Keyboard Shape
The best shape for keys on a laptop keyboard is concave. With such a shape, you can rest your fingers within them and easily locate the edges of the keys without looking at them. With flat keys, the chances of typos are much higher.
Laptop Keyboard Surface Material
The surface material of the keys should feel comfortable when touching your fingertips. This means that they should be neither too rough nor too smooth, to optimise ease and efficiency of use.
Laptop Keyboard Palm Rests
Both of your wrists should fit comfortably onto the palm rest located below the keyboard. If you cannot support your palms, then your shoulders have to lift the entire weight of your arms as you type, and this may lead to shoulder pain and injury. The palm rest should be soft, so that you can rest your arms there for long hours without feeling discomfort. The edge of the palm rest should not be sharp. External laptop keyboards may or may not have a palm rest area included in their design.
Laptop Keyboard Pitch
The pitch refers to horizontal spacing between the laptop key centres. The greater the pitch, the more room for typing you have, and the less cramped your hands are. The standard pitch size is between 18 and 21 mm. In case of smaller keyboards, the pitch is also reduced.
Laptop Replacement Keyboards
The above-mentioned laptop keyboards are all external models that are connected via USB or other connections. However, sometimes your original laptop keyboard may need to be replaced, for instance, when it is broken. Choosing a laptop replacement keyboard is an even tougher task, because you have to find a model that exactly fits your laptop. You have to match the replacement keyboard with the exact model number of the laptop. You can usually find the model number either on the underside of your laptop or on its screen bezel. This information may also be included in the device's manual.
Although laptops were originally designed to be used when out and about, you may also integrate your laptop into your workstation at home. In fact, if you use your laptop mainly at home, then it is better to put it on a raised area, approximately at your eye level. This means that you need a laptop keyboard for typing. When choosing the right keyboard for your device, consider the types as well as features.
A standard laptop keyboard features the traditional layout, containing alphanumeric keys, shift keys, function keys, and cursor-control keys. A mini laptop keyboard is a more compact version of the standard keyboard. If you mainly use your device for gaming, invest in a special gaming keyboard that allows you to program keys and may be backlit. For work, ergonomic keyboards with special designs that help to prevent strain and injuries are the best. When on the go, you can use small, flexible and foldable keyboards or opt for a projection keyboard.
To choose the perfect keyboard for your needs, you should also check its connectivity type, be it either wired or wireless, and make sure that your laptop supports the keyboard that you like. Also, pay attention to keyboard shape, surface material, and pitch. When you are replacing your laptop’s original keyboard, you need to pay extra attention to the model numbers in order to find a compatible keyboard.