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  • Nick Thomas

Keyboards! Domes, switches and chics!

I was thinking of writing a long wordy article about keyboards and how they're not all the same and what features are great for wha- yadda, yadda, yadda. But really, it'd put most of you half to sleep and that's not why we're here. Short and sweet - threre's three main types of keyboards split in to two categories: Dome and membrane - standard keyboards and chiclet keys (laptops keyboards mainly). Mechanical switches - there's 4 main switch types Dome and membrane are what most of you are use to (refer to the picture). there's two contacts seperated by a rubberized dome that the key presses down and springs back - fairly simple. Chiclet keys are very similar, though they use much finer rubber and a scissor style lever for stability through key return - they're faily easy to break as most of you well know (but they're not too difficult to fix either if you're careful). Mechanical keys are what we *use* to have way back when Adam was a boy. They're commonly mistaken as being "The clicky keys", and while this is true, it's not the whole truth. Mechanical keys come (these days) with a wide range of switches for various preferences and can be seperated into 4 seperate styles: linear, tactile, silent and clicky. The switch works by pressing a plastic, spring-loaded core which allows 2 metal contacts to touch, essentially. Linear is straight up and down, no tactile bump, no click (but you will hear it bottom out on the keyboard surface). Tactile has a (very) slight bump to push past when pressing down to let you know when you've reached key activation. Silent - same as linear, but has a dampened bottom out to reduce noise Clicky - you know it means =P When you buy a mechanical keyboard, you'll see specified which color of switch they board has - red, green, black, blue, brown, grey, etc - they all refer to what characteristics they have. For instance, the Cherry MX Blue switches are click AND tactile, while the Cherry MX Brown switches are just tactile.

Personally I use a Corsair K70 Lux with brown switches (tactile) and it's an absolute dream to type on and several of my clients who type extensive amounts also have them (after I've lent them mine for a test drive - they're expensive, waying in at $150ish) There's been several new innovations recently with Opto-mechanical keys - they work on much the same principle, but as opposed to allowing two metal contacts to touch, they allow a laser to pass through, activating the key. Yes, that was the short version...

Mechanical keyboard w/ blue switches (clicky & tactile)



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