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Guide for Gaming and Office Keyboards
The right keyboard won't just take care of e-mails and word processing - keyboards can do a lot more than that. Keyboards nowadays are geared towards an array of requirements and offer various capabilities. In order to find out whether your needs are better met by a rubber dome keyboard or by mechanical switches, if LED lighting or even an ergonomic keyboard might better fit your needs - read our buyer's guide to find out.
Bluetooth, Wireless or a USB Keyboard?
The Bluetooth keyboard
Sets up a wireless link between the PC, smartphone or tablet and transfers your inputs. What really sets Bluetooth keyboards apart, however, is the fact that they can be linked up to several devices at once and switching between devices is only ever a single button-press away, which is a clear advantage in terms of comfort and convenience. If the computer or laptop in question does not have inbuilt Bluetooth functionality then an external receiver can also be connected, and frequently this is something that comes bundled together with the product and which also offers USB connectivity to the device in question.
Wireless keyboards work over a 2.4 Ghz radio frequency and share this part of the spectrum with other home wireless devices such as your router. Just as in the case of standard Wi-Fi, no direct line-of-sight with your device is necessary as the signals generally penetrate obstacles in the home with little loss in signal strength. When discussing wireless keyboards it is helpful to note that we generally include other wireless devices, such as the Bluetooth keyboards mentioned above, under this heading.
Both Bluetooth and Wireless keyboards are powered by either an internal rechargeable battery or traditional batteries of the replaceable kind, so remember to take into account that your devices need regular charging as well. Bluetooth keyboards are also notably power efficient and a wireless keyboard can last several months between charges.
USB- / PS/2 Keyboards
Can simply be plugged into the respected connector on your device. Some devices may not include a PS/2 connector - but luckily a couple of manufacturers deliver their keyboards with several input options. Furthermore an array of adapters and widgets are available to easily connect ports like USB and PS2 with a minimum of fuss. With that in mind it's safe to say that the connector type generally plays a less important role in your purchasing decision than it once did.
Further Keyboard Features:
- Some keyboards are foldable, some offer removable keypads, and some can even be rolled up entirely - these flexible and portable keyboards are perfect for use while travelling.
- Keyboards for specific environments: Computer keyboards can be made from metals like aluminium, and some keyboards are even water resistant or designed for particularly harsh environments.
- Backlit keyboards allow you to recognise the keys on your keyboard even under low light conditions, something especially desirable among users who spend long evenings in front of a computer.
- Multimedia buttons offer the user direct access to specific settings, such as changing volume or opening a web browser. Physical buttons for media players are enjoying a surge in popularity right now.
Keyboard MaintenanceThere are many reasons to clean your keyboard regularly:
But first and foremost is the removal of viruses and bacteria from the surfaces of your keyboard. This could be especially important if several people regularly use your PC's keyboard. A clean keyboard is especially important when flu season strikes, and a general household cleaner and soft cloth are all you need to keep it that way. Secondly, in order to ensure your keyboard functions properly in the long term it is advisable to remove any dust, hairs or crumbs that find their way into the device.
In the case of liquid being spilt on the keyboard make sure you quickly turn over the keyboard and allow it to dry thoroughly in sunlight. If sugary liquids should be spilt on your keyboard, however, damage may be unavoidable. But if this does happen your bathtub may yet save the day: Soaking the keyboard in water will dissolve the sugar and remove sticky substances. After the keyboard has been soaked the keyboard should again be turned over and allowed to dry for several hours. The most important thing to remember is to ensure no liquids remain in or on the keyboard when it is finally reconnected. This kind of cleaning should only be attempted as a last resort with the next step being the purchase of a brand new keyboard, primarily because after getting the keyboard wet the warranty is also invalidated. While mechanical keyboards can be taken apart and cleaned, this option is not available when it comes to the majority of laptops, notebooks, or rubber dome keyboards.
Prior to Cleaning with a Damp Cloth:
Please disconnect the keyboard from the PC, switch of wireless keyboards, and remove the battery.
Further Keyboard Cleaning Tips:
- Wash with Care! Good PC keyboards have laser-engraved lettering - household cleaner may wash away the lettering along with the dirt. Make sure you avoid using any harsh or abrasive cleaning agents.
- Using a screwdriver or specialised keycap puller will in most cases allow you to remove the keycaps without any difficulty. Rubber dome keys are frequently not, or only with great difficulty, removable. The risk of part of the key breaking is very high. Caution: Prior to removing the keys we advise taking a photo of the keyboard to ensure that all buttons are put back in the rightful positions.
- Learn how to vacuum: Dust, hair and crumbs are all easily removed with the vacuum cleaner - but watch out: Use the vacuum cleaner on a slightly lower setting than normal and make sure to clean from the edges of the keys inwards, as opposed to holding the cleaner vertically over the keys. The higher the suction the quicker the key disappears into the vacuum cleaner!
- The more cautious clean-fiends among us can carefully turn the keyboard onto its front and gently tap on the back, even this simple method will remove a lot of dirt. Individual keys can also be removed in order to get to the awkward bits. The Post-It trick can also come in handy here: The sticky edge of a Post-It note can be be pushed through the rows of keys and moved up and down to remove small amounts of dirt and dust.
- Canned air can also be used to blow dust and hair out of your keyboard.
- Another way to clean between keys and into the corners of your keyboard is to use cotton swabs.
- The buttons and the rest of the keyboard's exterior can be cleaned with the help of a damp cloth and common household products
- The exception: Laptop keyboards. Laptops should always be switched off and the battery removed in order to prevent electric shocks. Laptop and notebook keys are frequently unsuited to being disassembled and can be damaged in the process of exchanging them. Laptop keyboards are generally swapped out in their entirety when individual buttons stop working or find themselves the worse for wear after coming into contact with a sticky spill. Under normal circumstances where only a light cleaning is necessary the laptop itself can be cleaned with a vacuum (set to a lower setting and at an angle) carefully shaken out and cleaned with a damp cloth. If liquids have been spilt on the laptop turn the laptop over immediately to minimise the amount of liquid entering the case.
Greater speed and control for an optimised gaming experience. Some computer games benefit from gaming keyboards that are optimised for speed and responsiveness. The majority of games can of course be played with a standard keyboard - but anyone who wants to gain the upper hand by being able to issue commands with even greater speed and precision will benefit from a gaming keyboard. Those who take their games seriously will also often utilise dedicated macro buttons and even profiles for various games.
- Saved game profiles are marked with coloured keycaps or even highlighted with LED lighting.
- "N-Key Rollover" and Anti-Ghosting: To prevent breaking the flow of the game it is important that a gaming keyboard performs commands in the right order: even when multiple keys are being pressed simultaneously.
- "Ghosting" describes incorrect commands that arise when activating several buttons situated next to one another.
- "5-Key-Rollover" means that five button presses can be activated simultaneously on the keyboard - and the "N" stands for the possible number of simltaneous button-presses.
- Saving Macros: Repeated sequences of button-presses can be activated with the push of a single button. An individual button can be designated with this key combination and set as a macro on the gaming keyboard. Even the time between commands being carried out can be stored. Anyone who plays a large variety of games regularly should be aware that a gaming keyboard generally allows only a limited number of profiles to be saved at any one time. The number of possible profiles depends on the model.
- CS:GO allows you to record particular loadouts to a single macro and MOBAs benefit from a combination of several skills programmed to one conveniently situated button
- MMOs and RPGs in particular may benefit from macros that allow you to swap from sword'n'board to a caster role in an instant
- Macros also assist in improving teammate communication as detailed callouts can be mapped to individual keys
- One unexpected benefit of owning a gaming keyboard is in productivity-related tasks such as photo editing or music creation where an appropriate keyboard shortcut can save significant amounts of time
Further Features of Gaming Keyboards:
- Some gaming keyboards offer a headphone output or integrated touchpad. Multiple language layouts are also available and some gamer keyboards offer additional multimedia buttons that can be individually reserved.
- Displays: Some gaming keyboards have particular features that can make gaming easier, such as displays. External keyboard displays display important information related to the game you are playing, such as your kill/death ratios, ammo reserves and character stats.
- LED Lighting: Keyboards with LED lighting are perfect for gaming under low-light conditions. Some gaming keyboards can even set fluctuating light patterns and compartmentalise the keyboard into different sections. Not all keyboards however allow you to deactivate the lighting completely, and that may be worth remembering when purchasing a keyboard like this.
Swappable Keycaps & Cherry MX Switches for Gaming Keyboards:
Cherry is the single most famous supplier of keyboard switches worldwide, chief among them the MX series, with a long and storied history stretching back to 1950's America. Cherry is in fact the inventor of all contemporary switches and continues to innovate and expand their catalogue of switches constantly.
Your choice of switch decides the travel distance of the key and whether a button press gives you tactile or acoustic feedback. Some switches work relatively silently and give no additional feedback when the actuation or switching point has been reached. Gaming keyboards are, as a rule, equipped with a single specific brand or type of switch - so before purchasing make sure you are familiar with the different kinds of switches and which suit your personal preferences.
|Brown||Low actuation pressure and gives a gentle tactile bump when bottoming out. The switching points are set tightly together so that multiple clicks can be registered sequentially with a minimum of movement.|
|Blue||Cherry MX Blue Switches have a very precise activation point and give both tactile and acoustic feedback.|
|Black||Black Cherry Switches are particularly suited to first person shooters - the high activation pressure of the switches ensure a high degree of precision.|
|Red||Cherry MX Red Switches have an low activation force and a barely detectable clicking point. This makes the switches suited for quick and repeated button presses.|
|Clear||Cherry MX Clear Switches take after the Brown switches, Clears require an additional 10 grams of force to activate. When pressing this switch a notable degree of resistance needs to be overcome.|
An Ergonomic Keyboard for Effective Office- and Writing Work
Long-term keyboard use places stress on the shoulders, forearms and hands. We put a lot of care into choosing an ergonomic desk and chair, and the same should hold true when choosing an ergonomic keyboard. Poor posture whilst using your PC can lead to conditions such as RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). Also known as "mouse arm" this illness can become a chronic condition and should be taken seriously. Ergonomic keyboards can offer a solution by supporting correct posture and thereby taking care of the rest of the body. It is important to sit in a position where your hands are not bent or at an angle. For this reason ergonomic keyboards are designed to be very flat in profile, curving out to the sides and slightly convex. This shape prevents twisting and lifting of the hands.
Wrist Supports Encourage and Support an Ergonomic Typing Posture
An ergonomic keyboard permits the hands to sit in a natural position due to the way in which the keyboard is divided into two parts. There should also be adequate space in front of the keyboard to allow the wrists and the heels of your hands to rest. A removable wrist rest or thumb support is commonly built-in to such keyboards. Where this is not the case aids like wrist supports can be added separately. If a non-ergonomic keyboard is being used then these can make a big difference. Ergonomic writing aids come in various sizes and materials, ranging from leather to gel.