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How to Choose a Basic Keyboard

written by: Winston Smith•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 3/11/2011

To choose a basic keyboard, you need to understand the typical features, hardware and design of keyboards. This article covers those features along with price ranges.

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    Introduction

    Laptop Keyboard (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons) Choosing the right keyboard for your daily needs is an important task. Typing is still the fastest way to enter information into a computer, create e-mails, write papers, blog and do other activities. If you are on a budget and want to buy a basic keyboard, use this article as your guide. Even if you plan to buy your keyboard online, you may want to try a few keyboards at computer stores to see which ones meet your needs.

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    Basic Keyboard Features

    All kinds of basic keyboards have a number of features and hardware characteristics. Before you make a purchase or select a new keyboard, consider these key features:

    • Connectors: Many keyboards have USB cables and/or PS/2 connectors. USB connectors tend to work with most computers.
    • Number of Keys: The standard American keyboard has 101 keys but many new keyboards are "Windows keyboards" with 104 keys. Some of these keys are specialized for the Microsoft Windows operating system.
    • Numeric keypad: On the right hand side of full size keyboards, you can generally find a numeric keypad. This feature is especially useful if you plan to work with spreadsheet software, do data entry and related functions.

    Other considerations for a basic keyboard include the device's physical size. If the keyboard is going to packed up and moved around frequently, it will be helpful to consider the keyboard's weight and dimensions. Some basic keyboards are designed to be used with desktop computers and may be difficult to transport easily and without damage. Additionally, keyboard size matters if you plan to use the keyboard on planes, trains and other space limited environments. Basic keyboards can cost $10-$50 depending on the features and size.

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    When To Switch To An Advanced Keyboard

    There are many circumstances where a basic keyboard may not be enough for your typing needs. For example, if you have a disability that makes typing difficult, you will likely need to consider an ergonomic keyboard or voice recognition software. Frequent travelers may wish to invest in a foldable keyboard that can be quickly packed up at a moment's notice. Review the features described in this section to find out whether an advanced keyboard would better serve your needs.

    • Ergonomic design: this design feature limits the stress of typing on your body, a helpful feature if you suffer from strain or have difficulty typing for long periods.
    • Lighting: Some advanced keyboards have built-in lighting so they can be used in the dark or low-light conditions.
    • Media keys: In addition to specialized keys for Windows, there are keyboards with volume controls, DVD controls and other media functions. If you often watch movies or listen to music on your computer, you may find these functions particularly helpful.

    The advanced features and design of some keyboards often means higher prices. Media keyboards can cost $100 or more depending on what types of features you want.

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    Resources