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Computer Keyboard Buying Guide

Sep 9, 2008
A computer's keyboard is as important to the computer as any other part of the computer setup. After all, the keyboard is what you use to input your data, whether it is while you're surfing the net or writing an essay.

With that said, there a few things listed below that our product specialists recommend our customers to consider when purchasing this important part of their computer setup.

Ergonomics: It is important that you find a keyboard that is comfortable for you. This can prevent things such as Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI). You might want to consider getting a keyboard that comes with a wrist rest, or buy one along with the keyboard if one isn't included. A wrist rest will keep your wrists at a proper angle, which can greatly reduce your chances of getting RSI or CTS.

QWERTY vs. Natural: There are two basic designs when it comes to keyboards, either the QWERTY design or the "natural" design. The QWERTY design is what you are used to seeing, with the keys laid out straight across the board. The "natural" design splits the home row in two, allowing for a more ergonomic angle when typing. The "natural" keyboards are usually a bit more expensive than the traditional QWERTY keyboards, but the QWERTY keyboard is the most popular. So which ones better? It is only a matter of personal preference.

Wired/Wireless: Decide how you want the keyboard to connect to your computer. You have two options, and those are wired or wireless. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages and choosing between the two is once again a matter of personal preference. Thinking about where or how you will be using the keyboard can help you determine which one is better for you. For example, if you plan to use the keyboard with a computer that is connected to your home theater system, you may want to get a wireless keyboard so you don't have to sit next to the computer when watching movies or listening to music.

Hotkeys: Many keyboards today come with extra "hot keys" at the top. These "hot keys" can do a wide range of things from controlling the computers volume, to opening your e-mail with the touch of a button. Often times these buttons are fully programmable, which can make your computing experience easier and more efficient by having the shortcuts you personally use most at your fingertips. You should decide whether or not you want these extra controls at an early stage of the buying process. This will help you narrow down on which keyboard best suits your needs.

Extra Features: Some keyboards come with extra features such as a USB hub, which allows you to connect low-power devices to the keyboard for desktop convenience. Decide whether or not these types of features are important to you, or if they are just "extras" that will only add to your cost.

Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): A common disorder in the wrist and hand; symptoms include pain and weakness in the muscles caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist area.

Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI): A type of injury where soft tissue in the body, such as muscles, nerves, tendons, and joints become irritated or inflamed.

Definitions:

Ergonomics: The science of the human body doing work related tasks in order to reduce the risk of injury.

QWERTY Keyboard: Refers to the standard data entry keyboard. Term comes from the first six letters at the upper left of the keyboard.

Natural Keyboard: Refers to the type of keyboard that is split at the middle of the home row.

USB: Connection port on a computer that is universally compatible with many types of electronic devices.
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