These days, most people either type on their laptop or on a small, modern Bluetooth keyboard. Not me. At this very moment, I am typing on a traditional mechanical keyboard with round typewriter keys (albeit with backlit keys and connected by bluetooth) and I couldn’t be happier.
Why are Mechanical Keyboards Making a Comeback?
Believe it or not, retro-style mechanical keyboards are making a comeback over contemporary flat top keyboards. There are a number of reasons for this. One is feedback they experience when the larger keys are pressed, generally making typing easier. Their raised keys also feel more natural for many people, allowing them to type faster and increase their productivity.
Perhaps the broader reason, however, is simply that they have a better design. Because of their larger size, it’s easier to incorporate an ergonomic design into the keyboard. Not only are ergonomic mechanical keyboards more comfortable to use, they also reduce strain on your wrists, and can even help combat carpal tunnel.
How Do Mechanical Keyboards Differ from the Current Modern Ones?
All keyboards function more or less the same. The biggest difference is in how the information is transmitted to the keyboard.
Modern keyboards transmit the information you type electronically. On a dome switch keyboard each key has a soft silicone dome with a piece of graphite at its bottom. When a key presses down on the dome, the graphite situated below is pushed down to complete the circuit. The key needs to be depressed all the way down to complete the circuit.
By contrast, mechanical keyboards use springs, which enables the keys to bounce back after you hit them. Some mechanical keys require more force, some less, some do not have to depressed all the way to activate the switch.
All of this provides better tactile feedback for the typist.
On some mechanical keyboards the clacking sound is pronounced, on others it is barely audible.
Lindon Mechanical Keyboard
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Mechanical Keyboard?
I’ve already touched on the advantages of mechanical keyboards, but it’s often helpful to analyze information when presented in an abbreviated form.
Mechanical keyboards provide:
- Better tactile feedback
- More ergonomic and comfortable
- Allow for faster typing and fewer mistakes
However, old-school keyboards do present a few disadvantages as well. In general, mechanical keyboards are:
- Bulkier and take up more space
- Can be significantly louder than modern keyboards
For most people, the biggest issue with traditional keyboards is the clacking sound. A single keyboard is tolerable, but the volume of two dozen keyboards clicking in an office can be quite loud.
Best Retro Mechanical Keyboards
If you’re looking to step back into the 1990s, let’s look at some recommendations. I’m a writer, so take it from me: a good keyboard is always worth the investment.
This isn’t your grandmother’s keyboard! What I like about the Azio Retro Mechanical Keyboard is that it combines retro functionality with modern aesthetics. The keyboard is a little pricey, but it has several notable features.
Each of the keys are chrome-plated, offering a more stylish and durable design. The layout of the keys themselves harkens back to the days of the typewriter, featuring stylish spring-based keys that provide great ergonomic support.
As far as convenience goes, the keyboard can be tilted to meet your preferences, and it is USB powered for long-lasting performance and easy connection to any computer. It is compatible with all Windows systems from XP on up, and is backed by a two-year warranty.
Backlit keyboards are nothing new in the world of computer gaming, but few gaming computers can match the sleek, sexy stylings of the E-Element Z-88.
Featuring a programmable 10-color RGB backlight, the Z-88 makes it easy to see your keys whether your lights are on or off. A lot of gamers prefer a dark room, as it highlights the actions on the screen better. The backlit keys make it easier to see what you’re doing without compromising the ambiance.
Like the Azio MK Retro, this keyboard is also inspired by a typewriter, although it puts a different spin on the inspiration. It offers all the modern functions and abilities of a modern keyboard, and connects to your computer via USB. The keyboard is waterproof and has a metal base, and it is backed by a one-year warranty.
Like the E-Element Z-88, the Redragon K556-RK is a backlit gaming keyboard inspired by classical typewriter keys. It is constructed from metal and finished with long-lasting chrome, offering both excellent durability and function.
While superficially similar to the Z-88, there are some key differences between the models beyond the way they look. Redragon features 18 different color modes, giving you awesome control over how your backlights appear. The keyboard also comes with spare replacement switches in case they give out.
The keyboard is rated for 50 million keystrokes, ensuring years of high-quality performance. Thanks to its metal construction, this keyboard is waterproof, so an accidental coffee spill won’t spell doom for your keyboard.
Rounding out our list of typewriter-themed keyboards is this retro-style model. Unlike the other keyboards, this is not a full-size model, and lacks the numpad and other buttons of a standard keyboard.
On the other end, the keyboard is a less expensive alternative to the other keyboards, and professionals will enjoy not having to worry about distracting backlights. The keyboard is made with an aluminum base for solid durability.
One of the best features of this keyboard is its anti-ghosting technology, allowing you to press multiple games with ease. Whether you’re a hardcore gamer or a writer like me, this keyboard is ready to fill any niche.