I have a confession to make. I am obsessed with keyboards.
You know the first thing I look at when I look at a new laptop? How does the keyboard feel to type on? Mechanical, membrane, chiclet, a brand new concept – I want to try. Hell, I even purchased a typewriter just because I wanted to experience how it feels to type on.
So, when this entire COVID situation started, I set out to find the best possible keyboard for my home office. Primarily because like most of you I don’t have a separate desktop and sitting all day slouched on a laptop just didn’t feel right. Now, I live in India, because of which a lot of keyboards are just not available here. Given these constraints, I got to work and here are my recommendations for the best keyboards you can buy (At least those available in the Indian market)
In this article, I’ll take you through the most important parameters for me, and my suggestions for picking a good keyboard for your home office.
Things to Consider
When I refer to feel, I am talking about how it feels to type on. There are three major kinds of keyboards you can purchase – Mechanical, Membrane and chiclet-style.
The first parameter you’ll have to consider is feel. Which do you prefer?
Depends on the use case, my suggestion is this:
Greater 5,000 words per day typed – Mechanical – Clickity clackity keyboards
Between 2500 to 5000 words per day – Chiclet – Found in most laptops
Less than 2500 words per day – Membrane – Soft, affordable keyboards
These aren’t scientific numbers, these are just numbers which I have found to be the right amount without causing strain on your fingers.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think mechanical keyboards are best for everyone. Most research shows that people end up typing faster on membrane keyboards but, mechanical keyboards put to least amount of strain on your fingers which allow you to type longer and prevent RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury)
One of the most important parameter to consider for long term keyboard usage.
- Angle Keyboard must have a good angle to minimise load on your wrists.
- Wrist position If you get a split keyboard – although in the beginning, it may seem a bit much, long term this is your best option for elbows and shoulder.
- Height – The keyboard you pick should not be too high.
Now, here’s the problem. For whatever reason, good ergonomic keyboards in India are hard to find. The ones on Amazon and Flipkart constantly go out of stock and take forever to deliver.
RSI stands for repetitive strain injury.
In the simplest of words, if you are someone who types a lot, you’ll at some point feel your fingers getting sore. This is basically RSI – the constant motion of hitting keys will at some point affect your fingers.
Now, a simple solution to help with this is to avoid chicklet and membrane style keyboards. Mechanical keyboards are your best bet for long term RSI.
I highly recommend using them if you type anything over 5000 words per day.
If you’re a coder or a writer, this is a no brainer.
Size and Weight
For size, you get small cramped keyboards or a full-size keyboard. For your home office, it’s a no brainer – look to buy a full-size keyboard.
Trust me, your elbows, fingers and wrists will thank you.
For weight, my personal preference is having a heavy keyboard so that it doesn’t move around.
This is a simple parameter to consider. If you’re sharing your work from home workspace with your partner/ sibling then do not invest in Chiclet or mechanical keyboard.
Membrane keyboards tend to be very quiet and will keep the sound to a minimum.
If you’re planning on using your keyboard at night, a little bit of backlighting will help a lot.
The problem is most keyboards which have this feature (and are affordable) are gaming keyboards.
Well, for this I have a recommendation, learn how to touch type. There are plenty of free websites which will show you how and the best part is that investing your time in learning how to touch type will pay you huge dividends (in terms of time savings) going forward.
Here are some touching websites I recommend.
Wired or Wireless
This parameter is very difficult to answer. Here’s the thing, nothing beats the responsiveness of a good wired keyboard. Although some incredible wireless keyboards have come close, in terms of sheer responsiveness – wired keyboards take the cake.
Here are some advantages or wired keyboards:
- No need to charge/ replace any batteries
- Tend to be full-sized keyboards
- Instantly connect and are ready to use from keystroke
But wired keyboards are not without any disadvantages, here are a few:
- Wire management is a nightmare
- You lose a USB port. Please keep in mind that most laptops have one or two USB ports so you end up losing a USB port
- Difficult to find a tenkeyless option
- Moving around or typing from a distance is a no-no
Let’s look at some advantages of wireless keyboards
- Tend to be more portable
- Use multiple devices
- Take lesser space when compared to wired
- You can buy combos which work with a single connector
Here are some disadvantages to keep in mind
- Not as responsive as a wired option
- Batteries! – replacing or recharging
Combo or not?
If you’re also in the market for a mouse, do consider some incredible keyboard and mouse combos. Logitech especially has combos at all prices ranges.
This is an important thing to keep in mind. If you work On a lot of spreadsheets, look for keyboards with number pads – but also important to consider that if you don’t need a number pad, do look into some tenkeyless options, here are some of the advantages:
- More ergonomic
- Cheaper (for some very specific models)
- Less space
Common places companies cut corners (to reduce cost)
This is something you should keep in mind as you’ll see a lot of difference in costs as you start researching.
- Keycap thickness
- Plastic braces
- Bluetooth version
- Keycap lettering
- Angle brackets (those things which keep breaking :/)
- Subpar mechanical switches
So, here is a list of budget keyboards in each of the categories.
I am confident you’ve seen these keyboard around in your offices. It’s a good reliable keyboard which gets the job done.
Dell KB216 Wired Multimedia USB Keyboard – https://amzn.to/3oneB8p
If you’ve been to any bank in India, I’ll guarantee you’ll find this mechanical keyboard. It’s an excellent mechanical keyboard… I just have one major problem, they don’t use Cherry switches anymore 🙁 if you purchased this before 5-6 years, consider yourself lucky.
TVS E-Gold Mechanical keyboard – https://amzn.to/37rqCTu
In terms of just sheer comfort of typing, this keyboard takes the cake. It’s so comfortable to type on that you won’t believe it costs less than Rs. 600
Logitech Wired Keyboard – https://amzn.to/36DjrIJ
Targus Bluetooth Keyboard – https://amzn.to/36z5Ku3
Unfortunately, there aren’t any good wireless mechanical keyboards in India.
Logitech K375s – This is actually the keyboard I am using to type right now and I have been very very happy using it for almost 1.5 years now 🙂
Lenovo Essential wired keyboard – this is a keyboard I enjoy because it’s closest to the ThinkPad series of laptops. It works really well and the delete key – the way it looks, absolutely love it.
Logitech G413 Keyboard
This is a keyboard I absolutely adore. In my eyes it’s the best mechanical keyboard you can buy, has all the right features and just feels premium. Of course, there are a lot of other keyboards you can buy which may give you better results in specific categories like look or feel or typing speed but the G413 in my eyes is the best overall mechanical keyboard you can buy (in India)
Logitech G213 Keyboard
Now, this keyboard looks and feels like the Logitech G213 Keyboard, but it’s actually a membrane keyboard. I love the backlighting and the fact that it has a comfortable wrist rest.
Although this keyboard is rarely in stock, I think it has everything you’ll look for in a good wireless keyboard.
Now, I am warning you that this keyboard will take time to delivery, but it’s well worth the wait. The Keychron K2
One of the most comfortable keyboards to type on.
Microsoft has made some incredible keyboards, and their sculpt line of keyboards are some of the best in the market. This is the sculpt ergonomic keyboard – looks futuristic and incredibly comfortable for your wrists to type on.
This keyboard, although not exclusively available in India, is a great option for anyone looking at a split mechanical keyboard.
This was one of the earliest ergonomic keyboards made by Microsoft and to this day is a really good option for those suffering from wrist pain and RSI
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Don’t buy a top gaming mechanical keyboard. It’s not for everyone
- Check Bluetooth version – Bluetooth 5 and 6 are low energy
- If you’re using a Mac – Make sure you have the cmd and option keys – and the keyboard supports the keyboard
Frequently Asked Question
Membrane keyboards – Typically speaking you can achieve highest speeds on membrane keyboards
Overall experience – there’s no doubt it’s mechanical keyboards
Mechanical keyboards are most comfortable keyboards to type on
Commonly available keyboards in the market fall under these categories – Mechanical, Chicklet and Membrane
For Repetitive strain injury (RSI) mechanical keyboards are the best
In my opinion these are the best brands – Logitech, Corsair, DAS, Lenovo (specifically thinkpad)