The switch technology of a keyboard has a big impact on how it feels. The majority of keyboards employ one of the three notions below:
Rubber Dome Membrane
If you’re not sure what kind of keyboard you have, it’s most likely a membrane keyboard. Most of the cheap keyboards and the free keyboards that come with an All-In-One PC are membrane keyboards.
Each key on a rubber dome keyboard has a little rubber dome inside it. This rubber dome is in charge of triggering the switch and ensuring that the keycap returns to its original position. The signal is transmitted by several membrane sheets underneath the rubber domes (–> membrane keyboard). Although these two names refer to two different processes, they are frequently used interchangeably because most keyboards employ both.
Membrane keyboards are quite popular due to their low cost of production. However, there is a significant disadvantage: the keys quickly wear out. After a few years, the keys begin to clatter, become stuck more frequently, and are increasingly difficult to push. Frequently used keys, such as the space bar or the letter “e,” amplify and accelerate these effects. The user is further hampered by the uneven wear of different keys.
Scissor switches are used on Apple keyboards and most notebooks. Scissor switches, like typical membrane keyboards, employ rubber domes, but they use a separate mechanism to grip and guide the key cap. Each key has two plastic cross-arms instead of huge plastic guiding shafts.
Keyboards using a scissor mechanism have a lower profile and last far longer than standard membrane keyboards (up to 10–30 million key presses).
Mechanical switches are frequently used on more expensive keyboards. Mechanical switches come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the most common actuation mechanism is a metal spring. A metal spring mechanical switch lasts far longer than one with a rubber dome. But we’ll get into the benefits and drawbacks of mechanical switches later.
For decades, Cherry, a German firm, dominated the mechanical switch market. They’re still highly popular, but there are now a slew of other companies making their own mechanical switches.
The Comparison: Advantages and Disadvantages
Compared to rubber dome or scissor switch keyboards, mechanical keyboards have numerous advantages. However, there are a few minor drawbacks.
Advantages of a Mechanical Keyboard
Longer Life Expectancy
Mechanical keyboards have a far longer lifespan than electronic keyboards. The majority of mechanical switches are tested for 30 to 70 million key presses, with some exceeding 100 million. The average membrane keyboard has a life expectancy of only about 5 million key strokes.
There will be no wear and tear.
Mechanical switches are not only more durable, but they also rarely fail. Typing on a mechanical keyboard feels almost as good as it did the first time you used it. There are no clattering keys or jammed keys here.
Typing Experience/Feedback Improved
A mechanical switch gives you a lot more flexibility than a basic rubber dome. It’s hardly strange, then, that there are many different switch kinds, each with its own set of features.
Some switches feature an actuation point that may be detected, and some provide extra aural feedback. There are switches designed for for gaming and switches designed specifically for typing.
High Robustness / Stability
Membrane and scissor keyboards are much lighter than mechanical keyboards. As a result, they are more stable and will not shift as easily.
Disadvantages of Mechanical Keyboards
Mechanical keyboards are typically louder than other types of keyboards. If this is a concern for you, you can choose for a silent mechanical keyboard or use O-Rings to reduce the sound level of your keyboard.
The cost is quite high.
Most membrane keyboards are more expensive than mechanical keyboards. However, you should think of it as an investment; if you take care of your keyboard, you won’t need to replace it for a long time.
A lot of weight
More weight improves stability, but it makes transporting the keyboard a little more difficult. Furthermore, if you wish to use the keyboard on your lap, the weight can be bothersome.