- How do membrane keyboards get constructed?
- Why spend a tonne of money on a keyboard, when a cheap $10 one does the same thing?
- There are affordable options too.
Honestly, after thorough research for this article, I did not find any advantage to using a membrane keyboard. I have used it once, and it sucked. So my personal experience is one thing, and the reviews from all over the world are another. Both ways, they do suck.
So, the structure of membrane keyboards is super simple and cheap to produce. It is just a PCB board with disconnected circuits for each key. Then you have this rubber membrane that has these domes sticking out of it, and the keys simply line up with the domes and get pressed down. The domes provide a little bit of resistance at first but then eventually they collapse when you press enough pressure, and there are these contacts on the bottom of the dome that close the circuit on the PCB board allowing the thing to be connected. The reason for their popularity again is that they are cheap to make; it is just a circuit board that can be printed on, and mass-produced, and then you have like a silicone rubber mat that can be injection molded or whatever.
Also Check Out: Are Membrane Keyboards Linear or Tactile?
And this is true. We can’t deny that a cheap one does what it’s supposed to do. But there is more to it. For many of us, a keyboard is an essential tool that we use every day, whether it be at home or work; or both. So like many other everyday items, why not get something that may potentially better your experience?
The cool thing about mechanical keyboards is the variety, and the ability to pick out a keyboard that suits your needs. Variety in how a keypress feels, layout, programmability, aesthetics, materials, and so on, is very limited with the membrane keyboards we see in normal electronic stores.
Just get rid of it with a tenkeyless or smaller.
Get a split or ergonomic keyboard. If you like the color blue, then find a blue-themed keyboard or keycaps; it’s all there. And honestly, that is not even really mechanical specific but is just something that is grown and has been made available with the mechanical aspect, as the majority are based on the MX style key switch, meaning universal parts, and modularity. and so on.
Also Check Out: How Do Membrane Keyboards Work?
But the main distinctive point of mechanical keyboards is how they feel. This isn’t something you can control with membrane keyboards since they are just a sheet of collapsing domes. But with mechanical switches, you can get a range of weights. You can go with a clicky, tactile, or smooth linear switch, loud, silent, low profile, or whatever you want with everything in between.
Getting something that feels good to you, and serves your needs can potentially impact your efficiency, performance, and just straight-up enjoyment. Now that’s a pretty big word when you think about it. Doesn’t it just sound right to turn an otherwise boring daily tool into something enjoyable to use? I certainly think so, because they do feel so so good.
There is the durability of the key switches, which are usually at around 50 million key presses. Honestly, I haven’t even had a membrane keyboard die on me, and it is more likely you will do something else to break the keyboard first.
But in general, mechanical keyboards are heavier, tougher, and more nicely built.
But the deeper you go, the more expensive it gets, and the more it starts to not make sense to the outside world. But this is when it starts to get more fun. And this is what is usually shown to the outside – all these mad decked-out boards; showing the expensive end. But it’s just like other hobbies, so why not? And that is one of the underlying misconceptions about mechanical keyboards. Not all mechanical keyboards need to rip your wallet apart, and this is one aspect I’m quite passionate about.
Objectively mechanical keyboards cost a lot of money, especially for those who live in certain areas of the world. But many keyboards are coming out of China that can be affordable; at say $30 and
upwards. While the quality and tolerances won’t be as good, and sometimes not worth it, so do your research, these will still deliver the mechanical experience – and that is the important part.
And it is all about options. Options to get what you want. You could go for a cheap one, or indulge yourself and find yourself digging a deep continuous hole in that is the hobby of mechanical keyboards. The bottom line is everything is better than a membrane keyboard.