What is a Programmable Keyboard?

Though you may not notice, keyboards don't send the letters and numbers to the computer as you see it, but rather a series of scan codes which the computer then interprets into what is displayed on the screen. This allows us to easily support other kinds of keyboard layouts without switching the actual layout, such as the Dvorak keyboard from QWERTY, or any foreign language's keyboard.

Lately, keyboards have become programmable so that their various keys can be altered into different keys or even separate sets.

What are Some Benefits to Programmable Keyboards?

Programmable keyboards can be useful for everyday life as you can program your keyboard and switch its layout to whatever suits your needs.

  • Custom Keyboard Shortcuts: You can change the function of a certain key without even having to change its keycap. In some cases, you can even add a combination of keystrokes into one key, making typing more intuitive and faster. This can be beneficial if you have to enter the same information over and over again. For instance, you can program your email address into a key so that your email address only takes one tap to enter.
  • Versatile: Keyboard manufacturers, such as Logitech, Gateron, and Corsair, often make their products so that they can be used on a variety of devices, with their programmed key functions still intact. You can even connect keyboards to your device manually via USB cable, or digitally through Bluetooth functionality.
  • Ergonomic Support: Some mechanical keyboards, especially those used by gamers, can be split in two, separating your two hands. Because your hands are no longer confined in one space to type, it can help improve your posture. Some gaming keyboards also come with attachable key clusters and touchpads.

What are Some Features I Should Look For?

Not all mechanical keyboards are made the same, so you should consider looking for a keyboard that will work for your various needs and preferences.

  • Size: Some programmable keyboards are your full, standard size, complete with a 10-key numerical pad. Others are not. Some include the 60 percent, which is your basic keyboard without the numerical pad or some other function keys. Others go all the way down to 40 percent, where only the main keys, such as the alphabet, space, enter, and shift keys remain, and even the top numerical keys are removed. These smaller keyboards rely on you to input custom key functions in order to retain usability, but they can be efficient to use and easy to carry once you've entered your desired shortcuts.
  • Wired or Wireless Keyboard: Some keyboards use a USB cable to connect with your computer; others are wireless keyboards that use wireless connection using Bluetooth. While wireless keyboards may be useful in keeping away clutter at the desk and easy portability, they also require batteries and are usually more expensive. USB keyboards also are less likely to run into glitches or connectivity problems.
  • Lighting: If you type in the dark, or you just want your keyboard a little brighter, make sure to get a backlit keyboard. These can help you see what you are typing in the dark, and they often have a white or rainbow colored glow.