Most professionals spend about 2000 hours a year working on a computer. When technology surpasses it’s capabilities, you upgrade your motherboard, your RAM, but you may not consider the effect your input devices can contribute to your efficiency. Cheap, membrane-based keyboards may not cost much, but they could be costing you your job. Here are five professions that could benefit from the versatility of a mechanical keyboard:
Programmers and techies know from experience that any IT-related task usually takes longer than intended. For that reason, many workers map key commands to automate processes. However, key-mapping does not always travel forward into the Bios or programs like Remote Desktop, SSH, or RDP. This can leave a programmer toiling in more layers of software than dream states in Inception.
Unlike a standard membrane-based keyboard on which keys are fixed, mechanical keyboards allow IT workers to modify key caps at a hardware level rather than having to rely on an OS.
Composers may discover that most membrane-based keyboards are limited in the number of keys that can be registered at one time. Key rollover, as it is known, is usually limited to just three keys (3-KRO), whereas most mechanical keyboards are N-KRO, or infinite in the number of keys that can be registered simultaneously. A mechanical keyboard’s ability to create such complex chords mean the difference between creating music for a fourth grader’s recital, or the New York Philharmonic.
Pilots (and gamers!)
Flight Simulator software and some high-dexterity games such as Starcraft 2 and Civilization can benefit not only from infinite key rollover, but also from the varying degrees of tactile and audible feedback mechanical keyboards provide. Although Linear switches such as Cherry MX Reds or Blacks are smooth and offer no real feedback, tactile switches like Cherry MX Blues, Browns, or Greens offer a “bump” when depressed to the actuation point. Gamers tend to prefer a tactile switch because it allows the controller to know if a key has been registered, minimizing mistakes.
Over the years there have been several debates about the efficiency of the QWERTY keyboard layout. Dvorak layouts provide 70% of English words on the home row as opposed to only 30% with the Qwerty layout. Changing your layout can not only increase WPM, but can also decrease pain from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Whether you subscribe to Qwerty, Dvorak, or Workman’s diphthong theory, you can have it all with a mechanical keyboard. Some models can change layouts with the flick of a switch.
Secretaries and office workers have long-since found the “clickety-clack” of mechanical keyboards to be personally satisfying. However hearing your cube-mate typing away can get distracting… fast. The Das Keyboard Professional S Quiet mechanical keyboard has been a popular choice amongst those wanting the benefits of a mechanical keyboard without all the noise.
No one harnesses the power of the keyboard shortcut quite like a graphic designer. If your daily routine consists of work in Adobe Creative Suite or you just enjoy the capabilities of Inkscape and Gimp, why not build a keyboard with a layout that optimizes that? Instead of “A,” a picture of the “arrow tool,” for “S,” the “slide tool,” and a few of your own defined shortcuts sprinkled in between.
WASD, Ducky, and others allow you to submit vector designs for your keycaps. You can label them whatever you want! No longer does Microsoft have to own your keyboard. Go ahead, name your Windows key “Gray.” Call it “Super,” call it whatever you want. The design is totally up to you!