There you are, sitting on your office chair. Feeling comfortable and good about yourself. Let me tell you something. You are lost. You are a nobody. Why? Because you don’t have a mechanical keyboard in your life! Like some evangelical preacher, I have an idea I need to sell you. That is the glory of the mechanical keyboard. If you accept the mechanical keyboard into your life, you could be experiencing increased comfort, improved productivity, and glory! It will change the way you type forever! Don’t just ask me, there are plenty of fanatics that have forever converted from using cheap, rubber-dome keyboards to high-quality mechanicals. I have made a short list of five reasons why you should switch to a mechanical keyboard. I have faith that you will see the light.
Okay, I’m done with the religious references. Onto the good stuff. The first benefit of a mechanical keyboard over a standard rubber-dome keyboard is the precision. What do I mean by precision? Improved accuracy. By using a mechanical keyboard, you can improve the accuracy of your keystrokes and reduce typing errors. This mean less backspacing. As an efficient typist, you must try not to use the backspace as much as possible. It’s far from the home rows and it puts your weakest finger(pinky) to work. How can a mechanical keyboard improve precision? It’s quite simple. Most mechanical keyboard have Cherry MX switches and most of these have a tactile “feedback” when a character is registered. You can literally “feel” when the character is going to input. This is usually about halfway down until the keycaps bottom out. Some key switches give you a “click” sound that some people enjoy. For the sake of consistency, I will use Cherry MX brown switches as my main point of reference.
The second reason why you need to switch to a mechanical keyboard is ergonomics. Mechanical keyboards generally have higher quality keycaps which are rounded to let your fingers rest on them more comfortably. Traditional laptop keys, with the exception of Lenovo’s, are flat. Flat keys are good for space-saving designs but you not only lose precision, but also comfort. I find flat keys uncomfortable to type on for long periods because I have to hit them “head on” in order not to make an error. Also, it is very easy to hit these keycaps on the corners which will cause your fingers to slip and mis-type. If you hit the corner of a keycap on a mechanical keyboard, you still have a good chance of registering the input. The longer “throw” of mechanical keyboards are also more comfortable for long typing sessions compared to the short engagement point of chicklet-style keyboards. For a long time, I thought the main attribute of an ergonomic keyboard is shape. After using the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic keyboard for 2-3 years and using my Leopold Tenkeyless for about 5 months, I realize that it’s not about the shape. The main reason mechanical keyboards are better is the key switches.
The third benefit is reduced strain. I realize this is closely related to comfort but I felt that this deserved its own section simply because of RSI(Repetitive Strain Injury). We use our computers for hours and some of us do not take RSI seriously. I take good care of my hands. And so should you. For most people, their hands are their livelihood. Hand health is very important if you are a musician, laborer, or athlete. One thing I’ve notice after spending a few months with my mechanical keyboard compared to keyboards of my past is finger pain. I use to get finger pain after prolonged typing on the rubber dome keys. They were all I knew so I didn’t question. It wasn’t until I was in the market for a better keyboard where I found out about mechanical key switches. Subsequently, it wasn’t until I was typing on them for hours until I realized my finger pain was mainly caused by the cheap rubber-dome keyboards. If you are on the computer for hours, or if your profession involves extensive amounts of typing, consider investing on a mechanical keyboard for this very reason. These key switches will reduce finger strain. Your hands will thank you.
The fourth benefit of using a mechanical keyboard is improved speed. A more precise, comfortable keyboard means improved typing speed. I was never a speed typist. Barely being able to type 25 WPM, after a few months of serious training, I can now type 60-70 WPM. Your mileage may vary but you will improve your speed. If not in burst typing, definitely in endurance typing. That’s typing long essays or reports. Wiki has the average typing speed rated at 33 WPM. If you are over this, you are doing very well.
The last and most important reason why you need a mechanical keyboard? They’re fun! That may sound silly to say but after getting one, I now enjoy typing. I like the sound of these Cherry MX browns. Some people like the blues. You can’t go wrong either way. They’re great to type on. Mechanical keyboards have their own unique personalities. From the simple Leopold Tenkeyless to the highly sought after HHKB Pro 2. Typing shouldn’t be a chore. Most people probably won’t be competing on typeracer for leisure, but mechanical keyboards will make you smile. It’s like buying a luxury car. Sure, you don’t NEED leather heated seat with power everything but if you can afford it, why not treat yourself? Especially a tool that you will spend years using. Once you punch the keys, you will see the light