All about Computer Keyboards and Computer Mice/Mouses

Anyone who has tried to type out long text on tiny keys after using a full size keyboard knows the importance that type, and size of typing apparatuses can make. What many may not realize, however, is the vast array of types and sizes both keyboards and computer mice are available for purchase and use. This blog will look at many different kinds of these computer peripheral devices along with a few highlighted products from ILA.

Computer Keyboards

There are many different types of computer keyboards on the market today. One of the more comprehensive overviews I’ve found comes from the article Types of Keyboards for Computers: How to Choose the Right One. This section will look at 5 of the 13 types listed.

Qwerty Keyboards   

Designed in the likeness of old-fashioned typewriters, QWERTY is the most common keyboard layout. Generations of typists have come to know the QWERTY keyboard, and most students learn to type with this kind of keyboard layout.

Where it excels: The QWERTY keyboard layout is comfortable, familiar and time-tested, ideal for everyday typing needs. If you are happy enough with your word-per-minute typing rate using QWERTY, you won’t need to learn a new system on a keyboard with a different layout.

Ergonomic Keyboards

Ergonomic keyboards refer to any keyboards designed to reduce strain on the body from typing. These kinds of keyboards are often laid out so that you can rest your hands in a more comfortable, natural position as you type.

Where it excels: Because ergonomic keyboards are designed to reduce strain on your hands, arms and wrists while you type, they can be a great choice for those concerned about posture, hand, arm or shoulder pain, or the possibility of developing typing-related medical conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Wireless Keyboards   

Relying on a radio frequency antenna or infrared to keep you connected, wireless RF keyboards offer a bit of freedom in your computing activities.

Where it excels: Wireless keyboards offer flexibility to move about while working on a computer without the clutter of excess wires. Because these keyboards are wire-free, they can also be a great option to take on-the-go because there won’t be any cords that can tangle in your work bag.

Bluetooth Keyboards   

A bit pricier than other wireless keyboard models, Bluetooth keyboards offer numerous features and benefits. As you might be able to guess by the name, these keyboards sync up with a laptop using Bluetooth connectivity.

Where it excels: Bluetooth keyboards offer great flexibility with a sizable range of use and versatility. These keyboards also won’t tie up a USB port on your computer, meaning you can use that to connect to other devices.

Backlit Keyboards   

An ambient glow from your keyboard makes it easy to type in the dark or in low-lighting and can also deliver a stunning “wow” factor.

Where it excels: Backlit keyboards bring radiance to your gaming and computer work in both wired and wireless designs. While backlit keys may not be a necessity, they can be a great option for those with vision issues as they make it easy to see all of the keys on the keyboard.

Computer Mice/Mouses

When it comes to the plural of the computer mouse both mice and mouses are considered correct. Just like there are a myriad of keyboard options there are also a plethora of various types of computer mice. A nice comprehensive breakdown of this peripheral device can be found in Types of Computer Mice- Which One Should I Get? This section will look at 5 of the 12 mentioned types of mice.

Mechanical Mouse

The mechanical or ball mouse is a refined version of Engelbart’s original mouse which had external wheels. Instead of wheels, mechanical mice have a metal or rubber ball that can spin in any direction. Two rollers keep track of the ball’s movements and convert the data into electric signals for the display cursor. The good thing about the ball mouse is that it’s cheap and it works on glossy surfaces. But it does require regular cleaning to operate smoothly.

Optical and Laser Mouse

If you’re using a mouse today, chances are that it’s either optical or laser mouse. Instead of a ball, optical mice detect the user’s movements using the reflected light of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Laser mice, of course, use laser light. Since they have fewer moving parts, they are more reliable than a mechanical mouse. They are also more sensitive and do not require regular cleaning. The only downfall to the optical mouse is that it does not work on shiny surfaces which the mouse sees as its own reflection tricking the software into thinking it is not moving. Laser mice do not have this limitation.

Wireless Mouse

There are two types of wireless mouses out on the market today:

  • RF Mouse: This type of wireless mouse uses radio frequency to send signals to the receiving computer or device. A dongle inserted into the device’s USB slot is usually needed to actualize the set up.
  • Bluetooth Mouse: This type of wireless mouse takes advantage of the Bluetooth protocol that most modern computers have. Because of this, Bluetooth mice usually don’t need a dongle. Using the 2.4 GHz radio frequency (RF) range, it has a range of about 33 feet (10 meters).

The biggest drawback of RF wireless mouse is the need for a dongle, while for Bluetooth, it’s the higher latency and delay when pairing up with your computer.

Trackball Mouse

A trackball mouse consists of a large ball housed inside a stationary unit. You rotate the ball using your fingers, thumb, or palm to control the cursor on the screen.

There are two types of trackball mice:

  • Finger-Operated Trackball: With its symmetrical design, this can be used by either hand.
  • Thumb-Operated Trackball: Asymmetric by nature, it’s hard to find this type of trackball mouse in a left-handed configuration.

The trackball mouse can be a good choice for anyone with CTS and other RSI, as it minimizes common wrist movements such as the “windshield” action that often leads to wrist pain (especially the thumb operated version). It’s a good alternative as well for the elderly who have difficulty keeping a traditional mouse still while double-clicking.

A trackball mouse is also great in tight or uneven surfaces (such as on a couch).

Of course, it has some pitfalls too. It is not as precise as the standard mouse in tasks like drag and drop and selection. It is not suitable for fast-paced gaming either.

Roller Bar Mouse

Sometimes referred to as the track bar, the roller bar mouse is placed directly in front of your keyboard. It comes with a small bar which you can move sideways, forward, and backward to control your cursor. You can tap on it to click or use the designated buttons. It also usually comes with a built-in palm rest.

There are several benefits to using this type of mouse.

  • Prevents stretching to reach the mouse, which can strain the neck, back, and shoulders
  • A good alternative for people with arthritis and others who find it difficult to grasp a traditional mouse
  • Can be used by both hands to minimize fatigue
  • Helps with thumb pain.

Specialized Keyboards and Mice from ILA

ILA offers many options to assist persons who are visually and/or physically impaired to be able to use their technological devices more easily. To see more specialized products, click on assistive technology.

KEYS-U-SEE Wireless Large Print Keyboard w/ Mouse: Bigger, bolder print on each key makes them easier to see! The Keys-U-See wireless large print computer keyboard and mouse combination is designed for those who have a hard time seeing the existing letters on the standard keyboard. This user-friendly large print keyboard also has 12 “hot keys” providing easy access to common functions. Wireless functionality means that there are no cords to get tangled on your desk.

LogicKeys LP Apple Keyboard for MAC: Large print keyboards for Mac computers are perfect for those individuals who are having a hard time seeing the existing commands on their keyboards. By offering a bigger and bolder typeface, the keys become easier to see. These keyboards are especially designed to assist the low-vision Mac user.

Big Track Mouse Ball: The BIGtrack is a valuable tool for users who lack fine motor skills which a regular mouse requires. For example, if you have arthritis an ordinary mouse can be difficult to hold and keep the cursor in position whilst you click. The BIGtrack allows you to settle the cursor in position and then click easily without moving the cursor inadvertently.

The giant yellow 3″ trackball makes it easy to get the cursor to precisely where you want it and bright blue right and left click buttons are easy to see and distinguish.

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