I’ve had this discussion with many people over which is the preferred choice between physical keyboards and touch keyboards. The general consensus seems to be for physical over touch — or virtual — keyboards. So I thought that I’d write 10 reasons why I like physical over touch keyboards. I have had many keyboards — as I mentioned in the Apple wireless keyboard review — and I have to say that the Apple wireless keyboard has stayed as my keyboard of choice for my iPad, but I don’t like using it when I am using my main PC.
My main PC has a wired Logitech Media Keyboard 600, which I seem to prefer over any other keyboard. I have no clue why I prefer this keyboard when there are more preferable keyboards on the market. I think it’s a case of being comfortable with this keyboard, and that’s really all that matters. I could go out and buy a new keyboard that’s a hundred times fancier, but I may not be as comfortable typing with it. A true case of function over form instead of form over function.
I think one of the main things I like with a physical keyboard over a touch or virtual keyboard is the sound of the physical keys — mostly the spacebar — as you type out at speed with them. It’s something that many companies have tried to emulate in virtual keys, but it just doesn’t work and becomes more of an annoyance than anything else. There is just something more appealing to the ears about a physical keyboard’s click than the manufactured click of a touch or virtual keyboard.
This is something that a touch or virtual keyboard just cannot stand up to, and that is the tactile feedback you get when your press a key on a physical keyboard. You know that you’ve pressed the key instead of relying solely on the screen and your reaction speed to fix any errors. You can feel when you’ve pressed an extra button and fix the error instantly. I have used a touch keyboard and make four or five times as many errors because I’m counting on my reactions and I’m usually halfway into the next word before my reaction catches up.
I am a touch typist, so speed is something that I need. Touch or virtual keyboards just don’t grant me a high enough speed for me to be anywhere near pleased with progress of the document I’m typing out or any number of instant messaging programs I’m using to type to friends — and yes, I do have some, contrary to popular belief. Speed means a lot to me purely because, the quicker I type, the more I can “say” — even if it’s not as eloquent as it could be, I say enough to get my point across.
Feel (Not Tactile Feedback)
Technically, feel is tactile feedback, but in this instance I mean, phrased as a question: Which would you rather type on? A cold glass screen, or on a lukewarm keyboard? The cold glass screen is good for everything but typing, but that’s just my opinion on the matter. I have tried to type quickly on the screen and find that — as I mentioned above — I just keep making mistakes that slow me right down. The feel makes all the difference, in my opinion.
Touch Typing is Not Possible
I don’t say this lightly because I have tried and it’s just not possible to know by touch where I am on a virtual keyboard. I can visually put my fingers on the right keys, but that defeats the purpose. The other point that I want to make here is that there are people — like me — who don’t touch type in the “prototypical” way. I have my own way of touch typing that would probably be seen as “wrong” by many people, but I get the job done and it’s still touch typing.
Pause While Typing
When I’m typing, I like to stop on the “home keys” for a short while while I think about the next part I’m going to write about. I can’t do that on a touch keyboard without typing a lot of gibberish — some may argue that this is gibberish, but I implore you to read further. This is one thing that touch and virtual keyboards can’t do, yet. I am under no illusion that, as technology develops further, smarter touch keyboards will do away with all of my current gripes with the current lineup on touch keyboards.
Number Pad Bliss
There is not a touch keyboard that has a number pad that works well. I use the number pad when inputing numbers and dealing with spreadsheets and the like. I’ve never seen — nor have I used — a touch number pad that I can use with the efficiency of a physical keyboard’s number pad. I know there are physical keyboards with and without a number pad, but I’ve never seen a touch keyboard with a number pad that works well.
With a physical keyboard, I can position the keyboard to where I want it to be relative to the screen. A touch or virtual keyboard is always going to be the ultimate compromise between being able to see the screen and being able to type on it. It’s an ultimate compromise that I’ve not managed to get right and ultimately it doesn’t feel comfortable for me. As I said above, this will probably change as the technology develops and gets smarter, but until then, it feels a little “clunky” to me.
If you get a stuck key on a physical keyboard, it’s not a big deal to pry the key out and troubleshoot what’s causing it to stick. If that happens on a touch or virtual keyboard, then you have to restart the app or ehttp://www.lockergnome.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=51643&action=editven restart the device. The problem comes when neither restarting the app or the device works; do you get another device, or do you stop using that app? This has happened to me before, and it wasn’t fun.
I had to add this to my 10 reasons. If you have had the misfortune of gaming with a touch or virtual keyboard, let me be the first to commiserate you. Physical keyboards for gaming — as far as I’m concerned — are a must. I have tried touch or virtual keyboards with games and, I’m not gonna lie, it made me rage. They slowed me down and made me vulnerable to anything and everything designed to make my life difficult within the game. However, there are fewer and fewer games that require only a keyboard and mouse and, if I wanted to, I could find a controller.
These are all of my reasons for wanting a physical keyboard over a touch or virtual keyboard. Which do you prefer?