Keyboard is the most common input device used for entering text data directly into a computer. A computer keyboard is similar to that of a typewriter, but it has additional keys as well. The most commonly available computer keyboard has 104 keys. Data is entered into a computer by pressing a set of keys available with the keyboard. Keyboard is the oldest input device, which is still being used with the modern computer. When user presses a key, the corresponding character appears on screen.
1. Keyboard Keys:
The keys of the keyboard are divided as:
1. Numeric keys
2. Character/Alphanumeric keys
3. Punctuation keys
4. Functional keys
5. Special purpose keys
6. Cursor movement keys
a. Numerical keys:
Numeric keyboard is usually located on right side of the keyboard with its 10 digits (0 to 9) and mathematical operators (+,-,*,/). These keys are used to input numeric information.
b. Character/Alphanumeric keys:
These keys are mainly used to enter characters. These keys include keys for characters like a-z, A-Z, 0-9, enter key and shift key.
c. Punctuation keys:
To type the special punctuation characters, punctuation keys, such as the colon (:), the semicolon (;), the question mark (?), single quotes (‘), and double quotes (“) are used.
d. Function keys:
These keys are arranged at the topmost row of the keyboard and each one of them has a special function key differs from software to software. Normally, a standard keyboard has 12 function keys (F1, F2 …F12).
e. Special purpose keys:
These keys are used to perform special functions like deletions or moving a page up or down. Some others keys in this category are Home, End, Insert, Ctrl and Alt etc.,
f. Cursor movement keys:
These keys allow us to move around the screen. Most keyboards have the keys such as arrow keys to move the cursor up/down.
2. Multimedia keyboard:
A multimedia keyboard is designed to make it one touch simple for the user to access often used programs. Multimedia keyboard contains various additional keys to perform functions like volume control, launching internet explorer, changing song and video tracks, launching e-mail software etc., A typical multimedia keyboard contains buttons that control various computer processes, such as turning on the compute’s power, putting the CPU to sleep, and waking it up again.
The web browser keys on a multimedia keyboard should be familiar to most internet users. Back, forward, stop, and refresh buttons are usually present on such keyboard. A specific type of multimedia keyboard is called a gaming keyboard. It is used for high-tech video games, can be even more expensive.
3. Wireless keyboard:
Wireless keyboards are also available today, but a higher price than wired keyboard. These keyboards do not have any wire attached to them. Wireless keyboard interacts with the computer through Bluetooth or infrared technology. Wireless keyboards transfer typing data to the computer via infrared beams. A beam of information is sent from the keyboard, as you type, to a receiver, which is plugged into the computer. Wireless keyboard operates on battery power rather than using electricity from the user’s computer.
Advantage of using wireless keyboard rather than a regular keyboard is that it offers much more mobility. A wireless keyboard can be used on a lap, in a bed, or just used while on the go for laptop users. Disadvantages of using a wireless keyboard are that it has to be installed & configured before it can be used. Regular keyboards on the other hand, run on plug & play software & work immediately after they are plugged in.