The universal input device, this is where you will find all of our keyboards.

KBs may be a separate, cased peripheral device as in the case of desktop PCs for example, or they may be embedded into the structure of the machine.  This is the case with laptops or  devices such as handheld barcode scanners. We can further categorise them by connection into wired – PS/2, USB, ribbon cable – and wireless – wireless / bluetooth.

There are two basic mechanisms of operation of the keys themselves. i) mechanical (such as the “buckling spring” type of the popular IBM Model M) or ii) the inferior but now ubiquitous (and cheaper) membrane type.

Keybs often incorporate other features into their chassis, most commonly the number pad on the right hand side of “full size” models. They also may include extra functionality such as a fingerprint reader, card swipe/reader, backlighting and programmable keys. Laptop keyboards sometimes carry a pointing device in the middle, used as an alternative to the trackpad or external mouse.

Industrial KBs and those used in public-facing situations such as POS and ATMs are usually more rugged.  This is to mitigate against a a harder life (/abuse) in potentially more hostile environments.  They tend to feature materials that can better withstand these conditions such as stainless steel and corrosion-resistant plastics.  Some have larger keys to allow for easy use with gloved hands. Where there is a risk of liquid splashes, you may see them  covered in a waterproof membrane. Alternatively, a sealed touch-sensitive panel may feature.

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