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In the Zone

Go back to the future with mechanical keyboards

Kevin Jacoby's picture

by Kevin Jacoby on 02/11/2022
Blog Category: devices

Are you and your customers ready for a smart, trendy upgrade? Then get ready to kick it — er, type it — old school.

A new generation of mechanical keyboards is here. It offers improved ergonomics and modern convenience, all while retaining that classic clickity-clack.

For the uninitiated, the value of a mechanical keyboard may not be readily apparent. After all, these keyboards are bigger, louder and more expensive than your average typing surface.

Are they worth it? That depends on what you plan to do once you lay your fingertips on those keys.

Gaming mechanics

Avid gamers swear by mechanical keys. They love how these keyboards offer the perfect amount of travel, resistance and audible click. That combo can provide both a great typing experience and true competitive advantage.

What really distinguishes these keyboards is their use of mechanical switches. Unlike the membrane-switch keys commonly found on laptops, mechanical switches — such as the famed Cherry MX series — require a little extra down-force. This helps to reduce accidental keystrokes that could ruin a game.

Mechanical switches are also designed to return to their up positions very quickly. This greatly accelerates double-taps and other complex gaming maneuvers. Given the rapid-fire pace of today’s games, that’s huge.

Which switch?

There are quite a few mechanical switches out there. Each deviation offers a slightly different combination of sound, motion, resistance and feel.

How to find the perfect fit? It’s usually a matter of reviewing the various options, then employing some good old-fashioned trial and error. One helpful starting place is this Keyboard Co. guide to Cherry MX switches.

Once you’ve settled on your ideal switch, it’s time to choose the rest of the keyboard. Looking for a decidedly premium experience? Then consider the Drop CTRL Mechanical Keyboard

Drop CTRL Mechanical Keyboard

Drop CTRL: An uncommonly customizable keyboard

Starting at $200, Drop’s keyboard certainly isn’t cheap. But it’s well built and uncommonly customizable. You and your customers might find it’s well worth the extra money.

The CTRL features a sturdy aluminum frame, adjustable feet and dual USB-C connectors. And each key has its own custom key-mapping and RGB lighting.

Mechanicals for the masses

But mechanical keyboards are not only for gamers. A classic keyboard design offers far more than just advanced sword-play and laser fire.

All-day typists can use these keyboards, too. For them, a well-designed mechanical keyboard can provide comfort, longevity and better ergonomics than your average typing surface.

Need proof? Look no further than that mass-market peripheral powerhouse, Logitech. The company’s latest mechanical wonder, the G915 TKL, is a modern and chic home-office take on the classic mechanical keyboard.

Logitech mechanical keyboard

Logitech G915 TKL: gaming or working, your choice

Sure, Logitech puts the word “gaming” in the keyboard’s marketing copy. But that’s just to ensure we take this mechanical monster seriously. Look deeper at the G915’s construction, and you’ll see that the it’s been designed for work and play in equal measure.

The giveaway is the keys themselves. A bona fide gaming board would offer either the aforementioned Cherry MX switches or those of a close competitor with gaming cred such as Helio.

Instead, the G915 offers a choice of three different mechanical switches, all made by Logitech itself. These switches, like most mechanical keys, are differentiated using the universal color scheme originally defined by Cherry.

But wait, there’s more. The Logitech G915 also displays its office-centric focus with premium bells and whistles. Of particular note is the keyboard’s low-profile design, integrated media controls, and one-button switching between wireless and Bluetooth devices.

Okay, it’s not cheap. The Logitech G915 TKL retails for around $190.

The art of the upsell

At this point, you may be wondering whether mechanical keyboards offer the channel an opportunity. Here’s one to consider.

Computer sales tend to catalyze peripheral sales. Too often, this means sourcing the cheapest compatible keyboards available.

But what if you instead offered your customer a high-margin peripheral? One that looks good, feels great and will work well for years to come? (Mechanical keyboards are particularly durable.)

Bottom line: Mechanical keyboards offer a fun and uniquely personalized typing experience. Whether your customers are heavy-duty gamers or all-day office workers, a mechanical keyboard might just be love at first touch.

 

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