Tech Savvy: Past meets present in personalizing the keyboard
Inspired by traditional typewriters, keyboard options include close replicas or add lights and motion and point to that comforting typewriter click clack of key sounds.
If you spend a lot of time at a computer, the keyboard is key and one of the few pieces so easily customizable for look, feel and sound.
And don’t worry if you have several keyboards around. I have a tiny foldable one in my bag in case I need to write an entire story from my iPhone. I’ve got a quiet, low-profile Goldtouch split ergonomic keyboard at my work desk that folds up in case I want to work from home. And at home, I’ve got a small but hefty Logitech keyboard with a holder for an iPad. The keys are louder but are mainly in a home office where the comfortable clack of the keys is enjoyable.
But the options for keyboards are nearly endless. And a rather inexpensive way to add style and personality to an office space. Sometimes that is just what is needed to make everything a little more fun.
Recently, a former co-worker who was purchasing items for her new office got me thinking about keyboard options. For people who spend any time at the computer for work or play, a keyboard — whether it uses Bluetooth or a cord — is an important link to the desktop, laptop or tablet. Typically, the keyboards connect to up to three devices and switch between seamlessly once they are paired, whether that’s working on a PC or an Apple device.
The right keyboard can make the work or school process, at least the typing, pain free and enjoyable.
The PNK Stuff has a colorful line of keyboard and mouse sets with Bluetooth keyboards that are black and pink, silver pink, silver blue, and come as attractive color palettes with shades of pink, blue or multi-color. The aesthetic effect is remarkable and may be that mood lift needed on a Monday morning.
If looking for a gift option for the techie in the family, the backlighting wireless mice come with color reminiscent of the lights below the cars in a “Fast and Furious” movie. But what might stand out on The PNK Stuff list is what a number of companies are offering — a keyboard that replicates the look of a classic typewriter, complete with round keys. The typewriter keyboard comes with a stand for a tablet or smartphone and has raised keys with all the look of a traditional typewriter. It apparently includes the sound effects as well, but it was hard to tell from the video on the company’s website with the background music going.
And that was a problem across multiple manufacturers as I sought to hear the sound of the keyboard in action. Most included it but had music playing over the typing so loud it was impossible to really get a feel for the sound.
If you are working in a personal or home office, it may not be an issue. Typing in an open office could be an issue for co-workers. Watch an old black and white movie about a newsroom or one with a typing pool to get an idea just how loud that could be back in the day.
For those who never really spent much time on a manual typewriter, the sound may be entertaining. And those keys, which pushed the letters on thin metal arms to the striking surface, used to sometimes become a jumble of metal in the center if the typing was too fast. The modern retro typewriter keyboards don’t have that problem or the need for a corrector ribbon. Ah, the good old days.
Minus the issue of missing the key and punching your fingers between them into the mechanics beneath. Never fun. The keyboard is a better experience, but the sound and look of the typewriter may be a nice meld between the past and present.
A recent sale for The PNK Stuff had the classic typewriter keyboard, with stand, at $129.
Most of the ones I looked for online had multiple color options with the classic typewriter look of round keys. They had USB as well as Bluetooth to connect. Some were identical to a keyboard look, complete with homage to the paper roller, while others were more inspired by a typewriter look.
Some of the new models even included a glimpse at those metal arms that carried the keys to the ink ribbon but now they just light up with the keystrokes. That is what the Rymek typewriter-style keyboard offers. The company states it blends past, present and future with modern features in a classic design. It definitely looks like a typewriter.
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Rymek reports it “comes with ergonomically saddle-shape keycaps” that boost typing speed and accuracy. The scroll knob handles the volume and is an on/off switch.
“This keyboard is unique and the sound is all you need for your alone time writing,” one reviewer wrote. “The design is beautiful and the black/rose gold contrast is smart and modern with that taste of retro. Absolutely in love!”
Adventurers typewriter-style retro mechanical keyboard is backlit and is designed to resemble a 1940s keyboard with keys that provide the comforting click sound. The keyboard has a tray for the phone or tablet and can be set up to connect with three devices. It comes with a volume adjustment on the wheel that once advanced paper on the roller. The little metal arm, which in the olden days returned the roller back to its starting position after a line was typed, now adjusts a lighting system in the keys. Several lighting options are available from a pulse to lights that wash across the keyboard or follow a pattern.
“The keys are the perfect combo of clicky and clacky,” one reviewer wrote. Other reviewers enjoyed the backlit keys and the typewriter sound. A recent price for the keyboard was $118.
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Logitech’s POP keyboard goes a step further with customizable emoji keys. The Studio Series keyboard and mouse was announced in late 2021 with keyboard, mouse and desk mat.
“The emoji keys can be easily customized to your favorite emoji or another handy shortcut using Logitech Options software, available via a simple download for PC or Mac,” Logitech stated in a news release. “POP Mouse also features a top button that opens the emoji menu and can be customized for one-tap convenience.”
The keyboard includes 12 function FN shortcuts “like Snip Screen, Mute Mic and Media Keys to facilitate the modern workday.”
There are eight swappable emoji keys and one emoji menu key, all customizable using Logitech software on Windows and macOS.
“Fun bouncy typing: Experience typing that’s almost addictive on typewriter-style mechanical keys; feel your fingers bounce across the comfy, scooped keys as they click, clack and pop,” Logitech stated. Logitech’s keyboard has a three-year battery life. At Best Buy, the ratings were 4.7 stars for the keyboard. Best Buy recently listed the keyboard at $99.99.
These are some of the options, but there are many more out there. So personalize the experience and make all that time on the keyboard a little more fun.
Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz .