There is a wide range of mechanical keyboards available on the market, with switches from different manufacturers and features. It is all very well to know, more or less, the characteristics of the different types of switches, but there is something more important. Perhaps more important is the type of keycaps or keys , which affect when you use the keyboard , believe it or not.
Maybe you have never noticed the plastic keys where each letter is silkscreened. There are two aspects that we should know about this element: manufacturing material and design. We are going to focus on the design, specifically, its shape, which is something very important, more than you can imagine.
Know the height and shape of the keys for mechanical switches
If you have a mechanical keyboard and look at it in profile, you will surely see that not all mechanical switch covers are not created equal. These keys have different designs to offer the user the greatest possible comfort. We can compare it with membrane-type keyboards, which usually have plate covers.
For each of the rows, we can find a different height and angle of the keycaps. If we go from top to bottom, and look at the keyboard from the side, we can clearly see the differences. We see how a convex effect can be seen on keyboards.
Let’s assign the row of function (Fx) keys and the number keys as R4. The row of QWERTY keys, we will baptize it as R3 and ASDF as R2. Finally, the ZXCV rows and where the Cntrl, Windows, Alt and other keys are, such as R1. Note that the space key usually has a concave or flat design , it is the only exception.
There is variation in the height of the keys or keycaps depending on the manufacturer. We must also take into account that it varies a lot between whether they are full profile solutions or compact versions. The ones with the greatest height are the SA , which we could say are the standard.
We have a slightly smaller version, such as the MDA . The OEM keys are simpler in shape and are somewhat more compact. Cherry has official keycaps that they produce that are really compact in design , about 30-50% “smaller” than the OEM ones depending on the row. XDA is a lower version than MDA and DSA is also a more compact version than SA.
Now you have something else to focus on
You may have looked at the switches, the format or the connectivity to date, simply. We imagine that after this explanation you will add another element to look at. And, as you can see, there are different types of keys on the market.
When we buy online it can be difficult to distinguish between the different types of keys. Usually, in many cases there are photographs that allow you to see, more or less, the type of keys used by rows. You can also choose to search by keyboard name and see product reviews.
Note that some keyboard manufacturers may choose to create their own keycaps. This is unusual, as it is a relatively complex and expensive process. It is not only the design and refinement time for it to meet certain criteria, you also have to buy the molds. And it is that specific molds are required that the manufacturer must pay for and, in addition, they are per key.
Many keyboard manufacturers looking for something “custom” choose to purchase from a specialized manufacturer. The American manufacturer Signature Plastics, also known as SP, is usually the most popular. Not only does it manufacture for third parties, it also has a wide variety of keycaps of different heights and shapes patented.
We hope it has been useful for you to choose your next keyboard.