The keyboard is one of the most important components of a modern computer. They allow you to input letters, numbers and other characters effectively. Think of a computer keyboard as the keys on a typewriter. Even if technology can make symbols and letters, the keys are required to tell the computer which ones to create.
If you have a built-in or custom laptop, the keyboard is part of the notebook shell. You don’t need to buy this component separately.
If you are building a PC from scratch, however, you’ll need to buy a keyboard that you’ll plug into the CPU. One type of keyboard that you can buy is a USB keyboard.
What is a USB Keyboard?
A USB keyboard is a standard keyboard that goes into the most useful and popular port of your computer — the USB port. The “U” in USB stands for universal. This means that you can use it to plug a wide range of peripherals.
Nearly all keyboards on the market today use a USB port instead of the outdated PS/2 keyboard port. The latter is a port developed by IBM. Its purpose is to connect a computer keyboard or mouse to a compatible PC. It features a six-pin mini-DIN plug and socket.
USB keyboards come in various shapes and sizes. The standard, full-size keyboard for desktop PCs is 17 inches. It typically comes in a 104-key layout, which includes a numeric keypad.
If you want something a bit more compact, there’s the mini-USB keyboard. This computer keyboard is typically ultrathin and portable, with a length of 11 inches. A mini-USB keyboard usually has 78 keys and is suitable for desktop PCs.
If you are looking for an affordable USB keyboard, this computer peripheral may be what you need.
Can You Use a USB Keyboard on a Laptop?
Some computer users have laptops with keyboards that are shorter and smaller than the traditional desktop ones. If you miss the action and full size of a genuine PC keyboard, then get one. You have the option to use the traditional, 104-key USB keyboard to improve your work or gaming performance.
Using an external USB keyboard on a laptop is not that complicated. The first step is to find an available USB port on your computer. Take note that these portable PCs have a few USB ports situated on the side, back and front panels. Pick the port that will allow you to use the external keyboard more comfortably.
The second (and final) step is to insert the USB keyboard connector into your chosen USB port. This type of keyboard is a plug-and-play (PnP) device.
As the name suggests, plug and play describe devices that you can use right away. You don’t have to tell the computer that you’ve added a new device. What’s more, you don’t have to install drivers manually. Instead, the computer recognized the plugged device automatically, loads new drivers for the hardware (if necessary) and notifies the user that the newly connected device is ready for use.
What Will Happen to My Laptop’s Built-in Keyboard?
Adding a USB keyboard to your laptop will not disable the internal keyboard of your laptop. As a matter of fact, you can use both. If you insist on disabling your laptop keyboard, you could follow this guide.
What If I Just Want the Numeric Keypad?
Some laptop models do not have a numeric keypad.
If all you want is a separate numeric keypad and not the entire windows keyboard, consider purchasing only that item. Pick up a USB numeric keypad, which you can find at most computer stores.
Which is Better: A USB Keyboard or a Wireless Keyboard?
A USB keyboard is your best bet if you:
- Need a responsive and reliable computer keyboard
- Will be doing a lot of high-stakes gaming on your laptop or desktop PC
- Plan on doing a lot of work at your station each day
Wired keyboards typically deliver consistent performance. Given that you don’t have to think about battery life, you can use this computer peripheral indefinitely.
On the other hand, you are better off swapping your USB keyboard with a wireless keyboard if you:
- Are the type of person who is always on the go (an example is you needing to pack up your keyboard right away for your next meeting or event)
- Prefer to use your computer keyboard far away from your computer
- Dislike dangling cables and want to keep your desk organized and free of clutter
If you want a wireless keyboard, you could opt for a wireless radio frequency (RF) keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard. Take note that these two technologies are not the same.
RF keyboards use radio waves to communicate through a radio frequency with the USB receiver plugged into your laptop or desktop PC. Bluetooth keyboards, on the other hand, use a dongle to communicate with a PC. The effective range of Bluetooth, however, is typically no more than 10 feet.
The USB keyboard and the wireless keyboard have their set of pros and cons. Think about how you’re going to use this device, so you can buy the keyboard that’s right for you.