Amp Blasts: Membrane Keyboards

I don't know what the hell is the deal, but in many cases it feels like the quality of computer peripherals has went backwards in recent years. While USB is great for mobile storage, it is a definite step backwards for game controllers due to the poll based nature having a delay whereas the interrupt based nature of Parallel ports and PS/2 ports did not have this. There is also the fact that sound in PCs went backwards due to the remove of hardware accelerated sound in Windows Vista and 7. (Oddly enough, Windows 8 actually brought this feature back so as much as I hate to say it, Microsoft did SOMETHING right with that release.) The biggest issue though is how in the past 20+ years we have actually went backwards with regard to keyboard quality.

Now, most people won't think of this and most people under 25 don't know this, but most keyboards from the 80s were mechanical by design. Mechanical keyboards used physical switches to determine if the key has been pressed. As a result of these switches, we would have a strong, tactile response given from them. However, mechanical keyboards are rather expensive, with the starting price for a good entry level solution being in the $90 range.

The overwhelming majority of keyboards that are used these days are membrane based keyboards. These types of keys require the key to be pressed completely down and are rather mushy by comparison. What makes this worse is that for people who have higher amounts of finger strength (Hi RaT!) they will die within 2-3 years. Furthermore, while they are rated for 5 million keystrokes on a key, they usually fall strongly short of that number, whereas mechanical keys are rated for 50 million keystrokes and the switches can be replaced on an individual basis with relative ease.

The one thing that does drive me insane is the fact that there are some membrane-based keyboards that somehow command a large amount of money such as the various Razer and Logitech models. The truth of the matter is that a few extra keys and fancy lights don't sell me on a product. When I look at a product I want to see quality and the truth is that I don't see quality from such a keyboard when they feel like a ticking time-bomb waiting to fail. There are so many people who want the best in gaming, yet they have a crap keyboard, if they made the switch to mechanical keyboards I am convinced that they would never switch back and like me, renounce membrane keyboards.