Multimedia Keyboard

In the past, computer keyboards were simple gadgets used mostly for typing, but their size and capabilities have grown in recent years. The huge popularity of the internet and digital media has given rise to the multimedia keyboard, which is a regular keyboard combined with a media center and other special buttons. It allows applications to be operated by pressing actual buttons on the keyboard, rather than by clicking virtual buttons on the screen with a mouse. Both wired and wireless models are available, along with ergonomic models that relieve the stress of typing.

Anyone who prefers to play music and videos on their computer can benefit from using a multimedia keyboard. It makes adjusting the volume so much easier and allows a media player to be operated without fumbling around with the mouse. Many popular websites have videos now so even web browsing can be improved by using a multimedia keyboard. It also makes the perfect accessory for a television that can access the internet. By using a wireless multimedia keyboard, it’s even possible to do all these things while sitting on a couch on the other side of the room, which is certainly more relaxing and enjoyable that being hunched over a computer screen.

The media center is a group of large keys at the top of a multimedia keyboard, usually above the function keys but sometimes below them. A typical media center layout has two middle buttons for adjusting the volume, along with buttons on either side for play/pause, stop, rewind, fast forward, and mute. The media center controls the application that has the current focus on the screen. If the focus is changed to another application, the media center will start controlling that one instead. To get the focus back, the user simply select the right application with the keyboard or mouse.

Besides the media center, there are special buttons on a multimedia keyboard for controlling specific applications. Normally, there is a button to open the default email client, along with a button to open the default web browser. The application opened by these buttons can be changed in the keyboard options section of the operating system. A multimedia keyboard may also have buttons for the file explorer, calculator, instant messenger client, and certain user folders. Windows keyboards normally have a button that pops up the start menu, as well as a button that makes the popup menu appear.

If a lot of typing will be done on a multimedia keyboard, it’s better to choose one with an ergonomic layout rather than one with a standard layout. The layout of the keys on an ergonomic keyboard is curved to match the natural position of the hands, to avoid unnecessary bending of the wrists while typing. This is suppose to reduce pressure on the delicate nerves and tendons inside the wrist, and hopefully lessen the chance of developing a painful condition known as repetitive strain injury (RSI). This is a serious problem suffered by many computer users that often requires physiotherapy and even surgery to correct.

Practically every wired multimedia keyboard available today has a USB cable, but that can be a problem if the computer does not have a spare USB port or has only PS2 ports. Fortunately, most keyboards come with a USB to PS2 adapter that will fix this problem. To avoid the limitations of a cable, choose a wireless model that communicates with a tiny USB adapter on the computer. Its batteries will last a long time but will eventually need to be replaced or recharged, usually every few months. The older wireless keyboards were a bit troublesome but the newest ones are no more difficult to use than a wired keyboard.

There are a few other features to look out for when choosing a multimedia keyboard. Some models have audio ports and a couple of USB ports on the side, which are great because the user no longer has to reach around to the back of the computer to plug in headphones and other accessories. Make sure that the keyboard has solid rubber feet and two stands on the base, and that it has lights which show when caps lock, num lock, and scroll lock are active. If a mouse is also needed, it’s often cheaper to buy a bundle pack that has a mouse included rather than buy it separately.

This Multimedia Keyboard Review is Written/Updated on Mar 22nd, 2011 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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