The 10 Best Backlit Keyboards
Where Ergonomics, Functionality, And Style Align
The more time you spend using a computer, the more important the hardware associated with your system matters. While the sheer computing power of your system can be easy to augment by simply upgrading a program or adding more RAM or storage capacity, the physical items you use to interface with your software can present a more nuanced set of issues. For example, the same mouse that might serve well enough for surfing the web or clicking about while you use a word processor might prove woefully ineffective for gaming or design work. A laptop might make perfect sense for your use in class or while on a business trip but might need to be paired with an external monitor for effective work at home or at the office.
And if you spend hours a day typing away at your keyboard, the keyboard that came with your computer or that which is built into your laptop might contribute to ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome with long-term use. If you're serious about your computer, don't stop with considering its computing power: don't overlook the hardware. And as the two parts of your body most intimately connected with the computer are your fingers and your eyes, don't overlook the possibility that a backlit keyboard might be the perfect piece of hardware for you.
Why should you consider a backlit keyboard? If your only answer is that they simply look cool, that's more than acceptable. Computer hardware has evolved beyond mere functionality to the point of being a part of a person's aesthetic statement; you should be proud to use a keyboard that both works well and looks great.
On a more practical level, backlit keyboards can be used in lower light settings, making the perfect for use in shared spaces such as bedrooms or in a dormitory, or for creating a more immersive environment during gaming sessions or while enjoying other media.
As for which backlit keyboard is the best choice for your needs, that decision involves careful consideration.
Choosing The Best Backlit Keyboard For You
While the physical design of the keyboards themselves may vary greatly, there are essentially two varieties of backlit keyboards: those that are intended to help you see the keys for easier, more accurate typing in any light condition, and those that are designed to look interesting and unique. Backlit keyboards in the former category will usually feature keys illuminated with simple white lighting, and often only the key caps themselves will glow when the lighting is activated (i.e. the actual numbers and letters, rather than the entire keyboard). The latter type of backlit keyboard usually illuminates with one or more colors, potentially even at the same time, and they entire keyboard tends to glow, rather than simply the lit key caps.
If you are only interested in writing, programming, or other types of work, then there's likely no need for you to consider a multi-colored backlit keyboard. The many colors may well serve as more of a distraction than an improvement as you try to work on a project.
For the gamer or for the person who wants a bit more flair in their computer hardware setup, a colorful backlit keyboard is the way to go. While these keyboards certainly tend to bring a more youthful feel to a desk, they are suitable for anyone young at heart.
And don't let the cost of a backlit keyboard concern you: while some of the higher end units cost well over one hundred dollars, some of the most affordable options cost less than twenty dollars. Most options are in the fifty dollar range, which is within the budget of most serious computer users.
Thinking Beyond The Keyboard Itself
Once you have settled on the type of backlit keyboard you like, choosing between the more basic, "professional" look with basic white illumination for the keycaps, and the more playful, colorful varieties featuring their lurid, colorful lights, next consider the physical shape of the keyboard.
Consider features like a palm rest for reducing the stress put on your wrists during long hours spent at the keyboard, and consider the sensitivity the keys require. Make sure also to review the angles at which your prospective keyboard can be rested; some people prefer a marked tilt, while others want a keyboard that rests nearly flat. Some people may like a deft, responsive key that hardly requires a touch, while others may prefer a key that needs a good, solid tap. Also of course consider whether or not you prefer a wireless keyboard with remote connectivity options or if you trust a good old fashioned wired keyboard more.
Most backlit keyboards feature full number pads, but others, especially the smaller wireless options, may only feature numbers across the top. If you travel or commute with your keyboard, a smaller option may be an asset; if you use a desktop and rarely range far afield, then there's no reason to consider a unit without a full number pad on one side.
Also consider extra programmable keys; these might be critical for the editor, the programmer, or the serious gamer, but totally superfluous for the more basic uses of your computer's software.