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Chapter 20. Keyboards
The primary input device for most computer systems is the keyboard, and until voice-recognition systems are perfected to the point that they can recognize continuous speech, the dominance of the keyboard is not likely to change. Even then the keyboard will probably remain unapproachable for speed and accuracy for years to come. The keyboard also is more suited to data entry in open offices, airplanes, and anywhere your privacy is not ensured and your sanity not beyond reproach.
When you're buying a new computer, the keyboard is the least of your worries. After all, the manufacturer takes care of it for you. Nearly every desktop computer comes completely equipped with a keyboard (otherwise the computer wouldn't be much good for anything). Notebook computers have their keyboards completely built in. Moreover, keyboards are pretty much all the same these days—or at least they all look the same. Over the last decade, the key layout has become almost completely standardized, the one true keyboard design that might have been ordained by God. With a desktop machine, you get 101 keys on a surfboard-size panel that monopolizes your desktop or overflows your lap. With a notebook computer, you're stuck with whatever the computer-maker thought best for you and the market value of its executive stock options.
The default keyboard that comes with your computer is more variable than you might think, however. Underneath all those keys you might find one or another exotic technology that would seem best left to the realm of engineers. But the technology used by your keyboard determines not only how it works but also how long it works and how much you will enjoy working with it. It may even influence whether keyboarding is a time of pleasure or pain. The underlying differences are enough to make you consider casting aside the (usually) cheap, default keyboard the maker of your desktop computer packed in the box and getting something more suitable to your fingers and your work. When you consider a notebook computer, a difference in keyboards might be enough to make you favor one machine over another, particularly when the rest of the two systems are well matched.
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