Mechanical, Optical & Membrane Keyboards — Which One Is Right For You? 

Whether you use your computer for work, play, or a combination of the two, the right keyboard can make all the difference. We're passionate about making technology accessible to all with our lineup of user-friendly, comfortable keyboards at Azio.

Today we take a look at three types of keyboards — mechanical, optical, and membrane. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of each type, and to find out which keyboard is right for you.

Optical Keyboards

Optical keyboards use light that's emitted below the surface of each key. When a user presses a key on an optical keyboard, also known as a photo-optical keyboard, the light that's hidden below the key is blocked. This blockage is registered as a keystroke, and that's how characters are relayed through this type of keyboard.

Because optical keyboards use lights, rather than true mechanical switches, this style of keyboard can be made to be quite lightweight with a low profile. Another perk for some users is the fact that optical keyboards are usually engineered to resist liquid intrusion, making this style of keyboard a solid option for use in environments where moisture poses a risk to peripheral devices.

Membrane Keyboards

Unlike optical and mechanical keyboards that have individual keys that cover each switch, membrane keyboards consist of a flexible, one-piece printed silicone keyboard, or membrane. The membrane has the key pattern printed directly on it, and the underside of this membrane is printed with specialized ink that conducts electricity. When a user presses a key on a membrane keyboard, the upper layer makes contact with conductive traces located below the keyboard underneath a small air gap. This allows a very mild electrical current to flow, and that's what registers the keystroke.

Because membrane keyboards are crafted using flexible, waterproof materials, this type of keyboard is known for being durable and quite resistant to liquid and dirt intrusion. Another notable benefit of a membrane keyboard is the fact that they are very affordable compared to other keyboard styles.

The Azio VISION membrane keyboard series includes both wired and wireless Bluetooth models, and users can select between a range of backlight colors to improve contrast and keyboard visibility. The popular low-cost, specialized KB505U Keyboard is designed for visually impaired users who prefer a keyboard with extra large print keys.

Explore Azio Membrane Keyboards

Mechanical Keyboards

Mechanical keyboards are high-quality, user-friendly keyboardsthat deliver the classic sound and feel that many discerning consumers prefer. This style of keyboard has a separate mechanical switch beneath each key, so when the key is pressed, each keystroke can be clearly felt, and heard, by the user. As a result, many fans of mechanical keyboards say that they can type faster, and with far greater precision,on a mechanical keyboard than they're able to on an optical or membrane-style keyboard.

With a mechanical keyboard, every keycap is connected to a spring-loaded switch. Pressing a key turns off that switch, registering the keystroke while producing a soft, pleasant "click". The auditory and tactile feedback provided by these mechanical switches means there's no second-guessing as to whether or not a key has been pressed. Although this style of keyboard comes with a premium price tag, it's quickly gaining popularity among discerning users.

At Azio, we offer a wide range of premium-quality mechanical keyboards for users who demand only the best from their peripherals. One of our sought-after models is the IZO Wireless Keyboard, available in your choice of three bold colorways.

Our industry-leading Retro Classic Bluetooth Keyboard is our most popular mechanical keyboard that combines the look and feel of a traditional, manual typewriter with a beautiful leather or wood surface, backlit keyboard, and dual Bluetooth / USB interface. The Retro keyboard includes Mac & PC compatibility, and ships with a set of swappable PC keycaps.

And for the ultimate user experience, our FOQO Mechanical Keyboard features an innovative multi-function control knob that can be programmed to any keyboard shortcuts.