The keyboard is one of the most important factors in choosing a new netbook. With the right keyboard you’ll be able to type comfortably and quickly. With a keyboard that’s too small or isn’t responsive enough you’ll end up with a lot of typos and finger fatigue. Netbook keyboards vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it’s important to try each keyboard out and look for one with function keys that suit your needs.
Believe it or not, a 10-inch netbook can squeeze in a full-sized keyboard and most netbooks in the 10- to 12-inch range have this feature. If you have large fingers or you need a full-sized keyboard to type comfortably, look for a netbook that’s 10 inches or larger. Smaller keyboards are just as functional, but it may take you some time to get used to typing on small keys.
You won’t find a number pad on your netbook, but you’ll usually find additional function keys across the top of the deck to control screen brightness, volume, media playback and shortcuts to open your email or a Web browser. If you’ll use your netbook primarily for email or to watch videos it may be worth choosing a netbook with these shortcut keys.
Keyboards come with a wide range of tactile responses. Some keys are stiff when you press them, others are bouncy. Check for stickiness and make sure the keys pop back up quickly after you strike them. If you’re a fast typist, make sure the keys respond quickly enough that all your keystrokes are registered. Take some time to make sure the keys are comfortable or you’ll end up with finger fatigue down the road.
Beware the Control key. Some netbook keyboards switch the placement of the Shift, Control and Function keys. This nonstandard configuration takes some getting used to if you use keyboard shortcuts. Try typing a few paragraphs on the keyboard before you purchase a netbook to make sure the keys are placed far enough apart that you can type without too many typos. Sometimes keys are so close together it’s difficult to type accurately.