The 65% keyboard is a compact keyboard form factor that reduced keyboard size by moving the arrow keys close to the alphanumeric keys and vertically aligning the Home key cluster. It follows from the format of the 75% keyboard but without the function keys.
This article will discuss the development of smaller keyboards from full-size keyboards to 65% keyboards. It will also discuss the benefits of incorporating the 65% keyboard in the workspace as well as the potential of the 65% keyboard as a daily driver.
The Transition to 65% Keyboards
The 65% keyboard came a long way from the full-size keyboard. It has streamlined the functions and features of the full-size keyboard to accommodate only the most essential features.
The full-size keyboard is a decades-old keyboard form factor containing 104 keys in total. It is composed of the alphanumeric cluster, function keys, arrow keys, Home key cluster, and the numpad. Full-sized keyboards contain all the features necessary to fulfill daily computer tasks for a wide range of users.
TKL or Tenkeyless keyboards are often called 80% as they contain everything in the full-sized version except for the numpad. This keyboard form factor strikes a balance between size and functionality, especially for people who rarely use the numpad.
The 75% keyboard is a more compact version of the TKL keyboard while still retaining all its features. The arrow keys and the Home cluster keys are moved closer to the alphanumeric keys to save space.
Looking at the trajectory of the development of keyboard sizes from the full-sized keyboard to the 75% keyboard will show how the 65% keyboard was made. It followed the design of the 75% keyboard in terms of connecting the arrow keys to the alphanumeric cluster and vertically aligning the Home key cluster.
The removal of the function keys is the primary difference between the 65% keyboard and the 75% keyboard. This also streamlines the keyboard to contain only the necessary functions, similar to the removal of the numpad in full-sized keyboards.
The 65% Keyboard Layouts
There are two main layouts for the 65% keyboard. The first layout features an ultra-compact design where-in the key gaps, or the distance between keyboard keys, are reduced to make the keyboard body smaller. It also features the blending of the arrow keys and the Home key cluster to the alphanumeric cluster similar to 75% keyboards.
The second layout of the 65% keyboard features a wider version that can be more comfortable for people used to standard key gaps of around 3mm. The arrow keys and the Home key clusters are also farther away from the alphanumeric cluster, more similar to the TKL than the 75% keyboard.
The 65% keyboard contains a total of 66-68 keys which includes the alphanumeric cluster, arrow keys, and the Home key cluster. For a lot of people, the 65% keyboard is the best keyboard size for balancing functionality and size.
Benefits of the 65% Keyboard
The 65% keyboard is distinctly smaller than the full-size and TKL keyboard form factors. It is not only visually appealing but also ergonomically beneficial, especially for people who use computers for several hours a day.
Hand strains due to non-ergonomic workspace equipment is supported by little scientific evidence. Meaning, there is no absolute scientific proof that full-sized keyboards are detrimental to the body.
However, people do report hand strains as a result of using full-size keyboards. Smaller keyboards, like the 65% keyboard, provide better structural dynamics to allow the body to perform typing tasks at a more natural stance.
The 65% keyboard is also easier to set up in the workspace as it’s smaller and easier to center and align with the monitor. It can help prevent certain people from experiencing repetitive strain syndrome or muscle and nerve pain caused by repetitive movements.
The 65% keyboard was also engineered for comfort and portability. A lot of 65% keyboards have removable and/or braided cables which make it easier to bring to work. Most of the 65% keyboards also have a USB Type-C port and comes with a detachable USB Type-C connector.
The detachable cable has become a staple in most of the smaller keyboards and helps in improving portability and creating an organized workspace. It is also lightweight when compared with larger form factors.
One of the major benefits of the 65% keyboard is that it is space-saving. While a lot of people value the extra features in full-size keyboards such as macro and media keys, a streamlined and compact keyboard has a distinct appeal for gamers and casual users alike.
Streamlining the features of the keyboard to the bare essentials leaves more room for wider mouse activity. This is good for gamers playing first-person shooting (FPS) games at lower dots per inch (DPI). It removes the need to angle the keyboard to provide more room for mouse movement.
Casual users can also benefit from the wider space when using a 65% keyboard. The extra space can be used for note-taking or adding other computer peripherals such as a USB hub.
Function Key Layers
Despite the removal of the media and macro keys in 65% keyboards, most of them have two layers of key combinations for accessing media and macro functions. These keyboards provide keycaps printed with the secondary functions which can be accessed when combined with the Fn key.
Streamlining the keyboard requires an assessment of the key functions that are indispensable in a keyboard. It also requires providing options for people to access the same features by using key combinations.
For many people, from gamers to casual users, the 65% keyboard contains all the essential keys to do their daily tasks without too much size-functionality disparity.
The 65% Keyboard as a Daily Driver
The 65% keyboard can be a daily driver for most people since it contains the most used features in the keyboard such as the alphanumeric keys, arrow keys, and Home key cluster. At the same time, it provides ergonomic comfort and ease of portability for people who want to bring their keyboards to work.
The 65% keyboard is also similar to the keyboard layout featured in laptops where the arrow keys and Home key clusters are placed beside the alphanumeric keys.
However, the ultra-compact version of 65% keyboards have non-standard keycap sizes, especially for the Shift key. Reducing the keycap sizes may be necessary to reduce the overall size of the keyboard when placing the arrow keys and the Home key cluster beside the alphanumeric keys.