Certainly, transcriptionists type for a living and a keyboard is indeed a vital tool of the trade. In fact, other than your skills at typing, there is literally nothing more important than a high quality keyboard.
Typing speed, typing practice and typing accuracy go hand in glove with a good keyboard. A sub par keyboard that has heavy keys, unsatisfactory actuation points for the keys, uncomfortable key design, low durability etc can all affect your typing speed and accuracy, which in turn can hinder your transcribing work.
A bad keyboard can also cause fatigue and pain in your wrists and thus further damage your professional duties as well as your endeavor to improve your typing skills.
In this article, we will review some of the quality options that stand as the best keyboards for transcription. We will also look at some of the significant aspects and characteristics you should consider in them.
Transcription Keyboards Compared
| Microsoft Surface |
|Apple Magic |
Tactile & Silent
List of Best Keyboards for Transcription in 2021
The following are highly recommended and popular keyboard among typists and transcriptionists.
- Microsoft Surface Keyboard – Chiclet Keys – Recommended Keyboard for Transcription
- Apple Magic Keyboard – Full Sized Keyboard for MacOS
- Logitech Ergo K860 – Ergonomic Keyboard for Transcription
- Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic – Budget Ergonomic Keyboard
- Logitech G613 – Wireless Mechanical Keyboard for Transcription
- Razer BlackWidow Elite – Best Mechanical Keyboard for Typing
1. Microsoft Surface Keyboard – Chiclet Keys – Recommended Keyboard for Transcription
If you are looking for a minimal keyboard that is compact, elegant and offers a great typing experience, then we highly recommend this.
While this may not be a keyboard suitable for productivity or gaming as it lacks features like multimedia controls, programmable buttons or even backlight, if you are looking for some of the most comfortable and streamlined keys on a keyboard, then we highly recommend this.
The keyboard features scissor switches with a very low profile. Hence, the keys have a decent tactile feedback that generate little noise and have low actuation points. This in turn can improve your speed.
This is a wireless keyboard and connects both via USB receiver as well as via Bluetooth.
Since it connects via Bluetooth, you can also use it on your Android devices.
All in all, if you want to make a beeline for one of the most comfortable keys, then this is the best keyboard for transcription.
It is unfortunate, however, that it does not feature a palm rest.
2. Apple Magic Keyboard – Full Sized Keyboard for MacOS
One of the most comfortable keyboards in the market, Dedicated for MacOS.
Next we have the Apple Magic Keyboard and there is no keyboard more synonymous with typing comfort as this.
This is the keyboards that others try to mimic. The perfect key strokes on this. The feather light presses and actuation force and just the right distance between the keys makes this the epitome of typing comfort.
Unfortunately, like they keyboard above, this too lacks productivity and comfort features like a palm rest, programmable buttons or backlight.
Also, this keyboard is only compatible with MacOS.
Again, the hallmark feature of this keyboard are the keys themselves. Other than that, this too is a wireless keyboard however unlike most, this is a rechargeable keyboard and does not require batteries.
This too features scissor switches with a low profile key design.
So in short, if you are an Apple user, this is the best keyboard for transcription in our opinion for you.
3. Logitech Ergo K860 – Ergonomic Keyboard for Transcription
Next up, we have one of the most recommended ergonomic keyboard for transcription and typing.
This is a premium keyboard and much more expensive compared to the rest of the ergonomic keyboards out there, however, it does have a few features that make it an excellent deal.
For starters, unlike most ergonomic keyboards, this does not feature the large rubber dome switches and instead feature the low profile, tactile and more comfortable scissor switches.
Secondly, this keyboard does not take the comfort factor lightly. It has one of the most comfortable wrist rest and the keys themselves are scooped in order to facilitate precision.
The keyboard connects wirelessly via both Bluetooth as well as via USB receiver.
Again, what matters here is both the ergonomic design as well as the keys design. While an ergonomic keyboard is easy to find, the same cannot be said about the quality of the keys. And the quality of the keys is a prime ingredient for the success of any transcriptionist.
Hence if comfort, ergonomics, and quality keys is what you want, then this could be the best keyboard for transcription for you.
4. Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic – Budget Ergonomic Keyboard
An affordable high quality ergonomic keyboard.
Here we have another ergonomic product, the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard. We have selected this for those who want an ergonomic keyboard but at a cheaper price tag.
One of the prime difference between this and the Logitech Ergo K860 above is that this does not feature scissor switches. Instead, it offers rubber dome switches that are large, have no tactile feedback and can damage your typing speed due to their heavier nature.
Another important thing to note is that it includes the Numpad as a separate device. It is not attached o the keyboard. This makes the overall size of the main keyboard more compact and easy to access.
Furthermore, it features a cushioned palm wrest and connects wirelessly through the provided USB receiver.
5. Logitech G613 – Wireless Mechanical Keyboard for Transcription
A high quality wireless keyboard with mechanical keys.
Are you specifically looking for a mechanical keyboard for transcription but you prefer wireless connectivity to declutter your essential deskspace, then this one of the most recommended keyboards.
Mechanical keyboards are highly preferred by a vast range of people from typists all the way to gamers. They have dommed keys, but the actual response of the key is dependent upon the switch type.
This wireless mechanical keyboard employs Romer G Tactile Switches . Compared to the Romer G Linear switches, the Tactile switches featured here are a bit loud and can be nuisance if you share the workspace with others. So that should be noted.
However, as far as the typing experience go, you get the benefit of low actuation point, low force needed and a tactile feedback that can improve, particularly, your Touch Typing experience.
The keyboard connects through both Bluetooth and USB receiver. One important feature to note is that this offer 6 dedicated macro buttons.
While you won’t be needing them for transcription, these are actually quite helpful when you need to program the buttons to perform certain commands on particular software or games.
With a response rate of 1 ms when connecting through the provided USB receiver, you get a superfast connection to your computer. This is beneficial for fast typing as you transcribe because a faster response time means that the PC will have little issues registering very high words per minute.
On sub par wireless keyboards, registering very high WPM can be an issue.
Other convenient features include a wrist rest and buttons for media control and volume.
6. Razer BlackWidow Elite – Best Mechanical Keyboard for Typing
A gaming grade mechanical keyboard but with the best typing experience.
If there is one mechanical keyboard that stands out the most in terms of typing, it is the Razer BlackWidow Elite with its Orange switches.
There are reviews upon reviews that vouch to the typing experience on this keyboard.
When it comes to typing, the BlackWidow Elite acquitted itself well, allowing me to type at 111 words per minute with eight errors on TypingTest.com. – TomsGuide
The proprietary orange switch on this are silent, which is great for office environments, but also have a tactile feedback.
Being a gaming grade keyboard, this does have aggressive looks and may not be suited for those looking for a minimal keyboard.
The keyboard features customizable backlight, media control and more importantly, a comfortable wrist rest.
Unfortunately, like most quality keyboards, this is expensive too.
Keyboard is One Part of the Equation, Practice is the Other for Transcription
A keyboard is only as good as the user. You can buy the most premium of keyboards out there but still fail to transcribe audio hours efficiently.
Therefore, keyboard and practice go hand in hand. When you get a new keyboard, particularly, you must spend some time practicing and reaching a respectable level of typing.
The two essential metrics are
- Words Per Minute (WPM)
60 words per minute is a good place to start with. However, professional transcriptionists can reach speeds of more than 100+ WPM.
You may also need to learn faster techniques of typing like Touch Typing where you do not look at the keyboard to type.
What to Look For in a Keyboard for Transcription?
A keyboard essentially should be able to facilitate the audio hours into typed transcription of the audio.
A professional, for instance may be able to transcribe a single audio hours in three hours, however, to do they must have all their bases covered.
This includes typing speed, and accuracy all of which are highly dependent NOT just on your typing practice, but also on the keyboard that you have.
Light, Soft and Responsive Keys
As a transcriptionist, you need precision and quick response from the keys while typing.
Thus, we advise getting a keyboard with soft and responsive keys that need a light touch to press.
Not all keyboards are created equally and the prime factor that determine the switch/characteristics are as follows particularly for transcription.
- Actuation Point – The point where the keyboard register a key when it is pressed press. It is also known as the actuation distance
- Actuation Force: The amount of force that you need to press the button. This depends a lot on the weight of the keys.
- Distance Between Keys
These three are critical factors that can determine the speed and the accuracy of the keyboard for you.
For instance, a shallow actuation point and low actuaion force needed means that your typing speed can be decreased. However a low actuation point can also damage your accuracy due to unwanted key registers.
The distance between keys, in another instance, is also very important. Too close to each other and you would be accidentally pressing the wrong buttons.
Rubber Dome vs Chicklet (Scissor) Switches
When it comes to switches on a membrane keyboard, there are two common types: Rubber Dome and Chiclet.
The rubber domes switches are large and heavy and they are found on traditional keyboards where as the Chiclet are shallow and lighter. They are typically found on laptops, but also available on standalone keyboards.
If speed is what you need and you prefer a tactile feedback than we recommend getting a chiclet keyboard.
Chiclet keyboards make use of keys in the form of small squares or rectangles. Therefore, they require a short travel distance as well as force.
The bigger keys on the membrane keyboard may fall short in terms of typing speed and hence large Dome shaped keys should only be opted for if you are planning on getting a mechanical keyboard.
Is Mechanical Keyboard Good for Transcription?
Unlike the normal membrane based keyboards where the keys basically sit on top of plastic pressure pads on a single plastic membrane, Mechanical keyboards, on the other hand, have individual switches.
The first and the most obvious difference between the two is that the membrane keyboard gives almost no tactile feedback where as a mechanical keyboard does.
The other benefit with mechanical keyboards is that you get to choose the type of switch you want. The switch option can include:
- Actuation Force: How much heavy do you want the switches to be
- Actuation Distance: How far do you want the strokes to travel to register a click
- Feedback: Silent/linear, tactile or clicky
Depending upon the environment, you can choose how loud the feedback is. For instance, if you are in an office you may not want to get loud clicky mechanical switches so that you do not disturb others around you.
Whether the mechanical keyboard is a good fit for you or not all depends upon your preference. A good way to know if the mechanical keyboard is right for you is to go to nearest vendor and try out the different switches for your self.
If you search it online, you may find differing opinion. Some find their Word Per Minutes increase drastically when using a mechanical keyboard, others find no difference at all.
This is because there are a lot of variables to consider. If you compare a mechanical keyboard to a cheap $10 membrane keyboard then obviously the difference in typing experience would be huge.
However, if you compare the typing experience on a mechanical keyboard with a premium membrane keyboard like the Apple Magic Keyboard, then you may as well find the opposite to be true.
Precision on Mechanical Keyboards
One factor where many find mechanical keyboards to winners in terms of typing is accuracy.
Normal keyboards have what you call a “mushy” feeling where you do not feel the key presses. On mechanical keyboards, you actually get to feel the key presses. This can improve your typing accuracy.
If you are touch typists or a touch transcriptions and you do not rely on the sense of sight to find the keys, mechanical keyboards are the winners.
Again, the feedback mechanism is what allows them to be great for touch typing.
The Ergonomic Keyboard
A variant of the keyboard that’s also available is an ergonomic keyboard. Basically an ergonomic keyboard makes you position your hands and wrists naturally and thus provides you with a comfortable typing.
Ergonomic keyboards usually come with a noticeable split in the middle or have a contoured design.
They are a healthier option as compared to other keyboards and protect you from typing related strain and injuries.
However, choosing ergonomic keyboard for the purpose of alleviating a health condition should be first consulted with a doctor.
One important feature that we recommend for a comfortable experience on any keyboard is a good palm rest. Many keyboards, unfortunately, do not offer this particularly the compact ones.
Compatibility And Other Features
You also need to make sure that the keyboard you purchase is compatible with the device you use. This is because some keyboards work on only one specific platform such as macOS or Windows.
However, it’s not uncommon to find a keyboard that supports connection to multiple platforms. Many wireless models from known manufacturers have this capability.
Keep in mind that you will find many wireless keyboards that give almost the same performance as the wired ones. However, you can also opt for a wired USB keyboard if you need a stable connection with your computer.
Apart from providing convenient, smooth and accurate typing, there are other notable features you can find in keyboards. These include a palm rest, buttons for media controls and volume, and programmable keys.
These features are always useful while working and helps in optimizing your workflow as a transcriptionist.
As transcription is a demanding occupation especially in a niche like medical, it becomes equally important to invest in a capable keyboard that pays off with satisfying performance.
We hope that this article on the best keyboards for transcription would help in getting a convenient accessory as per your requirements. This would enable you to work with accuracy while staying completely focused.
We recommend you choose the keyboard that ideally meets your needs and is within your budget.