Laptop Keyboard Lights

June 19, 2009

in computer hardware,mobile computing

by David Hakala

If you work on a laptop computer in low lighting conditions, you may wish you could see the keyboard better. In fact, many people want a laptop keyboard light. That’s why a keyboard light is built into some modern laptops.

Read your laptop’s documentation. If there is a keyboard light built into the machine, you will probably need special software from your laptop’s manufacturer to activate it.

If your laptop doesn’t have a keyboard light, don’t despair. There are plenty of add-on keyboard lights. Most of them plug into a USB port and draw power from your laptop. That’s OK when you’re running on A/C power, but how fast will a keyboard light drain your battery when running on battery power alone? The answer is “not very fast” because keyboard lights use ultra-low power LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps. LEDs produce extremely bright, pure light for the power they consume.

An add-on keyboard light for your laptop may be a good idea even if your laptop has a built-in keyboard light. My laptop has a single LED that does not light up the keyboard as well as I would like. It’s fixed in the upper edge of the screen’s molding and cannot be adjusted without tilting the screen. But a $20 add-on keyboard light has eight LEDs in a lamp on the end of a gooseneck flex cable, so I can have both the light and the screen at exactly the angles I want them.

Some people buy tiny halogen reading lamps designed to be clipped to the pages of a book for their laptops. They’re even cheaper than LED keyboard lights but they look rather “homemade.”

Of course, if you really want to be cool there’s the Bendi Illuminated Keyboard. It’s made of rollable rubber with flexible circuitry embedded in it. It connects to you laptop via a USB port and becomes a go-anywhere keyboard with backlit keys.

David Hakala has perpetrated technology tutorials since 1988 in addition to committing tech journalism, documentation, Web sites, marketing collateral, and profitable prose in general. His complete rap sheet can be seen at

{ 1 comment }

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