In the world of forex trading, success is often determined by a trader’s ability to make quick and informed decisions. To achieve this, traders not only need experience and expertise but also the right tools. One such tool that has become indispensable for many professional traders is the forex trading keyboard. In this article, we will explore the history, features, and advantages of forex trading keyboards, as well as how traders can choose the right keyboard to enhance their trading experience.
The Origins of Trading Keyboards
Keyboards have been around long before the advent of computers, with their roots traceable to typewriters and telegraphs. However, the specialized trading keyboard as we know it today has a more recent origin. The first trading keyboards were developed by Bloomberg in 1981, long before the widespread use of the internet in trading. These keyboards were manually assembled and connected to control rooms via cables and telephone lines. They featured a trackball, which was a precursor to the modern mouse wheel, allowing traders to navigate terminals quickly.
As trading evolved, trading keyboards also underwent significant changes. In the 1990s, they closely resembled regular user keyboards, but with color-highlighted hotkeys. In the early 2000s, they gained advanced features such as biometric authentication, message boxes, multimedia controls, and more. Today, modern Bloomberg keyboards resemble standard user devices, but they incorporate standardized mechanisms to cater to ever-changing customer preferences.
The Rise of Specialized Trading Keyboards
The early days of trading on computers had relatively modest functionality, and traders primarily used a mouse for placing orders and other operations. However, as trading became more complex and automated, specialized trading keyboards emerged. These keyboards featured individual functions assigned to each key, allowing traders to execute various commands with exceptional speed and precision. Experienced traders now utilize up to 75 hotkeys and key combinations, enabling them to trade quickly and effectively.
One interesting consideration when it comes to trading keyboards is the omission of keys that can put computers to sleep or turn them off. This precaution is taken because accidentally pressing such keys could result in traders losing all their work. Some traders even opt for gamepads and programmable gaming mice, which can be customized to meet their trading needs.
The Power of Customization in Trading Keyboards
One distinguishing feature of trading keyboards is their remarkable ability to be customized. These keyboards, often referred to as POS (Point of Sale) keyboards, serve various purposes beyond trading, including automoted trading and industrial production. POS keyboards differ from regular keyboards in two significant ways:
- Purpose: POS keyboards are mainly used for executing specific commands rather than typing.
- Key Configuration: The keys on POS keyboards are not pre-assigned to specific code sequences but are added during the configuration process.
The functionality of each key on a trading keyboard depends on the programming done during its setup. Each key can execute a specific sequence of actions, with the primary goal being to minimize the number of keypresses required to perform various commands. Moreover, these keyboards can be configured in multiple layers, allowing one key to perform several functions. This feature is particularly useful when multiple users share a keyboard or when expanded functionality is needed.
Hotkeys: The Heart of Trading Keyboards
For many traders, hotkeys are the essence of trading keyboards. These accelerator keys allow traders to execute specific commands swiftly without constantly navigating through menus. While most traders use the F1-F12 keys as their primary hotkeys, they can also be combined with Shift and Ctrl to switch between different trading functions. However, it’s important to avoid hotkeys that involve the Alt key, as certain Windows combinations cannot be changed and may inadvertently close trading windows.
Trading platforms themselves often support a set of hotkeys to streamline the trading process. These accelerator keys are designed to speed up operations within the trading platform, allowing users to execute commands efficiently. Traders can typically find a list of supported hotkeys on the official website of their trading platform, which can be printed and kept nearby for quick reference.
Categories of Hotkeys and Their Functions
Hotkeys can be grouped into various categories, each serving a specific function within the trading environment. Understanding these categories can help traders better navigate and utilize their trading keyboards:
Chart Control Keys
- These keys enable traders to move forward and backward on the chart, view price history, and monitor price changes.
- Keys like the Ruler allow traders to measure distances or wavelengths on the chart.
- Combining keys permit traders to overlay multiple indicators or tools on the chart.
Chart View Settings Keys
- These keys control how the chart is displayed, allowing traders to choose between multi-window and full-screen modes, as well as different chart styles such as candles, bars, or lines.
- Tab keys are used to open various documents, the help center, create or edit trading advisors, adjust chart settings, and perform other essential operations.
- These keys are used for setting Stop Loss and Take Profit levels, identifying support and resistance levels, and more.
Additionally, traders can create custom shortcuts within their trading platforms. In the Navigator window, users can select specific functions and assign hotkeys to streamline their trading experience further.
Choosing the Right Forex Trading Keyboard
Selecting the right trading keyboard is crucial, especially for traders who spend extensive hours in front of their computers. Intraday traders and scalpers, in particular, should pay close attention to several key aspects when choosing a keyboard:
- Consider the available desk space to determine whether a full-size or compact keyboard is more suitable.
- Smaller keyboards may require more effort to customize the keys but can save desk space.
- Ensure the keyboard is ergonomic and comfortable for prolonged use.
- Some traders opt for unconventional ergonomic keyboards or split keyboards to reduce strain on the wrists and hands.
- If you work in quiet environments, consider membrane keyboards to reduce typing noise. However, be aware of their limitations in handling simultaneous keypresses.
- Mechanical keyboards are preferred by traders who require precision and do not mind the audible keypress sound.
- Look for keyboards with built-in illumination for low-light conditions, wrist rests for ergonomic support, and compatibility with various operating systems if needed.
- Some traders may require keyboards that can connect to multiple devices, particularly if they use multiple monitors or computers for trading.
Professional Trading Keyboards: Worth the Investment?
While many traders find regular keyboards with hotkeys sufficient for their needs, professional trading keyboards offer distinct advantages. These specialized keyboards can be customized with a tailored set of keys and programmed to execute complex commands with a single keystroke. They often feature impact-resistant materials, capable of withstanding up to 50 million keypresses, making them durable choices for active traders.
Some notable professional trading keyboards include:
1. Keyboard Trader by Bionic Trader Systems
- Enables users to manage risks, trade multiple positions, and place orders with a single keypress.
- Customizable keys allow traders to configure their ideal set of functions.
- Offers the ability to program sequences of actions for efficient trading.
2. WEY MK06/RAY06 Keyboard
- Equipped with small touchscreens integrated into the keyboard, enabling control of multiple computers from one keyboard.
- Modular design allows users to configure keys according to their preferences.
3. TradeMaster Keyboard
- Offers essential trading functions with dedicated keys for buying, selling, and adjusting position sizes.
- Provided free of charge for users of the TradeMaster trading platform.
While professional trading keyboards offer unmatched functionality, they come at a premium price, often around $300 or more. This cost may deter some traders from investing in such devices.
Conclusion: Enhancing Forex Trading with the Right Keyboard
In the fast-paced world of forex trading, having the right tools can make a significant difference. Forex trading keyboards, with their customizable hotkeys and specialized features, empower traders to execute trades swiftly and efficiently. Whether you opt for a regular keyboard with customized hotkeys or invest in a professional trading keyboard, the key is to find a setup that enhances your trading experience and suits your individual needs. Ultimately, a well-chosen keyboard can be a valuable asset for traders looking to gain an edge in the competitive world of forex trading.
Self-confessed Forex Geek spending my days researching and testing everything forex related. I have many years of experience in the forex industry having reviewed thousands of forex robots, brokers, strategies, courses and more. I share my knowledge with you for free to help you learn more about the crazy world of forex trading! Read more about me.