What is a Chiclet Keyboard?

A traditional computer keyboard has thick plastic keys situated close together in sections of a larger frame. The keys themselves are angled at the sides, creating a wider base at that top. A chiclet keyboard – also known as an island-style keyboard – uses thin, well-defined keys that are slightly separated from each other. A plastic overlay covers the gaps between the keys, creating a smooth, virtually seamless surface. The overall effect of a chiclet keyboard is flatter and more space efficient than a traditional keyboard.

Chiclet keyboards are easier to clean.

Technophiles often debate the merits of a chiclet keyboard, named after Cadbury Adams’ square chewing gum Chiclets®. The pro-chiclet camp will argue that key spacing limits the potential for typos, as a user is less likely to press a nearby key by mistake. Chiclet keyboards are also much easier to clean than traditional keyboards because without the empty spaces between the keys, no dust or crumbs can get trapped underneath. Most chiclet keyboards are also spill-proof. While a misplaced coffee cup can spell the end of a traditional keyboard, a chiclet keyboard is highly resistant to such mishaps.

The spacing between keys on chiclet keyboards limits the potential for typos.

Fans of traditional keyboards say that hygienic considerations and aesthetic value aren’t enough to make them change. Some find that a chiclet keyboard fatigues more easily, because the user must go a little farther with each key. Others claim that your overall typing speed is adversely affected, especially for those who rely on typing, although this could simply be a result of getting used to new equipment. Some are also of the opinion that chiclet keyboards are less responsive because the keys have less recoil than the chunkier keys on a traditional keyboard.

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Chilet keyboards are becoming more and more popular in notebooks, netbooks and laptops, as of 2011. A new laptop is much more likely to have a chiclet keyboard than a traditional keyboard. Laptop makers, understanding some people’s resistance to the chiclet keyboard, are working to make their chiclet keyboards stand out from the crowd. The height and curve of the keys are often adjusted to a tiny scale to give the keyboard the best possible tactile feel.

Laptops aren’t the only place to find chiclet keyboards in use. The growing popularity of chiclet keyboards spurred the creation of wireless chiclet keyboards, which can be used with desktop computers. They have not yet become as popular with desktop users as traditional keyboards, but the trend is growing towards a flat, spacious keyboard design.

A chiclet keyboard.

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