What is a chiclet keyboard / gum keyboard?
A chiclet keyboard / gum keyboard is a category of keyboards that uses keys in the shape of small squares or rectangles with straight sides and rounded corners. In most cases, the gaps between the keys are filled with perforated bezels. The keyboard uses thin, neatly cut keys that are slightly spaced from each other. The chiclet keyboard is popular in laptops, netbooks, and is prominently used in Apple MacBooks.
Chiclet keyboards are also known as island keyboards or simply island keyboards.
The chiclet keyboard gets its name because of the style of the keys used, which are similar to chiclets, an American brand of chewing gum. The underlying technology used by chiclet keyboards varies widely. In many cases, the keys on the chiclet keyboard are part of the support membrane and tend to deform when touched to complete the electrical contact. Some chiclet keyboards avoid the top membrane and spacer layers and have a conductive coating on the bottom of the keys.
There are several advantages associated with chiclet keyboards. One of the main advantages lies in the fact that the keys have a slightly larger surface area than molded keys and therefore have less chance of hitting the wrong keys. The overall look and feel of a chiclet keyboard is more space-saving and flatter than a conventional keyboard. Also compared to other keyboards, maintenance and cleaning with chiclet keyboards are much easier.
There are critics of the chiclet keyboard. In some states, overall typing speed is slower due to the lack of sculpting to guide the fingers. For the same reason, some claim that chiclet keyboards tire the user and are less responsive in the long run compared to other types of keyboards.