Tech connoisseurs eat them up
There are a number of keyboard styles available on the market, but the most popular is the “chiclet” which is characterized by flat tops and extra space between keys. It is the most common form of keyboard on personal computers and calculators, but how did it get that name and what makes it so popular? (And what does VAIO have to do with it)?
Believe it or not, the chiclet keyboard is actually named after the small, rectangular-shaped pieces of chewing gum.
Yes, they have a similar shape and size enabled by a bezel which fills the gaps between the keys. Considered low quality and a poor design choice when they arrived on the scene in the early 1980s, today the chiclet-style keyboard is ubiquitous. They are everywhere including the most sophisticated laptop keyboards.
The evolution of the chiclet-style has also been interesting in that there is still no one universal design since the size and shape of the keyboard can vary widely. Some keys create their own electrical circuit when pressed into the membrane while others have individual scissor switches that allow for a stable key and low profile.
Chiclet-style keyboards usually have several different layers to mimic the touch and feel found in membrane keyboards. This also allows enough force to be exerted when pressing the key to create a conductive trace or electrical flow, but also stops the flow when in its default position.
The biggest feature and benefit of the chiclet-style keyboard is its tactile feedback – the satisfying, tangible feeling when you press and release a key. Conceptually, such a feeling is supposed to increase typing accuracy by signaling to the operator that the keypress registered properly.
Due to their popularity and versatility, standalone chiclet-style keyboards are inexpensive and easily replaced. And they practically own the ultra-thin laptop and gaming market because they trap less dust and dirt and are easier to clean than traditional keyboards.
VAIO’s Innovative Role
Now, where does VAIO fit in? Guess which laptop made the world sit up and take notice that chiclets could be the thinnest, most elegant way to build a keyboard into ultraportable lightweight laptops. That’s right, it was VAIO with the VAIO X505, a laptop released in 2005. Until then, no one had any idea that the design of a laptop keyboard could make such a huge difference in typing experience. The rest is history.