You will most likely come across tactile and non-tactile keyboards when shopping for a new keyboard. All keyboards, regardless of the type, fall within these two categories. Non-tactile keyboards are the type of keyboards found in stores. This leaves us with the question, what is a tactile keyboard, and does it offer any real benefit?
Tactile keyboards are essentially designed to give certain feedback when in actuation. Hence, when you press a tactile keyboard, there is usually haptic feedback, such as a click or snap, letting you know which key you have actuated.
Tactile switches are commonly used in mechanical keyboards. Because of their tactile bump, they provide reasonable feedback when a key is pressed. Some tactile keyboards may even produce sounds that give a satisfying feel to the typist.
To understand more about tactile keyboards, keep reading this article.
What Are Used To Make a Tactile Keyboard?
Unlike a non-tactile keyboard, a tactile keyboard is made with a slightly different type of material. There are different types of tactile keyboards offering various kinds of feedback. Below we look at four combinations of materials used in making a tactile keyboard.
Carbon Contact With a Silicon Keypad
This type of tactile keyboard is designed to mount the silicone keypad on top of a flexible printed circuit. And at the base of the silicone are plungers with carbon pills or printed conductive carbon. So, when a user pushes a key on this keyboard, it produces feedback as though when the webbing around the key collapses. In simpler terms, it makes snap feedback. And at the same time, the carbon gets in contact with the lower circuit, which causes the key to be actuated. Interestingly, when the key returns to its original position when the finger is removed from the key, it will be actuated again.
Metal Dome With a Silicon Keypad
Another type of keyboard you should be aware of is this one with a metal dome and a silicone keypad. It is perhaps one of the most commonly used actuated keypads. For example, this tactile keyboard is found on remote controls, calculators, etc. Its design is such that a metal dome is placed between the rigid or flexible circuit and a silicon plunger. So, when you press a key with this type of tactile design, it feels and produces a click actuation. And even when the key is released, it makes the click sound.
Poly Dome With Membrane Switch
Manufacturers often go with the poly dome and membrane switch design whenever they want to produce tactile keyboards in large quantities. Manufacturers prefer this type of tactile keyboard design because it doesn’t cost much.
This type of tactile keyboard design is such that a molded polyester dome, otherwise known as the poly dome, is formed into the upper circuit or the graphic layer. Because the individual domes do not need to be placed for each key, no other materials are added, which is why it is so cost-efficient.
Metal Dome With Membrane Switch
In some tactile keyboards, manufacturers use a metal dome instead of a poly dome. The metal is preferably stainless steel on purpose because of its tensile strength and ability to withstand rust which is not uncommon in keypads. Additionally, the stainless steel used in this tactile keyboard provides a much longer actuation life and a better feel than a poly dome keyboard.
The feedback provided by the tactile keyboard represents the type of material used in making it.
Do Tactile Keyboards Have Any Real Benefits?
If you are new to tactile keyboards, it is understandable if you are wondering what makes them special. There are several benefits, but below are two irresistible benefits of tactile keyboards that make many people choose them.
Improves Typing Accuracy
One of the main benefits of having a tactile switch on your keyboard is that it helps to improve typing accuracy. Unlike other keyboards where a key is pressed, no actuation is felt unless a function occurs, which can be confusing. However, on a tactile keyboard, an actuation is sensed when a key is pressed, letting you know that the key has been pressed successfully.
Apart from the benefit of avoiding double actuation, a tactile keyboard also gives the typist a particular user experience like none other. For most consumer products, the user experience is critical as most people enjoy the feel of the keypad when it is actuated. Most users would agree that the sense of the actuation of tactile feedback is naturally enjoyable.
As you can see from this article, you should be able to tell by now the difference between a tactile keyboard and a non-tactile keyboard. As we discussed the benefits of a tactile keyboard, this does not mean a non-tactile keyboard is completely unbeneficial. One of the benefits of getting a non-tactile keyboard is that they are relatively cheaper. Apart from cost, a tactile keyboard might just be right for you as they offer a much better feel than its counterpart.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many keyboard manufacturers use tactile keypad designs and other keypads on a single keyboard. This type of configuration is common on mechanical keyboards. On some mechanical keyboards, you may find a tactile switch, a clicky switch, and even a linear switch. Most of the time, you can differentiate these keypads based on the switch’s color. Tactile keypads are often brown or clear.
One of the main reasons people get a hot-swappable keyboard is because of the switch feel. A hot-swappable keyboard can quickly transform your typing experience on the same keyboard. You must invest long hours desoldering the switches with a traditional mechanical keyboard to change its keys. With a hot-swappable keyboard, you only need a set of different switches to replace the original one.