So what is a ‘chiclet’ keyboard anyway?

April 19, 2009 at 11:17 am

Chiclet gumThis morning we have a guest contribution from reader, Igor Igorski, who looks at the chiclet keyboard and where the term originates from.

With many developments in the fast changing world of electronics, consumers have been introduced to a new word or rather jargon, the “chiclet” keyboard. In recent months the term has appeared more and more in the context of notebooks and netbooks. But what is it exactly and why is it called “chiclet”?

The keyboard has been around since the early era of computing and during that time it has not changed much over the course of its history. The number of keys has increased to incorporate new functions such as the Windows key (a key to launch the Start menu in Microsoft Windows). With the introduction of notebooks the keyboard was flattened to be as slim and light as possible. For smaller notebooks (and netbooks) the individual keys have been reduced to fit as many keys as possible on the keyboard. This in turn makes it more difficult to type on especially for those who touch-type.

Apple was one of the first companies to change the design of their keyboard to give it that extra touch of style. This was applied to their desktop keyboards as well as their notebooks. The difference is that they individual keys no longer have slanted edges but rather straight edges which make squares. As a result there is more space between each squared key. These squares are known commonly as “chiclets” and hence we talk about “chiclet” keyboards.

This word refers to the shape which is similar to the packaging of Adams Chiclets chewing gum. People started to use this reference and very soon it was adopted mainstream! Today more and more computer manufacturers are adopting chiclet keyboards in their small notebooks and netbooks such as Sony and ASUS with their Eee PC 1000HE model. Indeed, Asus have even been refreshing its older netbook lines with this new style of keyboard (as seen with the Eee PC 1000HA). The chiclet keyboards may not suit everyone, but it looks like they are becoming a staple of netbook technology both now and in the future.

Chiclet Keyboard


13,948 Responses to “So what is a ‘chiclet’ keyboard anyway?”

  1. Roundy said:
    April 19th, 2009 3:07 PM

    Love this article. It was difficult for me at the beginning to use the “chicklet Keyboard” but now im used to it….thanks for this article.

  2. zorgaliscious said:
    April 19th, 2009 3:28 PM

    No wonder I always get so hungry when I’m typing on this thing

  3. Michael said:
    April 19th, 2009 8:10 PM

    Very nice article indeed!

    The Apple MacBook chiclet keyboards are awesome in my opinion. They look very nice and are easy to type on.

  4. Jamie said:
    June 21st, 2009 2:07 AM

    I love the Apple Macbook chiclet keyboards. They are very attractive and makes typing easy and comfortable.

  5. Steve said:
    January 18th, 2010 7:06 PM

    Sony invented the chiclet keyboard, Apple popularized it…

  6. Juan said:
    February 11th, 2010 11:28 AM

    Actually, the Sinclair Spectrum used a Chiclet keyboard, and that was before Sony and Apple decided to mainstream it.

  7. Daniel said:
    March 27th, 2010 9:37 PM

    Chiclet keyboar are unconfortable, anti-ergonomic, unproductive … if you really uses the keyboard, like a developer or analist, or other kind of typer work … it’s the worst of the worst.
    But for the “reduce cost” deptartmet of notebooks manufacture companies are the best of the best 😉
    And the incredible is that the not only try to lies us for convice us that is better this kind of keyboar …the worst is that some people are believing it and another problem is that all manufactures are adopting this solution, and we have not alternative options to chose …
    Why don’t offers the alternative, like the CPU, RAM, chasis colour ?? I answer this … because it would have to eat all Chiclet keyboards, since a large propor people would opt for the normal keyboard option.
    GRRRRRR stupids chiclet keyboards!!!!

  8. Troy said:
    August 6th, 2010 7:22 PM

    “The keyboard has been around since the early era of computing and during that time it has not changed much over the course of its history.”

    This is plain wrong. Early “chicklet” keyboards mere made out of a single sheet of rubber that comprised both the keycaps and the upper key contacts, leading to a squishy “dead flesh” tactile response. While I’m no fan of the recently evolved “chicklet” keyboards, they are different in design and mechanism from the old ’80s home computer style keyboards and are a vast improvement.

  9. Alexandre said:
    October 16th, 2010 5:41 PM

    First I’d say there is an important mistake in the above article:
    “As a result there is more space between each squared key. ”
    Isn’t it exactly the opposite, at least if you consider the top faces of the key?

    You just can’t touch type on chiclet keyboards if you don’t have slim fingers, because you constantly hit several keys at the same time.

    As Daniel perfectly put it, the cost reduction comes first, and then the marketing department even manages to convince the ones that have no serious use of such a computer, including quite a few journalists and reviewers, using biased arguments and aesthetic or “style” considerations.

    It is exactly the same story as with the wide screens.

  10. Jade said:
    December 5th, 2010 8:38 AM

    When I first heard the term chiclet keyboard, I assumed it was named after the gum — thanks for confirming this.

    We all have individual preferences when it comes to keyboards (and life in general!). I am a longtime typist — used to work as both a typist and a secretary. I just bought a new laptop and ruled out many models because i did not like the touch/snap of the keyboard. I do a lot of word processing so the keyboard is one of the first things I look at. To give you an idea of how much typing I do, I wore some of the letters off on the keyboard of my previous laptop, which was a sturdy business laptop.

    My new laptop has a chiclet keyboard and I find it very comfortable to type on. I agree that there is more space between the keys than a standard desktop keyboard, which took a bit of getting used to. I disagree with some of the comments posted above. — I am a touch typist, don’t consider myself to have slim fingers, and I have had no problem typing on it for hours at a time. If anything, it makes typing — which I already enjoy — even more enjoyable so that I find myself not wanting to stop.

  11. maria said:
    January 9th, 2011 12:58 PM

    Chiclet keyboards are painful and very difficult to use. I have arthritis in hands, but can still touch-type on ‘normal’ keyboard. This chiclet pad I am using here means that i join the “one fingered school of typing”… And still cannot hit all of the keys hard enough to register the letter… No room for long nails either – must be a mans idea? :0/

  12. Anon said:
    October 29th, 2011 12:31 AM

    I have a chronic pain condition and these keyboards are awful, the the layout it’s has also changed. “\” is where Alt should be. Pressing “Alt F4” is different. Some moron place the Home & End ends on function, and I need them all the time.

    I would type more but I’m in pain.