A silent keyboard is a keyboard which is designed to operate silently, or as quietly as possible, depending on how it is manufactured. There are a number of reasons to use a silent keyboard, ranging from a desire to be able to use a keyboard in sensitive situations without causing distractions, to a need to keep overall sound in a workplace low. Some people are simply irritated by the sound of typing, in which case a silent keyboard is an easy way to ease irritated nerves. Silent keyboards can also be useful in shared living or working situations where the sound of a keyboard can become grating for other people.
When the keys on a silent keyboard are activated, they depress silently, coming into contact with the electronics of the keyboard and causing characters to appear on the screen. Materials like rubber and silicone are often used to make silent keyboards, since they are soft, and they therefore do not click or clatter while in use. Silent keyboards made from padded hard plastics are also available, although they tend to be quiet, more than silent.
In strict point of fact, it is possible to make noise with a silent keyboard. For typists who really pound on the keyboard, a silicone or rubber keyboard will still make some noise, even if it is just muffled thumps as the vibration of the hands is transmitted to the surface that the keyboard is on. However, the noise will be greatly reduced when compared to a conventional keyboard, as the keys themselves should make no sound.
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A number of styles of silent keyboard are available on the market, ranging from very simplistic silent keyboards which are also designed to be portable to full-function programmable keyboards which offer a range of configurations and options for users. As a general rule, the more features a keyboard has, the more expensive it will be, and wireless silent keyboards are also more expensive, since extra equipment is required for them.
Electronics stores are a good source for silent keyboards, as are specialty companies. Individuals who are very concerned about noise may want to arrange for a test of a silent keyboard, or peruse consumer reviews to get an idea of what people think of the keyboard in actual operation. Alternatively, astute observers could take note of particularly quiet or silent keyboards they encounter, and make inquiries about make and model.