CR4® - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion®


Previous in Forum: Discontinuous Audio Event Recording   Next in Forum: Automated SCADA Functional Testing
Close
Close
Close
12 comments
Active Contributor

Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 17
Good Answers: 2

Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/19/2017 7:01 AM

Back in the "good old days" computer keys did not lose their markings after a moderate period of use. Now, my own laptop has the painted on identities wearing off as I also see on a friend's computer. These two came from top brand manufacturers, which remain nameless to protect the identities of the guilty. Considering that techniques to achieve various products become simplified over time while simultaneously becoming more powerful, why have the methods of making keys not also improved so that proper, durable keys can be installed on device keyboards made now? If I buy a new laptop is there anybody supplying properly made keys or is guaranteed failure the trend in modern products? Interestingly, the rest of the computer does still function and until we get a modern, fast Internet connection (like those in the technically progressive far East countries) I feel little motivation to get a new laptop unless somebody delivers significant advantages over the old one.

Register to Reply
Pathfinder Tags: keyboard poor consruction
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Guru
Engineering Fields - Optical Engineering - Member Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Member Engineering Fields - Systems Engineering - Member

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Trantor
Posts: 5198
Good Answers: 620
#1

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/19/2017 11:47 AM

I hear ya.

Btw, you can buy a thin overlay for your specific laptop that has the key labels printed on it. I have a white-backlit keyboard on my laptop, and I've thought about getting a red translucent one for use at night.

The overlay has the added advantage of keeping dust, food particles, and liquids from getting into the electronics. (I know - as if anyone would be eating while using their computer!)

__________________
Whiskey, women -- and astrophysics. Because sometimes a problem can't be solved with just whiskey and women.
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Brecksville, OH, USA
Posts: 117
#4
In reply to #1

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/19/2017 2:41 PM

I use a colored backlit (LED) keyboard on my main Desktop and it is ideal; haven't used one on my laptops. No reason I shouldn't they are cheap enough.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 19237
Good Answers: 1125
#2

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/19/2017 1:56 PM

So just replace the keys...

https://www.replacementlaptopkeys.com/

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 858
Good Answers: 22
#3

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/19/2017 2:03 PM

They are called Injection-molded keys, where the contrasting color is actually part-of the key, not a thin film on its surface.

__________________
...and the Devil said: "...yes, but it's a DRY heat..!"
Register to Reply
Anonymous Poster #1
#5

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/20/2017 1:32 AM

Mac Book Pro: The keys lasted about 1 year so now anyone trying to use my laptop needs to know a keyboard. To replace the keyboard on a Mac is not cheap nor quick. They will simply tell you to buy a new laptop. Mac might be good, but it is still made in China.

Register to Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 17
Good Answers: 2
#6
In reply to #5

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/20/2017 3:26 AM

Thanks! This example is strong support for my argument. The technology is not really lost, it was thrown away, quite deliberately, because double-injected keys do cost a little more and because reduced lifetime (even of more expensive, premium computers) leads to more sales.

Register to Reply
Anonymous Poster #1
#9
In reply to #6

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/20/2017 10:31 AM

Name and shame them. They don't need protecting, we the buyer need protection from greedy scoundrels, and they just made more money out of me as I bought another Apple iphone SE today. Idiot! Oh Yes!

Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Australia - Member - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 1741
Good Answers: 201
#7

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/20/2017 5:08 AM

Yes, the old keys were two-shot injection moulded, but that meant hundreds of keys necessary to support multiple worldwide languages.

Modern keyboards only need 5 or six key variants and then once assembled the whole keyboard is transfer printed into the target country details. This is cheaper by orders of magnitude. For example, the square keys used for letters, numbers and such can now be assembled in any orientation (by machine) where the old keys had to be matched not only for location, but also for orientation.

Transfer printing can be very reliable though. The cost saving that has impacted you is maybe the final 0.5 cent difference in the purchase price of the quality ink that does not wear away. The really good inks etch into the plastic surface and even when abraded away, still leave a shadow in the plastic.

We used to print small switch assemblies for auto industry. Instead of handling and printing 6 buttons separately, we would print the assembly in a single machine cycle. SIGNIFICANT labour saving.

__________________
Just an Engineer from the land down under.
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Rochester NY metro area
Posts: 220
Good Answers: 18
#8

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/20/2017 8:26 AM

I use a toothpick and white appliance touch up paint to reletter any keys when they letters wear off. Only certain keys wear, no doubt due to my oddball typing technique, and even though my fingernails are short. The relettering lasts a few months for me. It's a cheap fix but still a PITA. I agree, there's no excuse for this. Bad products.

jhammond

Register to Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator United States - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Technical Fields - Education - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: East Greenbush, NY
Posts: 716
Good Answers: 12
#10

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/21/2017 9:01 AM

I share your pain -> http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/110648

My old corded Dell keyboard here at the office only lost its N, M and F paint in the last few months, reinforcing your observation that older equipment performed better than new stuff. I'd really like to know why.

Register to Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 17
Good Answers: 2
#11
In reply to #10

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

08/21/2017 10:30 AM

I am pretty sure the reason is simply, "do as cheaply as possible, and if it lasts past the end of the guarantee, that is good enough". I have wondered why the Keys are not premarked with a LASER to make slight cavities in which the paint gets some protection. LASER marking is a pretty inexpensive process, but maybe more durable than the current method is not desired.

Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Safety - ESD - New Member Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 50.390866N, 8.884827E
Posts: 17936
Good Answers: 196
#12

Re: Durable Keys on Laptops; Is That a Lost Art?

09/17/2017 11:15 AM

My Toshiba is almost 3 years old, keys still perfect.

It is also quite easy to replace most/some( ) keyboards with great products off ebay for example.

Cheap and easy!!

I checked for my Toshie some time ago and we are talking less than $20!!

Or buy a cheap Bluetooth or USB keyboard and use that! I recently bought a cheap keyboard with an RF/USB plug, for my Smart TV, again less that $20....including a separate mouse.

__________________
"What others say about you reveals more about them, than it does you." Anon.
Register to Reply
Register to Reply 12 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

70AARCuda (1); Andy Germany (1); Anonymous Poster (2); BestInShow (1); Dr. Harry (1); jhammond (1); Just an Engineer (1); RMM (2); SolarEagle (1); Usbport (1)

Previous in Forum: Discontinuous Audio Event Recording   Next in Forum: Automated SCADA Functional Testing

Advertisement