What Are Optical Keyboard Switches, And How Do They Work?

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anbello262

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I really hope that optical switches make keyboards silent. I have not, and will not get any mechanical keyboard in my main PC because I hate that it sounds like a typewriter.


Also, I'm really looking forward to analog input from keyboards. This should have existed 15 years ago. This will make me consider a high end keyboard.



And lastly, I actually like the fact that they are waterproof. Many people have suffered a lit because of spilling a coke on the keyboard.
 

xyriin

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The noise isn't bad unless you go with blue switches. I've used rubber dome keyboards worse than mechanicals for noise. Also if you spill coke you're still going to have a major issue as it's not a clear liquid like water and WILL affect the on/off state of the optical sensor.

 
This won't help with NOISE control. The mechanical sensor can be essentially silent for mechanical switches.

Noise comes from intentionally choosing sensors that click for tactile and auditory feedback, and impact when the key bottoms out, plus some noise when the spring forces the key back up.

I got the Logitech G7xx? keyboard for my sister as it used BROWN Cherry keys (she types but BLUE was too loud) with a rubber bottom to dampen key impact.

So bottom line is you can buy fairly silent mechanical AND probably identical noise profile light switches.
 

bloodroses

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I may be in the odd here, but I actually prefer the noise as a form of feedback with my cherry blue keyboard. I also type constantly. Otherwise, I would have gone with the browns with the rubber bottoms as Photonboy suggested. Not all mechanical keyboards are loud.

As with the spilling issue, they have thin silicone guards that go over keyboards to help with spilling issues; but nothing is perfect. Non water liquids (like pop) will usually turn your keyboard into a sticky, uncleanable mess; if they don't short the keys out first. The best thing to do there is just be careful, or use containers with lids on them.
 

anbello262

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Bust this 'undrwater' keyboard, if you spill coke on it, you can just take it to the sink and wash it, right?
Of course I wouldn't let the coke to dry on the keyboard.
And I guess everyone has different preferences about noise.
For example, for typing, the best keyboard I could find was in an HP notebook, and it was completely silent. My fingers hitting the keys made as much noise as the keys themselves.

(HP HDX18, I think it was quite a generic, good quality keyboard)
 

alidan

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Have a cherry blue, I like the noise that it make, but i did not like the noise that bottoming out made, so i got rubber o ring pack for 5$, if this was a brown/black/red keyboard this would be effectively silent.
 

Findecanor

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I think that having the sensing separate would make it easier to produce multiple different switch modules - such as silent ones - not only made by Flaretech but also by third parties.
There are silenced Cherry MX on up and downstroke: Cherry MX Silent Red (and RGB Red) but is so far exclusive to Corsair.
Uniqey has a "QMX Clip" that can silence any Cherry MX switch, but they work only on PCB-mounted keyboards that don't have any plate -- and those are unusual.

I also use O-rings with clicky Cherry MX switches. The click sound is there to give me feedback that the switch has actuated. It should not have to compete with bottoming-out sound.
I have also noticed that the construction of the keyboard case and feet matters a lot for noise: some reverberate more than others.
 

xyriin

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Why all the talk of bottoming out? I realize it's required on non-mechanical keyboards to the detriment of your wrists and of course the noise level. But the beauty of a mechanical keyboard is that you DON'T have to bottom out in order to activate the key. Once you get a bit of practice with a mechanical you never bottom out while typing so bottoming noise is 0db because it never happens.
 

Findecanor

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Never say never. Different mech switches are widely different and different people have different typing styles that don't change even after years on mech keyboards.
I know that I personally don't bottom out always, but sometimes even on switches that have hard springs and good tactile feedback.
 

anbello262

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Actually, the Noise I dislike in mechanical keyboards that I have tried (although I haven't tried many, and I don/t know which color switch) is the sound made by the switch itself, similar to a mouse click.
I never mentioned anything about bottoming out.

But I'll admit I don't have extensive knowledge about mechanical keyboards. Only tried the ones I could find in stores, which were enough for me to dislike them.
 

scolaner

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We'll you're in luck then: Try out any Red switch (Cherry, Kailh, TTC, etc.) They're linear, meaning there's no tactile bump and no noise other than the "thunk" when it bottoms out. Browns have a little bump in the key travel, and Blues also have a loud "click" sound that most people seem to either love or hate.

You want a keyboard with Red switches, or Topre or Logitech (Romer-G).
 

anbello262

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I will try them, if I can find them in any store nearby.
Although the very description "linear" would mean no tactile feedback, which sounds awful, to be honest.
I really like the silent tactile feedback I get from normal (quality) laptop keyboards. That 'rubbery' feeling (although they are metal dome with plastic scissor springs).

I will make sure to try the reds, or see if I can find silent browns. But what would you recommend with [k]tactile[/k] feedback, but no noise?

I would like to try one that eliminates my prejudices against mechanical keyboards.
 

scolaner

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Heh, many agree with you about Reds...linear isn't exactly my favorite for typing. Browns aren't so loud, and they have some tactility. Topre switches aren't loud and have a tactile bump. Same with Logitech's Romer-G switches.

 
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