Tactile Vs. Linear Keyboards

Written by jess kroll
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Tactile Vs. Linear Keyboards
Keyboards have come a long way from the click-clack of typewriters. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Computer keyboards come in with a wide selection of options, from USB to wireless and standard to ergonomic -- even the texture of the individual buttons can be adjusted to the user's preference. Linear and tactile keyboards are one example of how the design of keyboards can be altered to fit the demands of the user by altering the way each key feels when pressed.

Linear Keyboards

Linear keyboards refer computer keyboards that require consistent pressure to compress each key. In other words, as you push the key down to register a entry, the you feel no change in the force of the key pushing back against your finger until the key is pressed completely to the bottom and you remove your finger.

Tactile Keyboards

Tactile keyboards offer increased resistance once you push a key halfway do to its base, creating a distinct sensation that you can feel with every press. The effect of this adjustment is to announce that the computer has registered that you have pressed a key, much like the clicking sound of older models that indicated that a key stroke was registered.


The only discernible difference between linear and tactile keyboards is the feeling of the key as they are pressed down. Underneath the keys, however, is where the differences are most evident. Linear keyboard use a standard plastic plunger design to create an even press on the key, while tactile keyboard may use elevated force to temporarily apply resistance or plastic domes that add resistance as the button in pressed further. The exact design of tactile keyboards vary by manufacturer.


The choice between linear and tactile keyboards rests completely on the preference and budget of the user. Tactile keyboards are generally more expensive than linear ones due to the additions to the design, with dome tactile boards being more expensive than elevated force ones. Tactile keyboards are designed to shorten the amount of time the user spends pressing each key by signalling that the key has been pressed and the next one may be used. Users who either naturally press lightly or pound on the keys may consider whether a tactile keyboard is preferable.

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