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Cruelty to Keyboards

Behind locked doors at Panasonic’s Osaka and Kobe facilities poor ToughBooks are thrashed to within an inch of their lives. It’s not all shock punishment either, some of the damage is cumulative over a tortuously long period of time. I saw a very sorry looking CF-29 strapped to a rack, being poked with metal spikes. The spikes were simulating key presses, with the most heavily used keys being hammered, to ensure that the keyboard can go the distance and not fail when the user most needs it.

Below the torture rack was a counter showing that the keys had been pressed over 15,000 times, which was a drop in the ocean considering that the duty cycle of the test was 5,000,000 presses! I couldn’t tell you how often I strike the Return key or Spacebar on a notebook, but I’m fairly confident that if a keyboard can last five million key strokes, it’s not likely to fail during the lifetime of the notebook.

But it’s not just whole keyboards that receive the punishment. I also saw a single key being repeatedly hammered by a metal poker, this time to ensure that the lettering on the key would not wear off after excessive use. At least this lone, little key only had to suffer 50,000 attacks before it crawled into a corner to cry.

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