The Cleankeys CK3-17 is a glass keyboard, designed for industrial and medical settings where keeping equipment clean is essential. Here’s our hands-on review.
Features & software
The keyboard is coated with Gorilla Glass, you can clean the keyboard as you would any other piece of glass – with a cloth and a suitable spray of cleaning solution. This is faster and easier than washing a keyboard in a dishwasher or with cotton swabs, and because it’s a flat, uniform surface there’s no place for germs to hide. The keyboard can also be cleaned while it’s plugged in, saving further time.
The Cleankeys comes with special CleanSweep software, which monitors the cleanliness of the keyboard. You’ll set a policy for regular cleaning, and the software will enforce that policy through reminders. The software is surprisingly precise, showing you how much of the keyboard you’ve cleaned in real time. That ensures that you never miss a spot, and the Cleankeys will become clean and sterile every time.
The Cleankeys works out of the box with no software required, and runs happily on Windows, Mac and Linux. Sensitivity and volume control keys allow you to change these settings on the fly, while a Pause key lets you clean the keyboard without activating any keys. If you do decide you want to install some software, you’ll be able to implement cleaning regimes, use the TouchTap software and monitor the cleanliness of the keyboard.
The Cleankeys is a gorgeous full-size keyboard, in a suitably clean-looking white colour. Beneath the flat glass surface, keys are laid out with thin grey outlines, with large easy-to-read legends and secondary functions marked in green. The polycarbonate chassis is easy to grip.
LED indicators are provided for power, caps lock, scroll lock and number lock. LEDs also light up when the volume or sensitivity of the keyboard are adjusted; this is achieved through a Function layer and the pressing of F9 through F12. The Function layer also works with F1 to Pause inputs to the keyboard for cleaning; this also lights an LED.
On the underside of the keyboard, we have the manufacturer and regulatory information and some rubber feet. The USB cable is sealed upon entry to the keyboard, allowing the keyboard to resist water ingress. It is rated IP65 for water and dust ingress, and the keyboard can operate in temperatures between 5 and 32 degrees celsius.
Typing on the Cleankeys is just like using a smartphone – you’re tapping on glass, with an optional beep providing feedback on each key press. Unlike a smartphone though, you’re typing on a full-size keyboard, making it easier to type quickly and accurately. I generally found that I typed at about 30~ words per minute using the Cleankeys. That’s slower than I can manage on my daily mechanical keyboard, but much faster than I am typing on a smartphone or tablet.
I was more accurate when tapping (with two fingers and looking at the keys), but faster when I was touch-typing as normal (with all fingers and looking at the screen). The keyboard includes a special TouchTap mode which allows you to rest your fingers on the keys without registering a keypress and cleverly selects the most likely key if your fingers land between two. You can set the sensitivity of the keyboard and the loudness of the aural feedback as well, allowing you to maximise your speed and accuracy. The sensitivity setting also allows gloves to be used while typing.
Of course, the Cleankeys CK3-17 could still be improved. Smartphone style shortcuts and auto-correction, particularly the ability to double tap the space bar to insert a space and period, would be most welcome. With these in place, I feel I could type even more rapidly and accurately, maybe even past the level of a good mechanical keyboard.
Overall, I was impressed with the Cleankeys keyboard. It fulfills its promise of being the most easily cleaned keyboard in the world, and offers surprisingly good typing action as well thanks to its intelligent software and helpful aural feedback. The keyboard makes a lot of sense for medical and industrial settings, and I’m curious to see what innovations the company is able to come up with in the future.