Most computers are designed to work in the relative benign setting of an office. However, sometimes you need a computer outside or in a harsh environment such as a factory assembly line or warehouse. With the possibility of dust and liquids flying everywhere, the ordinary keyboards would jam up with grime. To solve this problem, you could wrap a protective cover around a standard keyboard or purchase a special ruggedized keyboard such as the Grizzly Xtreme.

The Grizzly keyboard plugs into any computer with a standard USB port and includes a complete 101-key design smashed into a condensed form. The keyboard measures 14.4 inches wide by 6.9 inches and contains all the major keys including a top row of twelve function keys, an inverted T-shaped cursor keypad, and a separate numeric keypad.

Unlike regular keyboards that leave spaces between the keys for dirt to fall through, the Grizzly keyboard exposes no open areas whatsoever, thanks to a rubber sheet that stretches across the entire keyboard, sealing its interior from exposure to the outside. A heavy metal frame protects the keyboard from shocks or drops.

While this protective rubber sheet protects the keyboard, it does make typing a bit cumbersome. You could touch type on these keys, but the effort would be difficult. Most likely, you’ll just use this keyboard to punch in short words or numbers, and for this task, the keyboard performs admirably.

Another nice feature is the keyboard’s built-in illumination, which you can turn on to view the keys in the dark or dimly lit areas. If you don’t need this illumination, pressing a button turns it off.

Of course, a keyboard is relatively useless without a mouse. Since most computer mice can’t withstand harsh environments, the Grizzly keyboard includes a pointing device similar to pointing sticks embedded within laptop keyboards.

The pointing device on the Grizzly keyboard feels like a round plate where pressing an edge moves the mouse pointer across the screen, and two nearby buttons work as the left and right mouse buttons. Controlling the pointer through this pointer device is simple and easy.

The price you pay for a ruggedized keyboard is a higher cost ($348). However, if you absolutely need to use a computer in an area that would likely kill a normal keyboard, the Grizzly Xtreme keyboard (capable of operating in extreme temperatures ranging from -30 degrees Celsius up to 60 degrees Celsius) is more than adequate for the task.

Pros:

  • Completely sealed and protected from dust, dirty, and liquids
  • Built-in illumination for use in dimly lit conditions
  • Mounting holes in back allow the keyboard to be fixed on a wall

Cons:

  • Not suitable for prolonged typing
  • Expensive compared to putting a protective cover over an ordinary keyboard

Grizzly Xtreme Ruggedized Keyboard is available here for $348 (you’ll need to email their sales team here)



Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."