At a Glance
The Good: Dishwasher safe, sturdy
The Bad: No ergonomic curves
Seal Shield bills itself as the "infection control specialist" and has a variety of devices that are meant to be used in medical settings. Now, the Computer Peripherals site has had some fun in the past by testing washable devices, but Seal Shield takes it to the next level by touting the Washable Keyboard as being dishwasher safe. The other keyboards I've tested always had the disclaimer that you could not get the connector wet, but Seal Shield includes a handy, sturdy rubber cover for the USB connector, and it promises that the gold-plated connector will not rust after multiple washings.
The Silver Seal keyboard (model SSKSV107L) also features antimicrobial protection, according to the company, in order to further guard against germs and other grossness. I tested the black model, and a white version is also available.
When it comes to keyboard designs, the Silver Seal is fairly basic as far as they go. You get your standard 104 keys, which includes your F shortcuts at the top and your separate number pad on the right. There aren't really any bells and whistles, and there are no ergonomic curves to its design. (It does feature feet that can snap out to elevate.) Since this keyboard is really geared toward a very specific audience, the simplicity of its design is not really surprising. When it comes to the price, you are most certainly paying for its waterproof protection.
Another difference between the Silver Seal keyboard and other 104-key devices is that this model comes with an extension cord. The USB cable attached to the keyboard is about 6 inches long, which obviously isn't nearly long enough to connect to most desktop computers (although I imagine it might work well for those mobile computer carts used in hospitals and other medical offices). A 6-foot extension cord is included in the packaging.
I did use the keyboard for about two weeks of regular use, and I found it to be no more and no less comfortable than keyboards with similar designs. It feels quite sturdy and is a bit heavier than many of the other standard keyboards I've used.
So how did that feature turn out in the testing?
Instead of smearing the device with flu germs, I smashed a cheeseburger into it (I know, nice) and pulled on the protective cap to the USB connector (it has an extremely tight seal, all puns intended, and you have to really squeeze it down). It fit perfectly in the top rack of my dishwasher, along with its sister peripheral, the Silver Storm optical mouse (see here to read the review on that device). The dry cycle on my dishwasher isn't the greatest, so when I took out the keyboard, streams of water ran through the keys and left puddles on my counter. I gently shook out the excess water and let it air dry on my counter for about 15 minutes.
When I plugged the USB connector back into my laptop, the computer registered the sparkling clean device immediately. Success!
As a further plus, the protective rubber cover features a leash to attach it to the USB cord, lessening the chance that you'll misplace this very important cap. If you don't have a dishwasher, the fact that the device is waterproof means you can spray it down with your cleanser of choice and soak it clean.
The Bottom Line
While Seal Shield markets the Silver Seal keyboard to those in the medical community, I think this would be an attractive device for a number of users, including those with small children. Yes, $43 is a bit more than you might spend on something your toddler is going to pound on, but it's quite sturdy and seems it could take such a beating. When your kid sneezes all over the keyboard, or decides to "play piano" after finishing a popsicle -- or if your pre-teen is prone to eating Cheetos while finishing that book report -- all you'll have to do it toss it in the dishwasher and hit "Start."