I set out happily on my morning mission to the local Apple store with the intention of coming home with a shiny new-brushed aluminum (one of my VERY favorite aesthetics, BTW), Apple Bluetooth keyboards. Sadly, my happy thoughts of bringing home my new little friend (minus the number pad AND the forward delete button… a personal peeve of mine!) were dashed. They weren’t in stock. I went from the Apple store in the local mall to a CompUSA only to be told the same thing, though the words were slightly different. At the Apple store I inquired about the new Apple Bluetooth keyboard and I was handed a card and instructed to call in a week and “check up to see if they were delivered yet.” At CompUSA, however, the resident Mac-geek informed me that they “hadn’t shipped out to anyone,” and “I don’t know what’s wrong with Apple, people have been asking quite often about that item.”
Well, I was a bit bummed. But after reading the absolutely glowing reviews on the Apple site about the new wired and non-wired alike, and since the keys on one of my keyboards were starting to stick quite a bit, I decided to go for the Apple wired, extended keypad (109 keys, I believe… I’d sit and count them, but…).
Now I know why this keyboard had nothing but positive reviews!
The action is just like a Mac book Pro. There’s very little key-travel, and NO play (from side-to-side, front-to-back), whatsoever. The response time (the time between pressing a key, and the resulting action) never seemed to be an issue with a Mac keyboard. In fact, until I got this keyboard, I never even really thought of it, but now I see, this keyboard is incredibly fast, and I definitely type with less effort.
Game play was more responsive than usual, and there was no lag-time when playing games that require a keyboard with a quick response time, such as Ford Racing 2 (a personal favorite). I actually quickly noticed that I didn’t have to be overly forceful with the direction keys in order to navigate the cars, and the break/gas buttons (up/down navigation buttons) had a great feel as well.
One thing that I did notice right away was that since this keyboard has such a low profile, it might take a little bit of getting used to. In fact, since I use a keyboard tray, and like many, don’t have a great one (it has that molded lip which is intended to be a wrist support), the new Apple keyboard sits WAY too low to be able to type comfortably. I remedied this by taking a book that was a little more than 1/2- inch thick, sawing it in half, and placing a piece of DYCEM Non-Slip material (you know, that rubbery mesh stuff that every dollar store has) on the top of each half, and placing it near the outermost edges of the keyboard. This raised it just enough to bring the keyboard back up to the level that I was used to and gave room to clear the lip of the tray. Before I felt as if I was reaching down a little, this made typing tough, but now it’s back to normal.
The keyboard has the usual two USB 2.0 ports that we’ve grown accustom to as Mac users, but they are placed where they are slightly hard to get to. This would make it a little inconvenient to use the ports for things like removable data or cameras, but I could see it being very convenient to plug in, say, an iPod base or the usual mouse/trackball, or anything that you would leave plugged in on a semi-permanent basis.
I should say that there is an Apple Keyboard Software Update 1.2 to take advantage of the aluminum Apple Keyboard’s special features, which are: screen brightness, volume, eject, play/pause, fast-forward and rewind, Expose, and Dashboard.
For me, installing this software was NOT a good move. I use HotApp (can’t say enough good things about this Shareware), so I really don’t need any extra features. Anything “extra” can’t compare to the total programmability that I get from this little gem. But I installed it anyway, and it caused some problems for me.
As I’ve said in my last two reviews, I use my Mac as my home entertainment center. I have a feature called Front Row that allows me access to all of the media content on my Mac through one very clean and streamlined interface. This software is included with every Mac running 10.4 and higher, but is not supposed to run without the Apple Remote.
There is, however, a great little hack by Andrew Escobar that enables this feature. I’ve grown very accustom to having it. Applying the Apple Keyboard update patch (that’s really all it is) disabled my Front Row and threw me off for a couple hours until I figured out how to un-apply the keyboard patch, dump the cache, restart, reapply the original two patched files that enable Front Row, and then restart! Pheeew! I had to figure out this sequence pretty much by myself, and then by accident it worked again. So even if I wanted to recall what I had done, I’d have a very hard time remembering as I was throwing expletives around the room and trying last-ditch combos of the aforementioned hacks! I guess it would kind of be like turning on your TV and cable box/DVR/TiVo and there being nothing but a blank screen! You know that all of the stations and recorded content are there, but you have no idea how to get to it, and it’s all pretty much your fault because you changed a plug or something that was working fine to begin with!
Anyway, enough about my personal woes. Everything got fixed and it’s up and running just fine.
Here is a short description from the Apple site about the keyboard:
The completely redesigned Apple Keyboard features an elegant, ultra-thin anodized aluminum enclosure, low-profile keys, and two USB 2.0 ports.
The Apple Keyboard has been completely redesigned, inside and out. It features an elegant, ultra-thin anodized aluminum enclosure with low-profile keys that provide crisp, responsive feel. It also has function keys for one-touch access to a variety of Mac features such as screen brightness, volume, eject, play/pause, fast-forward and rewind, Expose, and Dashboard. Its extended layout includes document navigation controls and a numeric keypad. And two USB 2.0 ports provide high-speed connectivity for your iPod, Mighty Mouse, digital camera, and other USB-based electronic devices.
- Elegant design
- Incredible action
- Great response during typing, gaming.
- Added function keys
- A little low if you use a keyboard tray
- That’s about it!
I have to say that this is hands-down the best keyboard that I have EVER typed with! I always liked the tactile quality of the keypad on my iBook and from time to time wondered why they hadn’t made a desktop keyboard with that action… well, here it is!
You wouldn’t think that a keyboard could be slick, but the overall look to this new Apple product is minimalist, clean, and streamlined, I highly recommend it, and at the regular price of $49 (what Apple keyboards cost, high, yes, but you definitely get what you pay for here), pick one up.
I really look forward to getting and reviewing the Bluetooth model. They should be in stores next month, and that’ll be the “once-a-month treat” that I buy myself. Maybe for Halloween!