Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Review: The new aluminum Apple keyboard (wired version)

Der deutsche Testbericht hier.

For unboxing pictures of the new aluminum Apple keyboard click here.

Introduction

Now after finishing the German review of Apple's new aluminium keyboard and posting it I'd like to post the English version for all the English-speaking readers of my blog.
I'll start off with my motive that led me to buying Apple's new wired keyboard. At first when the keyboard was released I wasn't too impressed by it...the design well looked cheap on the pictures and for my taste the keyboard was too flat. However, when I had the chance to have a JIS layout Apple keyboard brought to me directly from Japan's Apple Store in Tokyo I just couldn't resist and went ahead and took the risk. Besides the Euro is really strong right now so the loss wouldn't have been too great. The decision between the wired version and the wireless Apple keyboard was made very easy because Apple didn't integrate a number block into the wireless one. On top I'm not the biggest fan of bluetooth so I stuck with the wired version.

New Apple keyboard wired review


What's new?

  • completely redesigned
  • two USB 2.0 ports integrated
  • Function keys (dashboard, display, eject, iTunes control, volume)

New Apple keyboard wired review


The Feel

As a Macbook 13,3” owner I can tell you that the typing feel of this keyboard is very close to that of a Macbook's. The extremely flat keys on the keyboard make it possible to type a letter with very little effort. I personally am a big fan of flat key keyboards ever since I got my first laptop (which was a PC) and had quite a few keyboards (Logitech ultra flat, Macally iKey 5). But compared to Apple's newest keyboard the flatness of the other keyboards is a joke. I believe that this keyboard is probably the flattest out at this time. Even though I like flat keyboards (or shall I say flat keys) I rather like it when my keyboard is tilted a bit. With my old keyboards that was easily possible by little keyboard feet at the back. The lack of the possibility of tilting the keyboard is a con in my opinion. I have gotten used to it by now though, I guess. What surprised me about the feel of the new keyboard however was that it wasn't exactly like the Macbook's. It is similar but in my opinion the keys on the Macbook are a bit “harder”. What I'm trying to say is that you have to “hack” a bit more on the Macbook's keyboard than on the Apple keyboard. In the end I have to say that the typing feel of the Apple keyboard is sensational. I already liked the Macbook keyboard but the Apple keyboard is even better than the Macbook's. However, you have to use the keyboard for quite a while to get used to it: it is very different compared to the usual keyboards:
the keys are FLAT (no curves whatsoever)
the keyboard itself is almost completely untilted
Macbook owners shouldn't need such a long time to get used to the feel though.

New Apple keyboard wired review


The looks

I remember when the first pictures of the keyboard leaked and the design was bashed harshly in many forums. People found the design ugly and the lack of the Apple symbol on the Command key really pissed some people off. There is even a petition going on to bring back the Apple key. Oh well, I don't bother that much about the Apple key but some hardcore Apple fans just might. I first also disliked the design of the keyboard. I thought it just looked cheap on the pictures. In real life though the aluminum plate gives the keyboard an aura of quality. I also like the weight of the keyboard. It is really heavy if you compare its weight to its size.

New Apple keyboard wired review


The new Apple keyboard in real life situations

In daily use I have found the new Apple aluminum keyboard to be just the keyboard that I have been looking for. The new function keys which include

dashboard
expose
display control
volume control
eject
iTunes control

I am aware that this is not something entirely new, however I love the fact that the functions are now printed on the keys. That makes it easier to use them and as far as I am concerned I don't want to live without them anymore. Another new feature or aspect about the keyboard I really like is the fact that the keyboard now has USB 2.0 ports. This actually was long overdue in my opinion. The USB ports are placed perfectly for USB cables made by Apple but for me they're just unhandy. The placement of the ports is just too deep. You can't just put in your USB flash stick to copy a few photographs you want to give to your friend because of the unfortunate placement. You'd have to fiddle around or even lift the keyboard which is really inconvenient. I have to mention that Apple ships these keyboards with USB extension cords which are useful but it is beyond me why they didn't put in two of those in. In addition you have to understand that you can't connect any power hungry devices to these ports because they don't supply enough current. This means that you can't connect your iPod for example, to these ports to charge you iPod's battery. Another thing that really is bothersome for dial-up internet connection users is that there was no driver CD included. That means you have to download a 35 MB driver with your 56k modem which could take a while-just that you know.

New Apple keyboard wired reviewnew apple keyboard


Final thoughts

So what's left in the end? Well, the keyboard sure is different than any other keyboard on the market right now. It's ultra thin, the design is...different (let's leave it at that), the typing feel is excellent, it has USB 2.0 ports and practical function keys. I believe this keyboard has deserved a chance. I bought it and I am very happy about it. I thought I wouldn't but meanwhile the Apple keyboard has replaced my macally iKey5 as the primary keyboard. And by any chance if you don't like me should be able to sell the keyboard without much loss.

Update: Some users are experiencing problems with the dashboard and expose function keys. Here is a blog entry that might help. Since I haven't had the problems yet I don't know for sure if it works. If anyone who reads this and has tried, would appreciate a comment. But it seems to be a perfectly good working solution for the Apple keyboard problems.


MB-switcher

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the ultimate Mac keyboard. I absolutely love it!

MB-switcher said...

I agree...
I can't imagine living without it anymore.

kev19 said...

I bought this keyboard after having used a new iMac at school. I'd never used a Mac before - at least not in anger! - so this was new to me. After using the keyboard for 10 seconds, I knew I had to buy one.

After a few searches on the internet, I found there were no problems with PCs, regardless of Windows or Linux, which I both run.

I have to admit, it was the best £30 I've spent in a long time, and is easily the best feeling keyboard I've ever used.

Kevin.

Pacoup said...

How did you end up ordering the JIS version of the keyboard. I have the Canadian Multilingual because of my location but I want a JIS version too.

I've been on Apple's Japan website but I can't seem to be able to choose my counter, they want my name in Furigana and the district I live in.

Lol, how did you get passed that?

theorris said...

My only issue with the keyboard up to this point is that the riser bar in the back will not balance on an uneven surface--even slight uneven. This makes for annoying keyboard rattle when it is not sitting perfectly on a perfectly flat surface.

theorris said...

I also meant to say the the overall feel of the keyboard is good and it is quite responsive.

M1K3Z0R said...

I bought this keyboard for use specifically on non apple hardware, and I love it. It feels very high quality, and the tilt is just right. The usb cable seems a bit fragile but that's just me.

If they would make a backlit version then my life would be complete.

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