Apple’s newest keyboards are very sexy. They are almost impossibly thin with Chiclet-like keys and an anodized aluminum housing. I bought the full-sized USB version (actually, I bought two — one for the office and one for home), but there’s also a smaller Bluetooth version available.
After several months of use, I’ve determined that Apple’s emphasis was definitely on aesthetics when designing this keyboard rather than function. It’s certainly the most beautiful keyboard I’ve ever used, but it’s also one of the least comfortable and "accurate". By accurate, I don’t mean that it literally makes mistakes, but there’s something about its design that encourages me to make more mistakes than I typically make with other keyboards. In particular, I have problems with capitalization.
My other complaint is ergonomics. Even though Steve Jobs bragged about its good ergonomics during its world debut, I find it relatively uncomfortable to use. It probably isn’t any less ergonomic than its predecessor, however it’s much flatter which forces me to bend my wrists slightly further forward in order to meet it. According to Steve, this is a good thing, but occasionally, he and I don’t see eye to eye.
The new aluminum Apple keyboard looks and sounds better than any keyboard Apple has ever created, but when it comes to comfort and pure WPM, I much prefer my big ugly Goldtouch.
Update: I appreciate all the feedback I’ve gotten on this article. In fact, I’ve decided to give the keyboard another chance. I’m really going to work on ergonomics and see if that makes a difference. I’ll let you guys know what happens.
Update 2 (2/27/2009): All this time later, and I’m using two Apple aluminum keyboards — one at home, and one at work. I guess it just took time to get used to.
I have the BT version and I couldn’t agree more with you.
Lot of mistakes (double – wrong letters ).. The keys are too easy to press. I hope i’ll get use to it.
Apple first kill the beautiful wireless mouse with the Mighty and now the keyboard..
I wish the OPTIMUS MAXIMUS was less expensive..
I agree. I’m using it now, in fact. Unless I have my wrists propped up with a wrist rest (which is great with other keyboards, but a bit too high for this keyboard), my right hand will unintentionally hit the right-sided option key when typing, causing me to insert Yen signs and a bunch of other control characters. A real pain. Yes, it’s beautiful, But it’s a problem in a lot of ways. I tried using the open-source tool Ukulele to set up a keyboard layout that wouldn’t type a Yen sign, but the OS will switch to the default US Extended layout when switching apps, so that was no help. I tried making my option key inactive in the system prefs, but that was an issue when I actually need the option key active.
I love mine. Makes typing a breeze ;)
I find the new keyboard to be the best I have ever owned. Love the touch.
I disliked the feel of it so much I had to revert back to my original Apple Pro USB (white/clear) keyboard. It made gaming all but impossible. Can’t find the right keys when I lift my hand to do something and place it back on the keyboard. Because the keys are so short, you can’t feel the edges of them very well.
I don’t have any of these problems. When you type, your wrists are not actually supposed to be resting on anything. It’s supposed to be elevated so as not to cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Check out this URL and scroll down to see what the proper wrist position is: http://www.rsi.deas.harvard.edu/preventing.html
It could be that because your wrists have been trained to be in the wrong position that you now have issues typing on a thin keyboard.
For me, my experiences with the bluetooth aluminium keyboard has been great.
I think the keyboard is more of a personal thing then it is an actual problem (like the glossy and matte debate). Personally I LOVE the feel of the keyboard. I’m a secretary by trade and one of my job is to do long tedious typing jobs so I’m a touch typist by necessity.
I just adore the feel and response of the new Apple keyboards. The short travel of the keys keep to speed up my typing and the crisp feel of the keys is very satisfying :)
Agree. I was using a TactilePro 2.0, and I finally went back to it. I guess I missed the firm “click” when a key was compressed. As I am a very rapid “hunt and peck” with the middle fingers of both hands, the new aluminum keyboard (USB) just wasn’t comfortable for my type of typing.
I still miss the keyboard that came with our IIci.
I refuse to give up my Apple Extended Keyboard II. It’s hooked up to my G5 via an iMate. I’m glad that it still works because it’s my understanding that the iMate isn’t compatible with Tiger and later (except for some Apple ADB hardware). I’ve been reading reviews of the new Apple keyboards, but most reviews (like yours) have helped me conclude that I should stick to what I have.
I guess keyboards are very subjective and individual. I love my alu keyboard and can’t stand typing on the older ones now.
Funnily enough I am more comfortable typing on the new one without a wrist pad than I was on the old one with a wrist pad.
I had to get used to it but now I love it. That may be because I balance it between my knee and keyboard drawer pull-out, and it weighs almost nothing. The old white keyboard was always falling off, but this one just floats. I make a few more typos, but the tradeoff is worth it.
Dumbass Maczealots would buy even a turd with the Apple logo.
Best keyboard I’ve ever used, ever.
Look underneath and you’ll find the two little “feet” that swing out for those who prefer a more angled typing surface, but ergonomically, it’s better to leave it in the “flat” position.
Of course, that’s only on the pro models. Like the original Apple optical mouse, of which only the “pro” version had the adjustable spring click tension wheel, there are two versions. One without feet and one with.
after a couple weeks getting used to it, the typing accuracy issue is gone
I am not a touch typist, nor a good typist for that matter, but I can honestly say that the new Aluminum keyboards are one of the finest keyboards that I’ve come across. I have asked several of my work colleagues to use the new keyboard (these are people who can touch type) and they are impressed!
I’m with you on the ergonomics. I’m planning on a new computer in the next couple months, so i went down to the store to try out the new keyboards. I type a *lot*–aspiring writer–and i’m a touch-typist, so i can type for hours without my hands getting the least bit sore. And, like someone said, my hands only ever hit the wrist-rest (well, palm-rest) when i’m doing stuff like Illustrator (i.e., intermittent single keys, rather than constant typing). I typed about the same amount that this comment is going to turn out to be, and my hands were already sore, specifically in the muscles at the back of the hand that anchor the fingers. The thinness doesn’t matter, but the keyboard commits several other ergonomic faux pas.
First, a keyboard should be overall roughly level across the tops of the keys, or with the back slightly lower than the front–you’ll note the RSI-prevention website someone linked to earlier says as much. I have no idea why most keyboards have feet to elevate the already-higher back end. But i find the angle on the new aluminum keyboard to be too steep. Second, optimally the rows will form a slightly-concave shape, with the home row the lowest, and the other rows successively higher by a very small amount. Obviously, the aluminum keyboard is completely flat.
Third, you do not want to ever bottom out the keys on your keyboard. This puts additional strain on your muscles, as you constantly slam into the limit of travel of the keys. A good keyboard activates the key well before it hits the bottom of its stroke, and gives you some sort of feedback (tactile or audible) that it has done so. Thus, you don’t need to press the key all the way down. I can’t tell if the aluminum keyboard does this, but the travel is so short that i’m not sure i could ever learn to not bottom the keys out, even assuming they activate before bottoming out.
Fourth, a good keyboard has two things to help your typing accuracy: key spacing, and key shape. The aluminum keyboard gets the first one right–you want a bit of space between keys so that it’s difficult to hit an adjacent key, even if you have relatively wide fingers. And, of course, you want the center-to-center spacing of the keys to be appropriate, which it is. But you also want tactile feedback of your key position, before your finger slides off the side of the key. That’s why almost all keyboards have slightly concave key tops. These naturally encourage your fingers to the centers of the keys, because you can instantly feel if you’re hitting the keys off-center, without having to be so off-center that you’re feeling the edges of the keys.
So, when i buy my new computer, i’ll probably stick something under the front edge of the new keyboard in order to give it a fair shot, but i strongly suspect i’ll be going out and buying a different keyboard in short order.
Love it, it’s so elegant but I’m using mine with a PC so……………….how do I find the keys I’ve lost ie. print screen……………home……..sleep etc
The new aluminum keyboard is esthetically pleasing but with abysmal ergonomics. The keyboard gives very little tactile feedback and if you are used to touching and feeling your way over the keyboard to center the finders on the home row you will have a harder time. You will actually have to peek at the keyboard. So, I don’t give this keyboard a passing grade at all.
There is one positive thing though. If you are learning to touch type, this may be a good teaching aid. Since this keyboard forces you to be very precise and hit the keys in the center. If you get precise and fast on this keyboard, you will be ultra fast and precise on regular keyboards.
Like gberger, I continued to use my Extended II keyboard. Still do with one machine. iMate works fine. Still have the original, also bought 3 rebuilt units from Other World Computing for $1.00 each (yes). Two were Extended 1, with the fixed cable. One was too “sticky” to use. I had purchased different versions of the USB boards: Black, pure white, semi-transparent. (And contrary to Apple’s warnings, they all worked on PB and Ti Book in 9 and 10.)
Bought the Aluminum wireless for PowerBook use. Only one problem: The keys must be depressed fully or you lose letters. Fortunately, I use SpellCatcher, but it constantly chimes because letters are missing, warning of spelling errors. Even typing words like “book” can result in one “o” not being entered. Have no plans to get rid of it. But the superior product was and has been the Extended II.
Regarding “wrist rests,” one terrible product. (G J P is corect) The wrist is not supposed to press down on anything. On the other hand, a palm rest is fine. But not for full-time use.
Many cases of wrist problems come about because of the design of the furniture. Since the 70s, desk heights (including later system station work tops) have dropped 1″ – 2″ – 3″, and keyboard work tops have risen 1″ or 2″ over the old “typewriter” height, or keyboards are simply used on the work top itself. Bad for wrists. The ideal work top height should be 26″ – 27″ (max).
I have to disagree. I’ve been using it for only half a day or so now; yes, ordinarily, that would be too short a span of time for evaluating a piece of electronics, but in the case of erognomic questions associated with a keyboard, that’s about the right span of time for feedback.
I find it both comfortable and accurate for my (admittedly larger than average) hands, and I’m very comfortable with the light but crisp tactile feedback. My WPM has actually gone up using this keyboard, as the previous keyboard I had, a Kensington Windows-focused model, required about twice the pressure for each keystroke.
Yes, the slimmer profile could use something to prop it up to make it easier to reach, but since I use a low desktop surface and a “gamer chair” for my workspace, I just recline and migrate the keyboard to my lap. Granted, this isn’t viable or in some cases even possible for some users, but with a workspace that’s not improperly configured itself, the keyboard presents no significant problems.
The ease of use I have with this keyboard is simply superior to that of any keyboard I’ve used before, and the good looks are a bonus and a treat.
Best keyboard I have ever used. And of course the most comfortable keyboard I have ever used.
LOL @ Nat (Jan 12th) who said: “Third, you do not want to ever bottom out the keys on your keyboard. This puts additional strain on your muscles, as you constantly slam into the limit of travel of the keys.”
If you are hitting the keyboard that hard you need to reconfigure your body’s fine motor skills. Also, if your fingers are so sensitive that you’re worried that pressing the keys and reaching the limit of the travel on a plastic-button keyboard is going to hurt your muscles, one would expect that you would have trouble in other areas of life. Don’t click the mouse, it might hurt your muscles. dont press the power button on your computer… don’t even press the buttons on your phone. Maybe just stay inside.
I just returned the Apple Keyboard with a numeric keypad (UK version) for two reasons:
1. The left-sided shift key is not double-width.. Instead of capitilization, I hit the single quote key
2. The ENTER/RETURN key on the right is too narrow and vertical, I am not used to it.
I noticed the new U.S. version of the keyboard has the more traditional layout with wide shift keys on both sides and a wide enter key. Now I have to wait to see if they will update the UK keyboard soon.
If you want to see what I am talking about, compare these two images:
just awful , apple make things look good but work like junk .. enough of their stupid designs that take away from functionality . all their new stuff like laptops are just mean to fail with shady designs
I love this keyboard but my first one quit after six months. A key had stopped functioning for some reason. I was using the keyboard on my Dell XPS410 with Vista 32-bit. I quickly learned the keyboard cannot be dis-assembled for repair – there are no screws. The keyboard seems to be glued together. Though the keys can be removed from the top – if there’s a problem on the board underneath or on the board itself – forget it! I also discovered the keyboard (at the time of this writing) doesn’t get along too well with Windows based PC’s. Mine had lasted six months. I had been given a replacement by the Apple Store after my first Apple aluminum keyboard quit while under warranty, but the new one quit the 2nd day after I took it home! A key had stopped functioning after I installed a few latest Microsoft updates! I give up…
Mine freezes when I print large files and I have to restart to get it unfrozen. The old white plastic one doesn’t do this. There are lots of these complaints around on the web.
Evidently, some people like it but to me it’s horrible. I hate the feel of it, I’m not sure what it is but it just doesn’t feel good to type on it. Your fingers get hit every time you press a key. Will never get used to it, will never use it. Fortunately, when I bought my Mac Pro it still came with a normal white keyboard.