The Extended Keyboard Wins

For years now, my primary keyboard has been an Apple Extended Keyboard. I fell into it, to be honest. I bought a Mac with an extended keyboard and found myself using those extra keys not so much as a keypad, but as a mechanism to launch automation. Those extra keys came in handy with seven additional function keys, proper arrow keys, and all those number keys. The addition of a Touch ID button sealed the deal.

On the downside, it sometimes looks like you have a battleship parked on your desk. My right hand has to move 10 inches from the keyboard to the mouse. Lately, I’ve put so much of my macro triggers into my various Stream Decks I’ve been thinking about downscaling.

So I purchased an Apple Magic Keyboard with TouchID sans Numeric Keypad last week to see if I could turn the battleship into something smaller. This is an excellent comparison because it is so close (but not identical) to the same keyboard I’ve been using with the right 5 inches chopped off.

When the keyboard arrived, I thought it would be a no-brainer. But it turns out that adjusting was more challenging than you’d think. I’ve given it the better part of a week, and I’ve discovered that I like the layout of the battleship. The smaller keyboard has the Function key where the left control key is on the bigger keyboard. I also use the arrow keys and additional function keys more than you’d think. While I could adjust to the smaller keyboard, I feel the inconvenience of it way more than I enjoy the shorter trip to my mouse.

In the end, this is a clear choice for me. You can get a keyboard that takes less space and makes the trip to the mouse shorter, or you can get the bigger one with more buttons. There isn’t a right answer, but in my case, the battleship won.

The New 13″ MacBook Pro with 100% Less Butterflies

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Today Apple announced the release of the latest iteration of the 13″ MacBook Pro. The new version doesn’t grow the screen to 14“, as the rumor mill predicted. It does, however, get a processor bump on the higher-end models. Perhaps most importantly, it adds the same scissor-switch keyboard we now have on the 16” MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and iPad Magic Keyboard. The butterfly keyboard is no longer for sale on new Apple laptops. While I didn’t have a particular problem with the feel of the butterfly keyboard, I had a big problem with its reliability. The part of this story that I can’t get over is how long it took to replace the butterfly keyboard once it became clear it was a dud. The really feels like Apple’s own second arrow.

20 Minutes with the New Apple Magic Keyboard

I had to go into the Apple store today to get my MacBook checked out. I’m having some issues with the spacebar sticking. Ironically, while I was there I was able to try the new Apple Magic Keyboard

I use the existing Bluetooth keyboard with my iMac every day and I was curious to see how the new keyboard stacks up against the old one.

The new keyboard is lighter than the existing one. I’m guessing that has a lot to do with chucking the battery barrel that runs along the back of the existing Bluetooth keyboard. Using a molded battery let’s Apple get rid of a lot of weight.

The new keyboard now charges through a lightning port on the back of the keyboard. Attaching the keyboard directly to your iMac lets the keyboard charge and pair. It’s all pretty slick and since most people have a lightning cable hanging off their iMac already, much more convenient then my usual routine of rotating the rechargeable batteries.

Another improvement is the on/off switch. In the existing keyboard, whether or not the device is turned on is always a bit of a mystery. You need to long press on the power button (located on the opposite side of the battery access cover) and that either results in the device turning on or turning off. The trouble is you don’t know until you try. The new keyboard has a switch. The slider background shows green if it’s on and red if it’s off. That’s much better.

Typing on the new keyboard I couldn’t tell any difference from the existing keyboard. Apple explained they’ve done additional work to improve the scissor switches to have 33% more stability and I have no doubt that they have but it felt pretty similar to me. One nice improvement is that the function keys now are full-size instead of half size on the existing keyboard.

Removal of the battery barrel also allows the keyboard to be slightly flatter. This reduces the angle of the keys off the table and is probably ergonomically better. Again, after using the existing Bluetooth keyboard every day and now trying out the new Apple Magic Keyboard, couldn’t tell a difference.

Overall, the new keyboard seems an improvement in just about every way. I’m not sure if it’s worth replacing my existing keyboard but because I am weak, I will probably at some point in the future do so anyway. Regardless, going forward, the new Apple Magic Keyboard is better than the old one.

One final point is the branding. Notice how it’s called the Apple Magic Keyboard and not the Macintosh Magic Keyboard or just Magic Keyboard? I think this is one more example of the recent trend where Apple is putting it’s own name into product branding.

As an aside, while I was at the Apple Store I also got to try the new Magic mouse which felt exactly the same as my old Magic mouse at home except for removal of the battery compartment and instead placing a lightning adapter (strangely on the bottom of the mouse) for the built-in recharging. The Apple Store didn’t have any of the new Apple Magic Trackpads for me to try.