Apple has a brand new desktop keyboard that is – dare we say – sexy? It’s made entirely of aluminum, has a low-profile design, and is perfect for people who love a “laptop” feel from a desktop keyboard. It’s more useful for Apple users, but PC fanatics will also enjoy its ergonomics.
Features and Design
Most PC-based keyboards offer not only the standard layout of keys, but row upon row of extra keys, widgets, doo-dads, and the like to add to the usefulness of the keyboard; but not the Apple keyboard. This keyboard is just that – a keyboard. You have your letter keys, number keys, and a number pad, and that’s it. To some, this might be a blessing (who uses all those macro keys anyway?). To others, it might be a detriment. If you’re looking for a full-fledged G15 competitor look elsewhere.
Obviously the Apple keyboard is not designed to compete with those gaming keyboards. It’s designed to be simple, elegant, and space-saving. In fact, we replaced our G15 with the Apple keyboard for testing and found we now had about six inches of new desk space available. Yes, it’s that small.
The keyboard features a low-profile design, and sits about a half-inch off your desktop at the top of its gently sloping upward tilt. There are two non-powered USB ports on either side, beneath the top of the keyboard which are useful for a mouse or other non-power-sucking item. You will not be able to plug in an external hard drive, for example, but a mouse or USB key will be fine.
Aside from that, there’s not much else for PC users, but if you use a Mac there are function keys for brightness, Expose, volume, eject, play/pause and others.
Image Courtesy of Apple
Use and Testing
To test the Apple keyboard, we put it through an incredibly intense regimen of typing. Then we took a break and typed some more. When we were finished, our fingers were bloody stumps, but we had our testing data and it showed that…this keyboard is pretty sweet.
As stated before, we went from a G15 to the Apple keyboard, which is like going from a 67” Caddy to a Mini Cooper, but we like it. The low-profile design feels more ergonomic since our palms rest flat on our desk and our fingers extend easily over the keyboard. The keys have a very small range of motion, so if you like small, flat keys like the ones on a keyboard its absolute bliss. If you like to rest your wrists on a keyboard’s wrist rest and pound away, you will not like it.
As for big negatives, if you are a PC user you will find it has a few oddities. First of all, the ALT key and the Windows key are swapped on the Apple keyboard. We got around this little quirk by downloading KeyTweak, which is a free keyboard re-mapper.
We also missed the “Print Screen” button, which is F14 on Macs, but doesn’t do anything on PCs. To get around this we had to use the on-screen keyboard that is built into Windows accessibilities functions (in Vista it’s All Programs, Accessories, Ease of Access, On-screen keyboard). This let us print the screen, but we still missed the ability to press the Alt key and capture the prominent Window.
The Apple keyboard is not the end-all, be-all of keyboards, but it is a sleek, ergonomic, functional keyboard that is very easy to use and performs quite well. It can’t compete with the full-featured gaming keyboards available to PC users, but it’s not meant to. It’s meant to appeal to those who crave a low-profile design with minimal extra buttons. And at just $50 USD, it’s a great keyboard for those who just want to type, whether it’s on a Mac or a PC.
• Low-profile design
• Great feel
• Takes up very little space
• PC users will want to remap some keys
• No Print Screen key