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TUAW Hands On with the Apple Keyboard


Yesterday I took a little trip down to my local Apple Store (the Michigan Ave. store here in Chicago) to check out the Keyboard. That's what Apple is calling their latest engineering marvel-- not the iBoard or the MacBoard, just Keyboard. I got a chance to check out the new iMac, and play with the new iLife apps for a bit, then I cracked open TextEdit and started typing.

So what did I think? I wasn't kidding when I called it an engineering marvel-- the Keyboard is unlike any other keyboard I've seen. It is extremely, almost dangerously thin-- Apple is already making stuff the width of cardboard, and pretty soon they'll move on to paper-thin. It's not actually flexible, but I got the feeling that if I really tried (or just landed a heavy phonebook on it), I could break it in two. Probably not true, but I still felt that way.

But you don't buy a keyboard for its durability-- you buy it to type on, and that's where I ran into problems.

The keyboard does feel very similar to the new MacBook keyboards-- each key only drops a tiny bit, making for small, quick movements. The keytops are completely flat, or at least so much so that I couldn't feel any grooves or contouring. So if you like the MacBook keyboard, you'll probably like this one. I, however, am in the Model M crowd-- I like my keys big, deep, and clicky. I like to feel like I'm actually punching out words when I'm, well, punching out words, and so I like a keyboard that has a little heft to it, a keyboard that can chop a melon in half.

Actually, the Keyboard is probably thin enough to do a little fruit chopping, but in terms of really feeling it, I couldn't. I'm sure if I had more time with it, I'd get more used to it. And I was extremely impressed with the way the keyboard itself was built-- just like the iPhone (which I spent way too much time playing with in the store yesterday... again), it's a slim, well-designed, very functional*, beautiful, amazing thing.

It's just not my thing. If I got one with an iMac, I'd probably use it and learn to love it. But using it for the 20 minutes or so I did yesterday didn't convince me to replace the keyboard I've got now. It's a great keyboard, it's just too darn thin for me.

Have you guys bought or used it yet? What did you think?

*The only other problem I had with it was that, even in the Apple Store, the dedicated keys didn't do what they were supposed to-- an employee told me to go into settings and change all the hotkeys, which is obviously not what should have happened. But I believe that exact problem got fixed this morning, so it's probably not a concern any more.

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