A couple of weeks with the Apple Wireless Keyboard (Yes, the one from last year)

applewireless.jpg

I’ll keep this one short: If you took every keyboard ever made and condensed them to their most elemental parts you’d end up with the Apple Wireless Keyboard ($70). It’s pleasant to type on (it feels just like the current MacBook keyboards). It has just enough tilt to be comfortable, thanks to the cylinder that holds the two AA batteries in the back. There is a light that turns on for a moment when you hit the button on the side, which is invisible underneath the surface of the metal when not turned on.

There isn’t even an Apple logo on visible on the front.

It would work fine on a Windows machine, but all the fancy function key controls for screen brightness or iTunes playback wouldn’t work. The lack of a 10key and larger arrow keys would be more of an issue for most.

It’s a distillation of keyboards down to the most basic. I bought it for a car PC project I’m working on for a 1975 car. That it looks period in the car that was designed three decades before says a lot about the timelessness of clean design.

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17 Responses to A couple of weeks with the Apple Wireless Keyboard (Yes, the one from last year)

  1. Squood says:

    I bought one of them to have one less thing plugged into my nightmare-of-a KVM setup. I can somehow type faster on this thing than I ever have with other keyboards, and the batteries last freaking forever even though I never turn it off.

    My one complaint is the lack of a number pad, and wait, did I really spend that much money on this thing? I’m consistently cheap, so now I’m wondering how this made its way onto my desk…

  2. ToMajorTom says:

    I love typing on it. Being fat-fingered, I thought I would hate it, but that’s not the case. I don’t miss the number pad, but then, I’m not doing any spreadsheets.

    It turns off? I’ve had it for 6 months and didn’t know that…and haven’t had to change the batteries yet.

  3. Chris Tucker says:

    I really hate to be the one to break the news to you all, but seriously, these new Apple keyboards suck the flies off a dead horse for actual serious typing sessions.

    “It feels JUST like a MacBook keyboard!” Talk about praising with faint damns.

    From a comment like that, I can only deduce that not one of the commentators has ever used a real keyboard with real mechanical switches, i.e., the Apple Extended Keyboard.

    I have used the new aluminum keyboards. After using the Extended for many years, these new keyboards feel as if I’m poking at a slab of Silly Putty.

    Yeah, they DO look pretty, but looks aren’t everything.

    Every try to repair an Apple aluminum keyboard? You can’t. You cannot take them apart. If the keyboard breaks, i.e., keys stop working, and it’s not under warranty or AppleCare, you have to buy a new one.

    The Extended keyboard I’m using is over 20 years old. When a key died, I pulled the donor Extended out of the closet, desoldered a key from the pc board, soldered it in the place of the broken key, replaced the keycap and it was back in service in 20 minutes.

    In closing. If you’re happy with these new keyboards, mazel tov. They should live and be well.

    But DO get back to me in 20 years if that keyboard is still working. I’m pretty sure that the keyboard I’m using right now will be working just fine when I’m nearing 80 years old. And likely working much better than I will be.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      My previous favorite keyboard was the IBM Model M with the buckling spring keys, so I think I do have some experience with the full range of tactile possibility. :)

      I type on these new style Mac keyboards all day long without issue.

  4. .acro says:

    “There isn’t even an Apple logo on visible on the front.”

    Apple’s too cool to brand their shit on the front. Same deal with the iPod.

    Information Architects had a really cool post once about the use of the interface AS the branding.
    http://informationarchitects.jp/the-interface-of-a-cheeseburger/

  5. schmod says:

    Although the small size is nice, the lack of a numpad is a bit of a dealbreaker for me. It was particularly upsetting to learn that Apple don’t make any sort of wireless keyboard with a numpad on it.

    In fact, I couldn’t find anything that even remotely compares to the previous-generation (white) apple wireless keyboard.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s OK as a travel keyboard. Other travel keyboards fold, but the Apple bluetooth has normal keys without resorting to Fn key combos (eg. 6 key rows instead of 4).

    I wind up wishing for a mechanical power switch when I forget to “hold power for three seconds to shut off”.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ve not tried it but Uawks claims to get many fancy function key controls working in Windows.

    http://code.google.com/p/uawks/

  8. Rob Beschizza says:

    Someone extracted the windows drivers from boot camp stuff, but I can’t find it now!

  9. Chris Tucker says:

    Joel, if it works for you, again, Mazel Tov!

    I guess that I’m just one of those ancient hackers who prefers the feel of real switches and keys with dished tops to wobbly flat squares that have virtually no travel to them.

    Oh, and a preference for keyboards that can be repaired in a few moments when a key finally fails after 20 plus years of constant use.

    Different strokes, as it were.

  10. lolbrandon says:

    Sharp Keys for Windows can remap the media keys & Apple/Command keys to work with Windows. I mapped Command to Control and got the media keys working with iTunes, and the volume keys work with Windows.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’ve had the aluminum wireless keyboard for a year now, and have adored it. I’m a good, fast, typist, and love the feel of this keyboard. Like others, I never used the numpad, and value the small footprint. I was under the impression this new model did not require being turned off (the manual I got says if the little light is on the keyboard is on; if it’s off the keyboard is off; that clearly doesn’t apply to my keyboard, since the light is on only when I press the side button; I assume its function is to alert you that the batteries are dead). in any event the batteries last over 6 months.

    So far so good, but in the last couple of weeks the keyboard has gone completely dead on me, twice. Batteries have just been replaced and show fully charged. Little green light goes on when I press the side button; but the only way I can get it to work again seems to be to restart the computer. Anyone else had this problem?

  12. Stakker says:

    I have never used the numpad in my life. Perhaps because I grew up with 8-bit computers. Numpads just make mousing more unergonomic. This keyboard is the best keyboard made by man so far IMHO. I’m in love with it. Beats my old favorite IBM Space Saver II.

  13. Mr Flipples says:

    It’s a great kb for a recording studio when working alone. You can travel around to the different instruments recording tracks and overdubs and never have to go back to the computer between takes.

  14. bibulb says:

    I use it in the living room setup – works GREAT. Much more pleasant than the Kensington BT mouse I use for the same machine.

  15. Tomasz Tarchala says:

    I use the keyboard when plugged into the big monitor with my Macbook Pro. Big plus in this situation is that the layout is exactly the same as the laptop’s.

    Being of the IBM Model M School of Keyboard Design I’d have never imagined I’d find the new “shallow” click workable. But having tried it — this is the cat’s pajamas.

    Only drawback is that now I have to keep my nails trimmed short, or typing gets uncomfortable.

    Now for mice, I haven’t found a good Bluetooth one yet. And don’t get me started on the Apple Mighty Mouse.

  16. strider_mt2k says:

    Stop it! Stop making me want one.

    I just dropped too much dough on a wireless gaming mouse!
    I’m in no position to be tempted…for a while.
    Perhaps by then I’ll have forgotten…

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