Posted August 14th, 2007 @ 01:15pm by Erik J. Barzeski
My new "aluminum" Apple keyboard arrived today and, after installing the 1.1 update, I rebooted and put the keyboard to use.
I've long used Apple's standard keyboards, from the Extended to the black and then the white USB keyboards. I've liked their feel and always felt I had to adjust somewhat to typing on my laptops if for no other reason than my posture and the position of my hands were different.
I adjusted to the AlBoard more quickly than I'd have expected - about five seconds or so, literally. The thing is so slim it feels as though I'm typing on my desk's surface. The feeling is rather futuristic - almost like typing should feel like in 2020 or something.
My fingers are still used to pushing through a little more travel as I'm a bit heavy-handed with my typing right now, but I'll soften up over time.
The looks are great and reinforce the "futuristic" feeling. They nicely complement the Mac Pro and the aluminum 23" Cinema display. the only thing that sticks out now are the SoundSticks I still use. If they ain't broke…
I have no proof of course at this point, but I suspect the keyboard will remain quite a bit cleaner than the predecessor. I hope so - there doesn't appear to be any way to pop the keys off to clean beneath.
By default, the F3 and F4 keys do Exposé and the Dashboard, as we'd guessed. The F7 through F9 keys rewind/repeat, play/pause, and fast forward/skip even when iTunes is not the front-most application. When a QuickTime movie is frontmost, the controls affect the movie. Since up/down control volume, the dedicated F10 through F12 keys always control system volume - meaning there's still a need for Synergy, since I have keys mapped to adjusted iTunes' volume in Synergy. Plus, sometimes, ctrl-opt-space (for play/pause) is going to be easier to hit than F8.
Oddly, the keyboard shortcuts section of the Keyboard & Mouse system preferences shows no changes. If you hold the "fn" key down, F9 does indeed still do Exposé. For some reason, I was expecting these to be automatically changed when the OS detected I was using the AlBoard, but I can understand why my expectations were off target. Toggling the checkbox status of "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys" toggles the functionality of the "fn" key as well.
BTW, I was glad to see that ctrl-eject was still a shortcut for the old power button and gives you sleep, restart, shutdown, and cancel options. And it appears immediately, unlike before, while ejecting still requires a longer keypress.
What I Said Before
Originally I did not believe this was the final Apple keyboard. My thoughts, in order, are now:
- Replacing the help key makes sense. I think I'd still have rather seen a help key as a shortcut for cmd-?, but doubling up on the keys is fine. The "Help" menu is rather clear, after all.
- I still wish the eject key didn't interrupt the sequence and still existed in the top right corner.
- I guess the extra f-keys can serve whatever purpose you'd like.1
- The pictures aren't quite as ugly in person, but it'd be nice if they were customizable. F3 and F4 are such awkward places.2
- I still think forward delete looks cramped. I would have liked to see the x-arrow below the word "delete."
- The centered 0 still looks odd but I'll get used to it.
- The arrows still don't match what we see in menus and I wish they properly reflected the standard looking arrow.
- Enter isn't in italics.
- I wish the other keys (shift, option, control) had their menu keyboard equivalents on them as well, like the command key does.
All in all, a win, but with a few quirks.
- I tried to set the F19 button to perform something in Synergy, though, and it failed. The F16 through F19 buttons all displayed the same funny symbol in Synergy's key area and pressing the buttons had no effect (the computer just beeped at me). I suspect Synergy might need a bit of an update.↩
- F1 and F2 make more sense to me, but they're occupied by the screen brightness controls (which don't make much sense on a desktop keyboard).↩