Why I didn’t buy Apple’s new Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2
Apple releases new Mac peripherals but they are too expensive and have some serious problems so I'll take a pass
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
Apple announced today its new Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Mouse 2. I was initially quite excited when I found out that there was a new Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2 available. I have no use for the new Magic Mouse 2 though as I stopped using mice years ago.
So I hopped over to the Apple store online and ordered three new Magic Keyboards and three new Magic Trackpads (one for each of my Macs). I thought it would be great to have trackpads and keyboards with built-in batteries, and also Force Touch in the new trackpad would be terrific. But I jumped the gun and ended up cancelling my order.
Why did I cancel my order? Well Apple can thank a mini-review that appeared on Ars Technica, here’s the relevant portion of that review:
Most significantly, the layout, spacing, and general feel of the keyboard have been tweaked to be more in line with the new MacBook, excepting the new full-height function keys. The keys are just a shade larger and a lot flatter, and the left and right arrow keys have been stretched vertically to take up space that was empty on the older keyboard.
Key travel is somewhere in between the old wireless keyboard and the extremely shallow travel in the MacBook, but the feel is more MacBook-y than Apple Wireless Keyboard-y. If you’ve already gotten used to the travel in the MacBook, you’ll have no problem adjusting to this one. If you’re used to the travel in the Apple Wireless Keyboard or in the MacBook Pro or Air, you may hate the way the new one feels.
The Magic Trackpad 2 looks completely different from the original both in aesthetic and size. Because Apple has been able to ditch the AA battery tube, the tracking surface (now white instead of silver, though the frame is still aluminum) extends from edge to edge and the trackpad is thinner and flatter.
The top of the trackpad is roughly flush with the keycaps of the Magic Keyboard, and both accessories are the same height and thickness, so like the Apple Wireless Keyboard and original Magic Trackpad you can sit them next to each other and see that they were clearly designed together.
Ugh. As you can tell from the snippet from the Ars Technica review, key travel in the new Magic Keyboard has been redesigned to be more like the new Macbook’s. I went to an Apple store recently and I absolutely hated the Macbook’s keyboard after typing on it for a few minutes.
I have been suffering with tendinitis and the lack of travel in the Macbook’s keyboard made it feel like I was mashing my fingers on glass or wood when typing. The fact that the new Magic Keyboard is closer to the Macbook’s keyboard in terms of key travel means that it’s a no-go for me. I just can’t use that kind of keyboard comfortably for very long.
Apple doesn’t seem to understand the RSI issues involved with these kinds of keyboards. The lack of travel in the keys seems to make it much harder for some users, and I can’t imagine using such a keyboard for daily use. I think it would make it much more likely that someone would suffer RSI type injuries.
The price of the new keyboard is also something to consider, although it wasn’t what made me cancel my order with Apple. But the new Magic Keyboard will set you back $99. And that’s about $30 more than the previous version, which cost $69.
Problems with the Magic Trackpad 2
When I did my order for the new Magic Trackpad 2, I hadn’t seen what it looks like. I was flabbergasted when I read the Ars Technica review and realized that the surface is now white. White? Are you kidding me, Apple? Ugh.
Perhaps I’m in a tiny minority, but white just doesn’t do it for me. The older version of the Magic Trackpad had a silver aluminum surface that looked quite attractive in an understated way. But now the surface is white and personally I can’t stand the way it looks.
I’m not sure why Apple thought making it white was an improvement. I hate seeing the color white on that kind of peripheral, it’s just dying to get coffee stains and other ugly looking discolorations on it. I don’t even want to know what the Magic Trackpad 2 would end up looking like after a few weeks of heavy use.
Force Touch would be a useful feature to have on my Macs, but I’ve lived without it for a long time so I can get by just fine without the new Magic Trackpad 2. Your mileage may vary in that regard, however. So if the color white doesn’t bother you then by all means grab a new Magic Trackpad 2.
As with the new Magic Keyboard, you’ll also be paying a hefty price increase to get the Magic Trackpad 2. It now costs $129 versus $69 for the previous version. That’s a pretty darn big price increase for a peripheral for your Mac. For some it won’t matter, but for others it could be a deal breaker.
I’ll sit tight with my current Magic Keyboard and Trackpad for now
So I’ll be keeping my current Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad. They work just fine, and my current keyboard is much more comfortable to type on than the new one. And my current Magic Trackpad is the aesthetically pleasing silver aluminum color instead of the garish white of the new Magic Trackpad.
My hope is that Apple will tweak the design of the Magic Trackpad at some point and go back to silver aluminum. I’ll definitely buy one if they do, and hopefully there will be a price decrease back toward $69 eventually. Until then I can easily get by with my current Magic Trackpad.
As for the Magic Keyboard, I will never buy one if it offers similar key travel to the Macbook keyboard. My fingers just cannot tolerate that kind of keyboard, so I’ll be buying a third party keyboard when the time comes to replace my current Magic Keyboard. I checked Amazon, and they had quite a few third party keyboards available for the Mac, so I can easily live without Apple’s keyboard.
I understand, however, that other people may love the new Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2. If you’re one of them, then more power to you. I’m sure they will work great, but they aren’t quite right for me so I have to take a pass on them.
Update: After reading a thread on Reddit, I decided to order the Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard from Amazon. It looks like it’s a great option for those who don’t like Apple’s new Magic Keyboard. It has a rechargeable battery, backlit keys and you can easily switch between a Mac, iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth.