Drumming Your Fingers on a Table

Engadget has a rumor and purported images of a keyboard said to be ready for the upcoming iMac from Apple. The keyboard is stripped down to the bare essentials in materials but keeps the expected keys and even looks to add some function keys.

I'll assume this is the new keyboard. I like most of what I see. A few observations:

  • The keys are like the ones found on the MacBook - I like the keys on the MacBook. Lots of folks dismissed the chiclet style keys, but I don't mind them. Then again, I don't mind the current Apple keyboards either, but if you read some Apple forums you'd find that plenty of people hate that keyboard. I used to be a keyboard snob and would only use a Microsoft natural board. I've since mellowed and even traded in my disgusting natural at work for a clean new Dell that seems to borrow some design cues from Apple.

  • No Apple key - The Command key currently has an Apple logo on it. The trouble is, the Apple is never referred to in documentation. Users are told to hit the command key and keyboard shortcuts list the feature key logo. This is very confusing for switchers. At least it isn't like the old days with the closed apple key and the open apple key. Anyway, everyone is crying fake on the keyboard because the apple logo is gone. I'll interpret it as Apple drinking some of their own simplify juice and getting rid of the confusing icon for the key that is never called the apple key. Wouldn't it be great if Microsoft did the same and got rid of the silly Windows key?

  • Design - I like the clean design and the design looks like it will be easier to keep clean! While the clear plastic enclosure on the current Apple keyboard looks nice, it's really just a window display for dirt and crud.

  • Design Part 2 - By refining the keyboard down to its simplest form, Apple may be opening the door for 3rd parties again. One of the side effects of Apple's minimalist design is the non-minimals (what kind of word is that?) will accessorize the crap out of it. Look how many billions of dollars there are in the iPod accessories market. Do you like your keyboard to slant forward? No problem. Someone will come out with a slab of plastic that this keyboard will click in to. Like more USB ports? Sure, how about a glowing blue enclosure with 6 USB ports out the side. Want an iPod dock in your keyboard? Seems like that would be easy enough to mold in the plastic as well. Now, you won't be able to change the curve of the keyboard, but if that's your style, you wouldn't be happy with this keyboard anyway and would already know what you like (see earlier comment about keyboard snob). This already happened with the Mac mini. Companies like Plasticsmith rolled out multiple products to fit your Mac mini needs.

In the end, if Apple can get you excited about your computer over $20 worth of keyboard parts, that's great for them. If they can't, then so what. You can pick from hundreds of keyboards out there.

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