For starters, it’s flat, or practically flush with the metal on the computer casing, which is unusual for Apple — hey, it’s unusual for any computer company — because normally there’s a bit of raised space, not much, that reveals the keys to be a little higher than the surface they sit on.
But the MacBook is about keeping everything slim and thin, and because this product is about going for a new level of those adjectives, Apple has had to reinvent the keyboard mechanism, switching from the regular and taller scissor mechanism under the keys to a totally new butterfly mechanism which has less height and does pretty much the exact same thing.
Essentially, it translated to less height, but still enough travel to work with your fingers, and if you’re used to a good keyboard, you’ll find the result here works a charm.
The keys have also been redesigned to be bigger with less space between the lettering on the island-style keyboard (known as “chiclet” to some), and Apple has even matched the size of the regular wireless keyboard, providing the 13 inch keyboard in a 12 inch space, which also helps, as it means you don’t have to relearn everything.
We need to note that Apple makes some of the best keyboards in the world, and we always enjoy our time typing away on Apple computers, as the company tends to throw in some of the best hardware from this department.
In fact, laptop keyboards generally rate best from Apple and Lenovo, so it’s nice to see that Apple hasn’t dropped the ball here, even with this new design.
Long term, however, we found the keyboard to be surprisingly comfortable, and the MacBook has one of those keyboards that grows on you over time.
We spent a fair amount of that time working on a novel, and after several thousand words, found the keys really did feel good, with just enough travel to feel like real keys, even if the mechanism was different and the sound was closer to us typing on an iPad keyboard with a slightly different and higher pitched click.
Whether it was spending its time on a wooden desk or on our lap, the keys felt sound, and that slim travel was just enough to make us not feel as if we were striking our fingers on wood or metal, which slim keyboards can often resemble.
This helped us to type with speed, and our error rate was practically nil, only popping up for air every so often when the Force trackpad did the same thing that it was doing on the MacBook Pro review and forcing our cursor somewhere else when our palm touched the trackpad a little too much, something we don’t get on Apple’s conventional generic trackpad on the MacBook Air.
That Force trackpad is still a very cool thing, despite that little bug (and we’re now learning to keep our palms well and truly away the trackpad as we type), with no real button, and only a semblance of haptic movement tricking you into thinking there’s movement there.
Apple has now told us how this little trick works, and it’s quite cool: rather than provide the typical haptic vibration resistance against the back of the button, the trackpad moves a very, very, very, very, very small distance left and right, tricking your finger (and your brain) into thinking that this is a clicking response.