Sign in with Microsoft

Apple’s ultra-thin MacBook impressed us for a brand new product, and the keyboard has really grabbed our attention. But how good is it? We’ve taken an extended play with the keyboard to see how well developed Apple’s all new ultra-slim keyboard plays with fingers.

There’s a lot of talk over the new keyboard Apple is using in its MacBook computer, and that’s because it’s a first generation product.

The thing is first generation products often have issues, and while Apple may make some of the best keyboards in the business — up their with Lenovo, for what it’s worth — messing around with a keyboard is generally considered a “no no”, and that’s because of the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

We’re passionate about keyboards, too, and being writers, you can probably understand why. Most of our time is either spent playing with new gadgets or writing them up, and so we want our keyboards to be strong, comfortable, and long lasting.

A good keyboard has all of those qualities, and generally stays the same for as long as possible.

That’s the thing about a good keyboard: it doesn’t need to be remade, and fiddling with something that works isn’t always a great idea, because you might break something in the process, as most people know.


But Apple couldn’t just put an old keyboard into its new MacBook for logistical reasons. That is, the old keyboard it would use — that tried and tested and truly excellent island-key keyboard that we’ve loved on the MacBook Air and Pro for years now — wasn’t suitable, simply because it was too big.

Or, to be more precise, too thick.

You might look at a keyboard and wonder how bits of plastic could be thick, but there’s more to a keyboard than just those square blocks with numbers, letters, and punctuation printed on them.

There’s the mechanism beneath the key itself, with this playing a big part of how a keyboard is designed.


The MacBook Air keyboard. Still excellent, but totally different.

On conventional keyboard, it is generally a scissor mechanism, which is two cross-sections of plastic or metal that squeeze down when the key is pressed, allowing you to have some travel when you strike a key with a finger.

And we need travel as we type because for some reason, it just feels more natural. Try a keyboard without travel — one of those soft-button keyboards, for example, that tablets tend to receive — and you’ll see why it’s such an issue, with your fingers feeling like they’re hitting a hard material and presses that don’t feel real.

Even Microsoft canned its Surface keyboard made without travel, likely because no one liked it, this reviewer included.