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Computerized Investing > June 11, 2011

Apple Wireless Keyboard

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

I have been using an iPad for a couple of years now and have become rather adept at typing with the on-screen keyboard. While this is functional for Web browsing or typing emails, nothing can replace a real keyboard for typing articles or product reviews (at least for me). So I recently broke down and purchased an Apple Wireless Keyboard. I can pair this lightweight keyboard with a number of devices, including my iPod touch, iPad 2, Motorola Xoom, Macbook Pro and Dell Windows desktop systems.

The Look

The Apple Wireless Keyboard has a very “Apple” look to it. The body itself is made of ultra-thin aluminum, while the keys are white. Having gotten used to the backlit keyboard on my Dell laptop, I think it would be nice if this feature were offered here as well. Unlike previous models, this Apple keyboard lacks a numerical keypad. If you are a serious number-cruncher, this will very likely be a deal-breaker. However, I am looking for a portable keyboard, so I view this as a plus, since it cuts down on the dimensions of the keyboard. Speaking of which, the keyboard’s overall dimensions are 12.8 inches by 7.3 inches by 1.4 inches (length x depth x height). This keyboard does not take up much desktop real estate.

The layout of the keyboard is identical to that of the MacBook Pro. Furthermore, the top row of function keys (F-keys) includes launch keys for Exposé and Dashboard, a media eject key, volume keys, and keys for track advancement, playback and pause.

The top end of the keyboard is a cylindrical bar that houses two AA batteries (down from three in previous models), which are included. It also raises the keyboard at an angle for easier typing. Having used this keyboard for many hours of typing, I haven’t found it uncomfortable to use. However, there is no mechanism to adjust the angle of the keyboard.

In order to install or replace the AA batteries, you unscrew the metal plug on the left side of the tube using a coin or small screwdriver. The power button is located on the right side of the tube, but the keyboard will automatically shut off when not in use to preserve the battery life.

Pairing

The Apple Wireless Keyboard uses Bluetooth technology to connect with other devices and, according to Apple, has a range of roughly 30 feet. I was able to pair it with my iPod touch, iPad 2, Motorola Xoom, MacBook Pro and Dell desktop systems without any problems. After powering on the keyboard, the green power light at the top right of the keyboard will flash, indicating that the keyboard is ready for pairing. Depending on the computer or device you wish to pair the keyboard with, you use the device’s Bluetooth “control panel.” Keep in mind that if you pair the keyboard with a Windows PC, the function and command keys will not match those of a standard Windows keyboard. Other than that, the keyboard works great on a Windows PC (in fact I am typing this review on my Windows 7 Dell PC using the Apple keyboard).

Functionality

As you may know from previous reviews I have written, I am a fan of “clicky-key” keyboards. The Apple Wireless Keyboard is more like a laptop keyboard than the keyboards I prefer, but I still enjoy typing on it. The keys are actually larger than those of the Das Keyboard Professional I use in my office, so there definitely isn’t a cramped feeling when using the Apple Wireless Keyboard.

Verdict

If you are looking for a portable, wireless keyboard, I strongly recommend the Apple Wireless Keyboard. You can use it across a number of devices, including Mac and Windows PCs, and pairing the keyboard with Bluetooth-enabled devices is extremely easy. Typing on the keyboard is comfortable, and the keys are plenty big enough to avoid the feeling of typing in a cramped space. This keyboard may be just the thing I have been looking for to allow me to break free from having to travel with both my iPad and netbook or laptop. At $69, the keyboard’s combination of ease-of-use and portability make it extremely attractive.

Apple Wireless Keyboard

http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC184LL/A?fnode=MTc0MjU4OTY&mco=MTc0MjczMDg

$69 (currently $69 from Amazon.com)

Pros

  • Easy Bluetooth pairing with Apple/Mac and Windows devices
  • Ultra-thin, lightweight design for easy transport
  • Automatic shutoff to preserve battery life

Cons

  • Lacks a dedicated number pad
  • Lacks the tactile feel of a typical keyboard

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @AAII_CI.