Chris’ Piss: This week I review Apple’s Wireless Keyboard and consequently Apple’s Wired Keyboard as well

I’m pretty much like any other alpha male nowadays, doing my time browsing the aisles of your local Best Buy.  One of the thing that I couldn’t get away from was the undeniable attractiveness of the new Apple Wireless Keyboard.  It’s mini form factor and overall design slickness gave me serious reasons to upgrade(downgrade?) from my Logitech G15.  The original benefit of the G15 was thus: keyboard backlighting meant easier gaming in the dark, the LCD screen meant an additional place to display stats, and the macro keys were programmable for any game.  The reality of it though was this, the keyboard backlighting was useful to a point, but I can already pretty much touch type so thats not so big of a benefit; the LCD screen was an unnecessary diversion because when you avert your eyes from the screen, you die; the only useful app for it I ever found was the teamspeak tracker which simply told you who was talking, not that big of a benefit; and the macro keys I flat out never used – too much work to program and remember what you programmed.

So I bought it. A few things to note: First of all it’s bluetooth, and if you’re computer isn’t a laptop then you’re not likely to have any bluetooth capability out of the box. Secondly it may be fine for Mac users, but its not only missing the number pad, it’s also missing the whole cluster of keys above the arrows. More on this in a bit. So those caveats aside I spent the last month with it under normal gaming and regular cumputer usage scenarios. Here is what I have found.

The Bluetooth adapter firstoff is probably the first big pain in the ass for most people without laptops.  I’m not sure if they were aiming this specifically to replace a laptop keyboard, but that seems kind of silly to me. The only gain is wireless, which now admittedly I really don’t see the benefit of unless it’s being used in a media center.  I also seemed to have some radio interference with the bluetooth portion of the keyboard and the wireless mouse I was using from Logitech, with the mouse randomly nonresponsive. Most annoying, and once I stopped using it, those problems went away.

Secondly the lack of a delete key is pretty much a dealbreaker in a PC keyboard.  I didn’t realize how much I needed this key until I started doing some normal file management and I use the delete key as a quick shortcut to delete files I had sleected.  The backspace key does not work for this function, I tried. Instead of deleting it would go up a directory.  Just weird.  The other time I noticed I needed a delete key was when my PC locked up.  I could not recover because, surprise: control alt delete needs a delete key. WTF. I had to hook up my old keyboard just to enter this key combo.  Also I use end and home a lot when renaming files, so having those keys missing is a big pain in the ass.

Lastly, the unfortunate placement of the FN key puts it traditionally where my left control key is.  As a WoW hunter using control 1 to send my pet into attack, this is the one I missed the most, where I kept hitting FN instead of control wondering why my pet isnt doing diddly squat while I started shooting like I normally do, bringing the big ass Clefthoofs back to me. Ouchies.  Control C for copy and control V for paste also were frequently mistyped. I might add the FN key has absolutely no function on the PC whatsoever.

Problem is I loved the form factor, it gave me space on my desk (in all fairness compared to the G15 any keboard would be svelt) and the design of it was clean and easy to use. Plus it looked great.  So I went and bought the Wired Apple Keyboard and all of the gripes I had with the wireless keyboard are gone now. It has all the keys the wireless one was missing and it even puts the function key at the top putting the control key in its more normal position.  The only difference is the lack of a numlock, but the more that I think about it, the more I realize that I never have numlock off so it’s no big deal. I can’t even remember the last time I used the number pad as arrow keys. (Old PC-XT days?)  I have since moved the wireless keyboard to the media center pc where it works beautifully and looks great even with its limited functionality.

Update: I have found that the clear key above the numberpad is indeed a Numlock key, albeit without the light.  In fact clear is not a windows function either so for all intents and purposes I believe it’s just a Numlock key. So you can still use the numpad as arrows if you like, although the keys are not marked as such.

I’d also like to highlight the prices: The Apple Wireless Keyboard is $79.99 and the Apple Keyboard (Wired) is $49.99. Again for PC usage I’d say stay away from the Wireless and go for the Wired keyboard.   It has all the comforts of a PC keyboard with the slick Apple design.

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