Apple's new Mac updates have come with a bit of a surprise - a new standard and shortened keyboard. The new shorten keyboard looks exactly like the wireless keyboard in size, shape and number of keys, or the lack there of. Of course, the big difference is that the new keyboard has a wire running from it, an ugly old wire, so is the new keyboard for the better or for the worse?
I, for one, don't like the newer version. I much prefer the older one which has more functionality given those extra numeric keys. I also simply like the look and feel of the numeric keyboard, and even though some people may not use or need that numeric keypad as much, for others, like myself, it's a real must have. When I first saw the previous super-thin keyboards I was completely aghast! I thought, how could they possibly even consider such a thing? It was too small, too flimsy looking, and those dinky, little, weeny sized keys....... I mean, come on, how could anyone who was anybody possibly type anything on any of those things?
I was wrong, of course, totally dead wrong and I admit it.
Yes, as I found out rather quickly, the very first time I used one, these new keyboards were far more than usable - they were preferable! I found that contrary to what I was expecting, I could actually type faster and better on those tiny Chiclets sized keys after all! The smaller wireless version of this keyboard is ok, but when you give it a cord it is not exactly what I would call an improvement. The good thing, however, is that Apple gives you option of replacing the new wired keyboard with the old one as a 'no cost' option when ordering a new Mac. Some people may actually like the newer wired keyboard and all I can say is they can have it. It's not for me, I'll take the older numeric keyboard any old day.
As much as I like the previous keyboards, both the wireless version and the numeric, and as much as I hate the new wired shortened keyboard, there is one keyboard that I'm dreaming that Apple would come out with, and one that I think they will eventually do, namely - a multi-touch version! Yes, that's right, just as you have probably guessed, Apple could easily come out with a keyboard similar to the ones built into the MacBooks - complete with that giant multi-touch track pad!
How cool would that be? Very, very cool if you ask me!
This would be perfect in many ways, as it would suddenly add multi-touch gesturing to not only newer Mac's, but the older ones as well! That sure as hell would beat adding an expensive touch screen I would think, wouldn't you? Microsoft is touting the advantages of multi-touch in Windows 7 - hah! Windows 7 approach means that most PC's out there would not be able to run it without considerable and expensive modifications. In many cases, that only would entail adding an expensive touch screen, but a lot of machines might have to have their hardware beefed up in order to support such a screen! Not pretty and not cheap.
The multi-touch track pad keyboard, of course, would avoid all of that nasty mess, and those nasty associated costs. Considering that such a keyboard would sell for a fraction of the coast of a touch screen, I'm really quite amazed that Apple hasn't pushed the idea of a multi-touch keyboard sooner. To my way of thinking - it's a natural. One of the big advantages of such a keyboard would be in helping to avoid the possibility of repetitive strain injury to the wrists or arms that I found when personally using the HP Touch Smart screen! Don't get me wrong, touch screens are nice and all, and they certainly have their place, but they are not the type of thing that you would want to use all day long. I found that out the hard way after using the Touch Smart playing Mahjong. It's simply not natural to hold your arms up in a certain position for too long, otherwise there is a price to pay and that price is usually paid in pain! Don't believe me? Just try and hold your arms up for ten minutes straight and see what I mean? You can move your arms and wrists all around, up and down, but after awhile your arms at least will begin to feel the strain and the pain!
For most things that you can do on a vertical touch screen, you can just as easily do on a smaller and flatter track pad keyboard, but with much less risk of injury to your wrists or arms. I think that there is a need for both touch screens and multi-touch track pad keyboards, but for prolong use and for safety considerations, as well as the cost, multi-touch keyboards are the way to go.
So, is the new shorten standard keyboard for better, or is it for the worse?
As a standard keyboard, for me anyway, it's definitely for the worse. However, because you can easily have it replaced with the original standard keyboard, it's really somewhat moot of a point. If, on the other hand, Apple were ever to introduce a standard wired multi-touch track pad keyboard, or an optional wireless version, well that would be definitely for the better and I can only hope that Apple sees the light and offers it before someone else beats them to the punch.
And that's my 2 cents 4 this Wednesday, March 04, 2009