The new aluminium iMac (reviewed here) was met with applause from the Macworld team, not least because of the new, thinner styling.
Possibly the most revolutionary feature of the new iMac was its ultra-thin anodised keyboard with an incredibly low profile. Similar in styling to the MacBook keyboard, the new iMac keyboard is an ergonomic solution to the age-old art of typing.
Apple has made two models of its new keyboard. The USB wired version (that we’re testing here) and a wireless model, which we’ll come to soon. However, you don’t need to buy the whole iMac to enjoy Apple’s new-style keyboard. You can purchase one directly from Apple for the princely sum of £29. While this is no bargain in the world of cheap PC keyboards that start at £10 – it is reasonably priced against similar high-specs such as the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (£25, Amazon).
The flat aluminium keyboard replaces Apple’s white version on the new iMacs. Aesthetics aside, the new keyboard’s flat styling gives it a completely different ergonomic feel. It’s lower base makes it much more comfortable for your wrists and, we would imagine, it’s better at preventing RSI and other typing related injuries (insofar as the lower base feels similar to using a keyboard wrist cushion).
Installation was a breeze. After installing Apple’s Keyboard Update 1.1 the new function keys (for dashboard, exposé, and iTunes) worked appropriately. We did, however, notice that the ‘power’ for a single USB device connected didn’t work – for this you will need a new iMac.
The switch to the new keyboard wasn’t completely without problems. For example, we found that one of our favourite Word shortcuts (pressing Shift and F3 to change the case format) no longer worked. So you may find yourself having to rework some of your favourite shortcuts. We also found not having a dedicated keyboard for the Exposé Desktop function annoying.
Using the new keyboard is a vastly different experience to the old model. It takes time to get used to, and we admit to not being comfortable with it for the first few hours. However, moving back to the old keyboard felt spongy after using the new model for a couple of days.