Thought these questions cover the keyboard at a high level:
- How’s the keyboard itself?
- How’s the trackpad experience?
- What about form factor? Lap? Size?
#1: How’s the keyboard itself?
- Okay so the keyboard feels pretty good. That said, I didn’t actually have too much of a problem with the butterfly switches on the last five or so years of MacBooks. And I didn’t think the Smart Keyboard Folio was terrible by any means. (Though I didn’t type a ton of stuff on it.) I was thinking about getting a MacBook Air for the keyboard and portability. But… that’d be stupid. Okay not really. Getting it would make my previous purchase stupid. I have a 16-inch MacBook Pro. There’s no reason to have both the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air really. The hedonic treadmill of devices. The perfect device combination is always the next device combination.
- Oh yeah so the typing experience feels great. The keys feel great. I read a good review (maybe it was The Verge? Or TechCrunch?) where the writer definitely knew all the terms used to describe a keyboard. Squishiness and things like how much the keys move when you’re touching the different corners of the keyboard. I mean, this thing feels the same as the 16-inch MacBook Pro to me. BUT one thing that’s nice about the smaller trackpad is that the front of the device isn’t always cutting into my wrists.
- What kind of caps lock person are you? I went with Esc after finding that I needed to press Esc somewhat often. (I switched it after trying to get out of a crop menu in Figma.) On the MacBook, I usually set caps lock to ctrl and will usually caps lock for any ctrl+tab input.
- Yes, it’d be nice to have brightness and volume on the keyboard. Those are the things I miss on this thing.
#2: How’s the trackpad experience?
- Clicking it down feels cheap compared to the glass/force touch MacBook trackpads. I haven’t used any other kind of laptop for years so I can’t really compare other trackpads. It’s fine though, because I usually just do a finger tap for clicking. But I do have to click all the way when clicking and dragging things (which I feel like I do a lot more in iPadOS than on MacOS but that’s probably a use case thing).
- As for the OS stuff, it works pretty well but there are definitely times where I’m not sure exactly if a click will work as expected. I’m sure with time I’ll get a sense of when a click will or won’t work on something. It also took me a bit to figure out how to turn the page on a split screen view on the Kindle without popping up the multi-page preview each time. (Just click the edges of the split window and it’ll go next/previous. This was one of those things where I went “Oh, duh.” after.)
#3: What about form factor? Lap? Size?
- It’s heavy. My main devices before this were a 16-inch MacBook Pro and an 11-inch iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio case. The weight of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard makes it feel mentally closer to the 16-inch MacBook Pro than the 11-inch iPad Pro. I have a hunch that it’s actually closer to the 11-inch iPad Pro. But I never stopped being delighted by the form factor of the 11-inch iPad Pro. It just felt like the right size to take everywhere.
- I wrote about this (and a lot of the above stuff) in my rambling post, but I really want to see how portable this is when quarantine is over. I doubt I’d take this and the MacBook Pro. The more I’m using the iPad with trackpad support and the Magic Keyboard, the more I think I’d want to have the MacBook Pro when I’m on the go. The two apps I really, really need MacOS for: Screenflow and Descript. (And recently, Starcraft.) But for anything I’m doing that’s writing and static images, I’d really rather do on the iPad Pro. Especially with desktop-class browsing. Or whatever they call it.
- In David Epstein‘s Range, there’s a chapter that’s about Nintendo’s success and one of the devices highlighted is the original Gameboy. There’s a phrase for the philosophy that they used when making it: lateral thinking with withered technology. (Which I’ve read is supposed to translate more like weathered technology.) Anyway, the Smart Keyboard Folio reminded me of the Gameboy in its durability. You could grab a Super Soaker and use it for target practice and it’d be fine. I’d take it everywhere and not worry at all about the surface I was putting it on. I’m somewhat worried about spilling on this but definitely not as much as I am with the MacBook Pro.
- Oh yeah, one GREAT thing about the iPad and The Magic Keyboard (and really any keyboard case for it) is that the processor and whatever else gets hot in a computer isn’t right on your lap. So it doesn’t get hot. That’s a huge plus for longer writing sessions.
That’s probably long enough and I’m realizing I’m sort of just repeating a lot of the points I made with what I wrote this morning. I’ll try making this into a video. The timer on my camera says I’m at 22-minutes. Good writing session on this keyboard.
There are way too many other reviews and I don’t know if I have much of an interesting angle at this point. More thoughts to come as I continue using this.