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If you recently purchased an Apple iMac, you’ll have received one of their all-new Magic Keyboards in the box (along with a Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2).

However, if you either need to replace it or you want to buy one for a second Apple device, they don’t come cheap. Buying it through the Apple website will set you back $99 USD (£79), though you can sometimes find lower rates on Amazon.

So is it really worth the money? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Magic Keyboard and try to decide whether or not that price tag is justified.

Why Is the Magic Keyboard So Well-Regarded?

Firstly, let’s take a look at why some Mac users swear by the Magic Keyboard, regardless of cost.

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Typing

For those who don’t know, the Magic Keyboard was only released in October 2015. It was the successor to the Apple Wireless Keyboard which had been a mainstay of Mac users since it was first introduced way back in 2003.

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From a pure usability perspective, the biggest change between the two is the way the individual keys behave while typing. Given that typing is ultimately the main function of a keyboard, this is an important modification.

According to Apple’s website, they: “re-engineered the scissor mechanism to increase key stability by 33 per cent and optimized key travel. Together with a new lower profile, these improvements make typing with comfort and precision a breeze.

It’s clearly marketing jargon, but it’s also true; typing does feel easier 9 Alternative iOS Keyboards To Make Your Typing Easier Or More Fun 9 Alternative iOS Keyboards To Make Your Typing Easier Or More Fun When Apple finally stopped acting like an overprotective parent and introduced third-party keyboards, everyone went keyboard-crazy. Read More , “cleaner”, and more precise.

No More Batteries

The biggest drawback of all wireless keyboards is their reliance on batteries. If you’re in the middle of working on an important document and your batteries die, the last thing you want to do is lose your train of thought and drag yourself to a shop to buy replacements.

That is no longer a problem with the Magic Keyboard.

Apple decided to replace single-use AA batteries with an integrated Lithium-Ion rechargeable cell, which only needs to be charged once per month with a Lightning cable Lightning Cable Review Round-Up and Giveaway Lightning Cable Review Round-Up and Giveaway Read More . The Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 also got the same treatment.

Apple also claims that a mere two-minute charge will be enough for “an extended working period” — whatever that means.

Perfect for Macs (And All Other Apple Devices)

Arguably the most “magical” thing about the Magic Keyboard is that it will automatically pair with your iMac with no user input. Simply switch on your computer, plug in the keyboard, and the two devices will automatically recognize each other.

Apple don’t necessarily make it clear that the keyboard can also be paired Type on Your iPhone or iPad Using Your Mac Keyboard Type on Your iPhone or iPad Using Your Mac Keyboard Use your MacBook or Apple keyboard to type on your iPhone or iPad, without wrestling with the touchscreen. Read More with their other gadgets such as iPads and Apple TVs Here's Why Your iPad Needs a Bluetooth Keyboard Here's Why Your iPad Needs a Bluetooth Keyboard For productivity to be really achievable on an iPad, a physical keyboard is needed. Read More . On the back of the keyboard there is just an on-off switch, a Lightning port, and an antenna bar – the old Apple Wireless Keyboard’s ability to hold down the power button and make it pair with new devices has been removed.

Actually, all you need to do is head to Settings > Bluetooth on an iDevice and turn the slider on. It will automatically find the Magic Keyboard and you just need to tap/click on it to pair the two.

iOS Works Great With Keyboards

Using a Magic Keyboard in conjunction with Apple’s mobile operating system really starts to unlock it’s full potential, especially with regard to the iPad Pro. Travelling with just your tablet and your keyboard while still maintaining high levels of productivity suddenly becomes a very real possibility.

Of course, the cost of a 128 GB iPad Pro and a Magic Keyboard is almost $1,000 USD – there might be better (Apple-based) alternatives available, but it certainly unlocks some interesting potential.

Apple iPad Pro (128 GB, Wi-Fi, Space Gray) - 12.9" Display Apple iPad Pro (128 GB, Wi-Fi, Space Gray) - 12.9" Display Retina Display Buy Now At Amazon $813.79

Here are some of the most popular and useful keyboard tricks, keep in mind that you can press and hold cmd from within any app to see a complete list of available commands. There are hundreds more – try experimenting with your most-used Mac shortcuts, they will probably work.

  • cmd + tab: Switch between apps
  • cmd + space: Search
  • cmd + B: Bold
  • cmd + I: Italics
  • cmd + U: Underline
  • cmd + X/C/V: Cut. copy, and paste
  • cmd + R: Refresh web page
  • cmd + [: Back (browser)
  • cmd + ]: Forward (browser)
  • cmd + T: New tab
  • cmd + shift + T: New incognito tab

It’s worth pointing out that these shortcuts work with any bluetooth keyboard that you connect to your iOS device, but if you’re after a keyboard to use with your desktop it’s nice to think it has some mobile potential too.

What Are Its Drawbacks?

Despite all the positives, it would be foolish to think that Magic Keyboards are perfect.

No Number Pad

The biggest single issue with Apple’s offering is the lack of a number pad. If you do a lot of work in spreadsheets, financial programs, or math/engineering software, this is a serious annoyance. If you’re already used to typing on a laptop, it’s not so bad.

The Magic Keyboard also lacks keys such as Page Up, Page Down, Home, and End – yes, there are workarounds, but they’re not as straightforward as a simple key.

We can only assume that Apple made the decision for size/portability purposes, but given most Mac users will leave their keyboard on a desk most of the time, the judgment doesn’t really stack up.

Features

The Magic Keyboard doesn’t boast as many features as it’s third-party competitors.

Aside from the numberpad, the biggest omission is arguably backlit keys. They’ve been a standard on Apple’s laptops for years, so why were they left out of this product? This somewhat limits the keyboard’s usability (and its aesthetics).

It’s also incompatible with non-Apple products. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, it’s par for the course with Apple, but it makes justifying its hefty price tag a lot harder if you want to use it with your Windows laptop or Linux server.

Cost

As mentioned, if you buy a new iMac you’ll get a Magic Keyboard included. However, if you need to buy a replacement or you want to get one for some of your other Apple devices, you’ll have to shell out almost $100.

Apple Magic Keyboard (MLA22LL/A) Apple Magic Keyboard (MLA22LL/A) With an improved scissor mechanism beneath each key for increased stability, as well as optimized key travel and a lower profile, the Magic Keyboard provides a remarkably comfortable and precise typing experience. Buy Now At Amazon $99.00

Given the lack of compatibility and lack of features, it’s a lot of money. The good news? There are alternatives available Is Apple's Official Keyboard The Best Choice For Your Mac? Is Apple's Official Keyboard The Best Choice For Your Mac? There's no denying that Apple makes great keyboards, but what other options are there for Mac typists? Read More .

AppleCare

With a keyboard that costs $99 and an AppleCare plan that costs another several hundred dollars (depending on your device), it might be reasonable to expect your Magic Keyboard to be covered.

applecare

The bad news – it isn’t (though there is a caveat).

According to Apple’s terms and conditions:

In addition to the Apple-branded product and accessories contained in the original packaging, “Covered Equipment” includes the following according to your Plan:

(i) Under APP for Mac, (a) one compatible Apple-branded display if purchased at the same time as the Covered Equipment, (b) an Apple-branded mouse, Magic Trackpad, Apple Battery Charger and keyboard if included with the Covered Equipment (or purchased with a Mac mini or Mac Pro), or (c) an AirPort Express or AirPort Extreme Base Station, AirPort Time Capsule, Apple memory modules (RAM) and Apple USB SuperDrive if used with the Covered Equipment and originally purchased by you no earlier than two years before the Covered Equipment purchase.

In layman’s terms, that means unless you got a free Magic Keyboard with your iMac, or you bought one at the same time as you bought a Mac mini or Mac Pro, you will not be covered. If you bought a keyboard as a standalone item for use with other Apple products, you won’t be protected by AppleCare.

Suddenly, $99 is looking a bit pricey…

Does it Represent Value for Money?

It’s hard not to feel that Apple’s Magic Keyboard could have been so much more. The release doesn’t feel like enough of an upgrade over their previous wireless version to warrant a $30 USD jump in price.

That said, it really does work exceptionally well with iMacs and other iDevices, and as you’d expect from Apple, it is flawlessly designed. Is that enough to justify spending $100 on one? Perhaps — it depends on how integrated you are with the Apple ecosystem.

Its best hidden feature is probably the way it can control your iPad/iPhone, but ultimately that functionality can be replicated by other products such as Logitech’s Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 offering.

Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard for Mac, iPad, iPhone - Silver/Black Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard for Mac, iPad, iPhone - Silver/Black Logitech Easy-Switch Bluetooth technology: Press one button to instantly toggle between typing on your Mac, iPad and iPhone Buy Now At Amazon $80.13

Have coughed up for a Magic Keyboard? Why? Was it worth the price?

Image Credits:Man scratching his head by focal point via Shutterstock

  1. Jean-Francois Messier
    April 1, 2016 at 2:26 am

    I am not using any Apple computer. And never will. I work under Linux at home, and Windows at work, 'cause I have no choice. However, I purchased Apple Aluminium keyboards full-size, as I require a numeric keypad (especially for accented letters under Windows). I love their chicklet-like keys and the dual-purpose top function keys. I do no miss the Insert key that is on Windows but not on Apple keyboard. I have 6 (SIX!) of such keyboards, and I can only hope that this aluminium keyboard will not disappear from the stores. Keyboards are the only Apple devices I use, but I love them........

  2. Cha
    March 31, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    And how about an ergonomically shaped Apple keyboard. Rectangle is pretty and minimalist, but it is killing my wrists

  3. likefun butnot
    March 31, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    We have a few of them in my office. I don't like them. They need to be charged a lot more often than the Logitech and Microsoft keyboards on our PCs and I strongly dislike Apple's key layout, not just for the loss of the number keys but also the missing cursor movement cluster (no Home/End et al) and a Delete key that functions as Backspace. They also have very short key travel, a common problem for more or less all Apple keyboards in the last 10 years, but that means a lot more accidental keystrokes.

    My ongoing impression is that Apple doesn't really understand what makes input devices good or usable. Its on-screen keyboards, laptop keyboards and all of its pointing devices are every bit as execrable.

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