Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A mech keyboard nerd's thoughts on 2017 MacBook Pro keyboard

My old Thinkpad has reached its end of life and so the company issued me a new notebook. By default, they issued a MacBook Air, but I tried to justify for a MacBook Pro. The only way I could get a Pro, according to the guy who looked at my job scope, was that I would be assigned a 2015 MacBook Pro 13", the one that has many ports. I wasn't thrilled about an older model but I know that I will not like the new MacBook Pro (the space grey with Touch Bar and ONLY USB-C ports) due to many unpleasant stories I read about it. 

New MacBook Pro from work. My company is cool, in this sense!
So, it was a shock to me that when I tore open the packaging to see that I was given a 2017 MacBook Pro 13", the one without a Touch Bar (a.k.a. MacBook Escape), instead of an older 2015 model. I was not sure how I felt about it. On one hand, having the latest and greatest is always good - beautiful & bright retina screen, super slim and light - I dare say that it is smaller and lighter than even the MacBook Air. On the other hand, I was pretty worried about the dumb, unreliable, poorly built "butterfly" keyboard, the lack of (Thunderbolt and USB-A) ports, no Mag Safe 2. Above all, I am really worried about the keyboard. Me, being a mechanical keyboard aficionado.

ooooh! so slick and classy and beautiful!

The MacBook Pro 13" is slightly smaller than the MacBook Air 13"

See, I can't even attach my mechanical keyboards to the MacBook because it does not have a USB-A port! I need a #donglelife just to do so! It's kinda ridiculous, at times.

The keyboard (and trackpad) is important to the overall experience of using a laptop because that is what a user touch and feel a computer on a daily basis. Sure, the retina screen is equally important and this screen is just so beautiful. Coming from 4 years of MacBook Air, retina screen is astounding to behold and no one should go back to ugly non-retina screen ever. But the keyboard where you spent the days click clacking on is equally important because the feel of it will determine how pleasant or unpleasant your experience with the MacBook Pro is going to be like.

I didn't like the keyboard in the beginning. The stupid way they made the left/right arrow keys to be full size made locating the arrow key cluster very difficult and confusing. The smaller travel is not satisfying. No way this is better than my old MacBook Air's scissor switch nor any of the Topre or MX mechanical keyboards I am using.

But after using it daily for almost 4 weeks, I have to admit that it does grow on you. The nice click clack sound it makes, I think due to its shorter travel, thus able to hit the bottom pretty easily, feels like the sound I get when typing on a clicky switch. I don't need to feel the actuation. Instead, the sound already tells me that I have actuated, so I can move on to the next key - and surprisingly, this experience made my typing to be pretty fast and accurate.

look at the height of the keyboard; very slim and very short travel...

There were some complaints on dust or bread crumbs getting into the key, causing them not to work and as such, Apple had to replace the whole keyboard(!) so I was careful not to eat near the Mac, which is also ridiculous that we had to adjust our lifestyle over a machine. Let's see how this goes in the next 6 months or one year. Surely I will nimble some food. Will the keyboard fails?

The other complaint was that after 7 months, frequently used keys will see their lettering being smudge - more like the black layer of paint/plastic being worn off. This is typical in keyboard but this is the first time I hear of one tearing away in less than a year. If that is true, then the quality of the plastic used are really poor and Apple should be ashamed of themselves.

So far, my experience with the keyboard is pleasant. Hope this keeps up!


A mech keyboard nerd's thoughts on 2017 MacBook Pro keyboard

My old Thinkpad has reached its end of life and so the company issued me a new notebook. By default, they issued a MacBook Air, but I tried ...