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New MacBook Pro 16" announced but all I hear is KEYBOARD!

Apple announced a new MacBook Pro 16" a couple of days ago. They had a small event for reporters to show off the new MacBook. It replaced the 15" model, so there are only two MacBook Pro models for sale starting today - the 13" and the 15". There are a lot of enhancements to this model but all I read from the tons of news coverage are the new scissor-switch keyboard!

As a mechanical keyboards aficionado, my head was nodding at every review talking about the importance of keyboard to the overall user experience. There's a podcast over at Upgrade where Jason Snell interviewed the product manager of MacBook Pro and they discussed about the research work which went into designing the new keyboard. The topic covers area like the feel when typing, getting your fingers oriented by feeling the layout of the keys, the sound that typing made and how it sound to you and people around you. They also discussed why the gap between keys are wider in this new keyboard and this is interesting because the scissor switch have a higher key travel. Key travel is the distance that the key has to move when it is pressed before it reach the bottom. Mechanical keyboards usually have very high key travel but they have a point midway when they key actuates and provide feedback to your fingers. According to the product manager, when there is high key travel, the moment you press the key, your finger might touch the adjacent keys and create unwanted key presses. Therefore, they have to have more spacing between keys.

Many people do not appreciate the importance of keyboard. As long as it types the words they keyed in, that's all they want to see. But really, keyboard is as integral to the overall user experience of the product as say, your screen or the performance of the machine. If the keyboard is unreliable, or the typing experience is unsatisfactory, it will affect your overall impression of the computer.

I shared about my thoughts on mechanical keyboards before:

At the end of the day, a keyboard is very individual. And like a car, you need to take it out for a spin before you get the feel and settle for one. Just like a car, taking a 30 minute spin may not be enough. You gotta use the keyboard for a few weeks before you can conclude if you like it, which make this mechanical keyboard a very expensive and time consuming hobby.

To me, I have used the alps for many years. My natural tendency and love is for an alps keyboard. That made my option very limited, which is just the Matias range.

I have recently bought a Razer (MX Blue) and a Choc Mini (MX Black). So far I like the Blue better than the Black. It's actually a no brainer because I know I like the tactile feel of the Blue. Linear switch like the Black has no difference to a rubber dome found in laptops today. But since so many gamers swear by Blacks and linear switch, I can't resist not trying a linear switch for just RM180. One day I will do a review of the Choc Mini.

My daily driver now is a MX Brown even though I have at least 6 other keyboards in my store room, waiting for their turn to be used. Aside from different key switches, the different keyboard size plays a role. I don't like the full size keyboard anymore (the one with the numpad). My preference is a TKL (ten key less, the 10 keys that are taken out are the numpad keys). I also have smaller ones called 60% which are almost like the MacBook keyboard, minus the Function rows. There's tons of different sizes and different switches. It's a very interesting area of computing that many have overlooked.


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