Over the weekend, we learned some preliminary details about Apple’s planned updates for two of their most popular Mac accessories, the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Mouse, in the form of FCC filings. Aside from new and improved connectivity thanks to Bluetooth 4.2, both accessories appear to have design deviations from their existing models, as detailed by the rough sketches accompanying the FCC filings. Based on these sketches, I decided to more fully visualize the changes Apple could be planning for an all new and more modern wireless keyboard based on other modern Apple product designs.
As someone who uses his iPad for email and writing as much as for media consumption, I’m a big fan of physical keyboards. My current favorites are the ClamCase Pro and Brydge, each of which offers a near-Macbook quality moving keyboard.
But if you’ve ever been deterred by the bulk or weight of a full moving keyboard, the Libre – a new iPad Air/2 keyboard case that launched yesterday on Kickstarter – may be worth a look. The keyboard itself is just 5mm thick and weighs only 200g, yet manages to squeeze in a backlight and the ability to switch between up to three devices. I’ve been using a prototype version for the past few days …
There are a few companies that make skins specifically for Apple’s keyboards to add icons for the various shortcuts that pros use daily in apps like Logic Pro and Final Cut. I’ve tried a few in the past, but the benefits never seemed to outweigh the tradeoff of putting a clunky rubber skin over Apple’s masterfully built keyboard. The latest Logic keyboard I received in for review from EditorsKeys, however, has actually won me over and proven up to the task of permanently replacing my stock Apple keyboard.
We recently reviewed one of our favorite keyboard solutions for the iPad, Logitech’s Ultrathin iPad Keyboard Cover. However, we have seen a few new competitors since then. Most notably: ZAGG’s new KeysPRO line, which we were able to get our hands on at IFA last month. The ZAGGKeys PRO caught our eye with its backlit keys, rugged build quality and battery life of up to three weeks at eight hours a day. It has potential to become the go-to iPad keyboard when it goes on sale at the end of the month (full review on the way), but one keyboard recently released already has it beat, at the very least, on battery life…
Logitech’s new Solar Keyboard Folio for iPad 2 and 3 comes with one impressive claim: the ability to type for two hours a day for two years on a full charge…even in the dark. That claim combined with a solid Logitech keyboard similar to what we’re used to from the company’s past iPad products, we essentially get solar power and a folio-style case added to the Ultrathin Keyboard cover for an extra $30.
I have had long enough since its release to put it to the test and have a couple of thoughts:
We often get review items that do not merit their own review for a variety of reasons. Some might have gotten to us late after we have already read reviews, while others might be smaller niche items or some bigger ticket items that might not have blown us away, but they are still interesting nonetheless. Still, we think these guys are all noteworthy…
A recent interview with Google’s cofounder Sergey Brin received a lot of attention due to his view that Apple and Facebook are the biggest threats to the open Internet. Today, Brin took some time to clarify his thoughts about the coverage of his interview, which he feels has been “particularly distorted.” In a Google+ post, Brin noted he has “always admired Apple’s products,” and he currently uses an iMac (Imac?):
Moreover, I have much admiration for two of the companies we discussed — Apple and Facebook. I have always admired Apple’s products. In fact, I am writing this post on an Imac and using an Apple keyboard I have cherished for the past seven years.
Logitech first started producing solar wireless keyboards for PCs earlier this year but didn’t make a Mac version until a few months ago. The PC version got incredibly solid reviews at Amazon so I thought this would be a good pick up for my Mac workstation when it was released. As a veteran of Apple’s original Wireless Keyboard, I was sick of dealing with battery and connectivity issues plus I wanted the full layout with numeric keypad, extra function keys extra and full arrows. I’ve been using it almost exclusively for the past three months.
First, I’ll say that the solar panels make the footprint about 25% bigger than a standard full Apple keyboard. That can be a hassle if you are cramped for space at your desk. On the other hand, the keyboard feels a bit more solid, perhaps because of the increased size and weight. Keystrokes are very similar feel to Apple’s standard keyboards and spacing and layout are all but identical. Logitech adds a power switch and battery tester at the top right.
I got the piano black version because it matches my monitor and my Logitech Mouse (which also works with this USB dongle) but there are 5 colors to choose from. I imagine the standard “silver” will be the most popular.
As far as the solar is concerned, I never had a single problem with charging or connection. I have a florescent lit basement office and a workspace with natural light from a shaded back yard and both kept the keyboard charged at all times. The keyboard usually sits in front of a large 30″ monitor, so that probably helps. But from reviews I’ve read, almost no one has a problem keeping this charged with normal office lighting so I don’t think this is a concern.
There are some tradeoffs for having solar, however…
Despite Apple vowing to audit fifteen of their suppliers following accusations of pollution from Chinese NGOs, a report from China Labor Watch says 1,000 employees of a Jingmo Electronics Corporation factory in Shenzhen staged a strike earlier this week. The factory is owned by one of the world’s largest keyboard manufacturers, Jingyuan Computer Group, and happens to be an OEM for Apple, among others including LG and IBM. The Chinese Labor Watch organization is particularly urging Apple to take responsibility:
“China Labor Watch calls upon Apple, IBM and the other clients of this factory to assume responsibility for these workers’ dissatisfaction and work with the factory to improve the working conditions in the factory. We particularly urge Apple to take responsibility, as there are more than 300 workers working on the Apple keyboard assembly line.”
The workers decided to strike over management’s decision to enforce nightly overtime, adding a 6 p.m.- 12 p.m nightly shift to their regular hours of 7-11:30 a.m. and 1-5 p.m. That accounts for approximately 120 hours of overtime per month. They were also refused the right to work this overtime on the weekends, which would have required the company to pay workers double time under Chinese Labor Law. Chinese Labor Watch explains there were other concerns raised by employees as well: