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The MacBook keyboard looks different than usual. How does the MacBook keyboard "feel"?
Upon seeing the MacBook keyboard for the first time, some with good memories, or knowledge of computer history, may have been vaguely reminded of the oft panned "chiclet" keyboard that shipped with IBM's ill-fated PC jr.
Photo Credit: Flickr user cdevroe
Upon first glance, the MacBook keyboard is noticable as it appears to have large "gaps" between the keys. However, the "striking surface" of each key is effectively identical to previous PowerBook and iBook models, but the MacBook keys go straight down instead of having a beveled edge. The MacBook keys also are slightly "sunken" so that they will not leave marks on the display.
As first pointed out by reader Andrew of Gulf Coast, Australia, referencing the internal-only Apple "Service Source" repair manual, the MacBook keyboard is quite different in design compared to earlier Apple notebook keyboards. It is built into the top of the case without the "top/bottom shields" of previous models. Apple's repair guide notes that "the top case includes heatstaked keyboard, webbing, EMI shield, a small rectangular foam pad, and attached trackpad cable." Effectively, the entire "top" of the keyboard "half" of the notebook lifts off.
A quick review of a MacInTouch Reader Report provides a full gamut of opinions regarding the MacBook keyboard, ranging from liking "it more than any PowerBook keyboard" to being "the worst laptop keyboard in the last ten years". As one would expect, the majority seem to think that the keyboard looks different, and some think it takes some getting used to, but it's certainly acceptable.
That much different from the keyboard on any other Apple portable I've used. It certainly looks much more "integrated" with the machine (mostly because it's no longer a removable part) but I'd be hard pressed to describe the "action," "response," and "travel" of the keys to be very different from those on the MacBook Pro, PowerBook, or iBook G4.
When using the keys, they're pushed flush with the casing beneath them. There are no "dividers" other than open space between the keys, so there should be no worries of fingers getting bruises from bumping into hard objects all day long.
At first look it seemed like there would be no travel to the key, they looked short and stubby, but in fact the travel is really good and the keyboard could rate as one of the best out there. There's no flex (as in zero, none, zilch) to this keyboard, it is completely firm due to the way it is designed.
Much like the glossy display, you may wish to try out the MacBook keyboard in person and determine whether or not you like the way it feels. After all, your opinion ultimately should be the only one that matters to you.