If you need to replace your Magic keyboard or want to buy one for a second Apple device, they don't come cheap. Buying it from Apple's website gives you $ 99 back, though you can sometimes find lower prices on Amazon.
Is It Really Worth the Money? Let's look at the pros and cons of the Magic keyboard and try to decide if the price is justified.
Why is the Magic Keyboard so popular?
First, let's take a look at why some Mac users swear by the Magic keyboard regardless of cost.
(Note: If you're not sure what a Magic Keyboard is, check out our explanatory article to keep yourself up to date.)
The Magic Keyboard was released in October 2015. It was the successor to the Apple Wireless Keyboard, which has been a mainstay of Mac users since its inception in 2003.
From a pure usability perspective, the biggest change between the two is how each key behaves when you type. Since typing is ultimately the primary function of a keyboard, this is an important modification.
Here's how Apple describes the redesigned buttons:
With a stable scissor mechanism under each key as well as an optimized key travel and a low profile, Magic Keyboard offers a remarkably comfortable and precise typing experience.
It is clearly marketing jargon, but it is also true; Typing feels easier, "cleaner" and more precise.
No more batteries
The biggest disadvantage of all wireless keyboards is their dependence on batteries. The last thing you want to lose your train of thought and drag yourself to a store to buy replacements is when you're working on an important document and your batteries are dead.
This is no longer a problem with the Magic keyboard.
Apple has decided to replace single-use AA batteries with a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion cell that only needs to be charged once a month with a Lightning cable.
Apple also claims that a two-minute charge is enough to keep you powered for "longer hours of work," whatever that means.
Perfect for other Apple devices
Probably the most "magical" thing about the Magic Keyboard is that it automatically pairs with your Mac without user input. Just turn on your computer, plug in the keyboard, and the two devices will automatically recognize each other.
The keyboard can also be paired with other Apple devices like iPads and Apple TVs – although it's not immediately apparent how. On the back of the keyboard there is only an on / off switch, a Lightning connector and an antenna strip. The ability of the old Apple Wireless Keyboard to hold the power button and pair it with new devices has been removed.
To pair a Magic Keyboard with an iOS device, you need to go to Settings> Bluetooth on an iOS device and turn the slider on. The Magic Keyboard will be found automatically and all you have to do is tap on it to pair the two.
Using a Magic keyboard in conjunction with Apple's mobile operating system is really starting to realize its full potential, especially with the iPad Pro in mind. Traveling with just your tablet and keyboard while being productive is suddenly becoming an option.
Of course, the cost of an entry-level 128 Pro iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard is nearly $ 1,000 – there may be better alternatives, but it certainly opens up interesting potential.
What are the disadvantages of the Magic Keyboard?
Despite all the positives, it would be foolish to think that Magic Keyboards are perfect.
No number pad
The single biggest problem with Apple's entry-level Magic Keyboard is the lack of a number pad. If you do a lot of work in spreadsheets, finance programs, or math / engineering software, this is a serious nuisance.
The basic Magic keyboard also lacks keys like 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 reasons of size / portability. However, since most Mac users leave their keyboard on a desk most of the time, the judgment is not really accurate.
Fortunately, Apple corrected the decision with the release of a Magic keyboard with a number pad in mid-2017. However, you have to pay $ 129 (an additional $ 30) to get one.
The Magic Keyboard doesn't offer as many features as the third-party competition.
Apart from the number pad, the backlit keys are arguably the biggest gap. They have been a standard feature on Apple's laptops for years. Why were you banned from this product? This limits the usability (and aesthetics) of the keyboard. There's also no built-in trackpad; Apple lets you buy one separately.
Fortunately, the backlit buttons and a trackpad are included in the new 2020 Magic Keyboard for iPad, but the design makes it unsuitable for use with a Mac.
As mentioned earlier, when you buy a new Mac, you get a Magic keyboard. However, if you need to buy a replacement, or want to get one for some of your other Apple devices, you'll have to pay $ 100.
It's a ton of money given the lack of compatibility and features. The good news? There are several Magic Keyboard alternatives available.
With a keyboard costing $ 99 and an AppleCare plan costing several hundred dollars (depending on your device), you might expect your Magic keyboard to be covered.
The bad news – it isn't (although there is one caveat).
As per AppleCare Terms and Conditions:
In addition to the Apple-branded product and accessories included in the original packaging, "Covered Equipment" includes, as per your plan for APP for Mac: (a) an Apple-branded mouse, a Magic trackpad, an Apple battery charger, and a Keyboard, if any, included with the Covered Device (or purchased with a Mac mini or Mac Pro), or (b) Apple memory modules (RAM) and an Apple USB SuperDrive, if used with the Covered Device and originally from you at least two Years before the purchase was made purchase of covered equipment.
For laypeople, this means you won't be covered if you didn't have a free Magic Keyboard with your Mac, or bought one at the same time as you bought a Mac mini or Mac Pro. If you bought a keyboard as a standalone product for use with other Apple products, you are not protected by AppleCare.
Is the Magic Keyboard good value for money?
It's hard to feel that Apple's Magic Keyboard could have been so much more. The release doesn't seem enough of an upgrade from the previous wireless version to warrant a $ 30 jump in price.
That said, it works exceptionally well with Macs and other Apple products. And as you'd expect from Apple, it's flawlessly designed.
Is that enough to make you spend at least $ 100 on one? Maybe – it depends on how much you are integrated into the Apple ecosystem.
Use and customize a third-party keyboard on your Mac
You don't have to use Apple's Magic Keyboard! Here's how to set up and customize a third-party keyboard on your Mac.
About the author
(1520 articles published)
Dan joined MakeUseOf in 2014 and has been the partnership director since July 2020. Contact him for information on sponsored content, affiliate agreements, promotions, and other forms of partnership. You can also see him walking around the exhibit space at CES in Las Vegas every year. Say hello when you leave. Prior to his writing career, he was a financial advisor.
By Dan Price
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