Kensington’s new keyboard for Mac

I am mostly writing this to test out my new Kensington StudioBoard Mechanical Keyboard. These things just hit the market like today and I must say it was definitely created first and foremost for Mac users, especially those that had gotten used to the old mechanical clickety-clack style mechanical action, which is this model’s main feature.

First of all, the obvious. The keyboard itself is in the typical Mac style of translucent exterior plastic with a white layer underneath. The keys are white, and the keyboard layout is identical to the Apple keyboards that ship today, including the Mac OS X media keys for volume control and CD eject that are above the numeric keypad. The caps lock and num lock keys have LED lights right on the keys themselves. There are also the two USB ports on either side, similar to the Apple line.

Underneath the keyboard there are two riser stands to raise the angle of the keyboard. I’m not measuring this directly, but it seems quite a bit steeper of an angle and somewhat more sturdy than the current Apple keyboard, which is a good ergonomic decision.

The mechanical keyboard action feels excellent to type with. I personally have been using the softer-touch membrane-style keyboards for quite a long time, so I’m quite used to their feel. But this keyboard definitely has a nice touch response.

The one key that this keyboard has that the Apple keyboards lack is a power button at the top – a feature Apple removed in their latest revision of their keyboard. The button is handy, but it seems like it sinks a bit deep in to it’s setting. But damn, what a minor nit to pick about.

Since we’re on nits – the CD eject key does not eject disks mounted from my external SmartDisk FireWire CD-R/W drive, but I think this is due to the Mac OS itself. Also, this keyboard’s clickety-clack sound is quite a bit louder than a membrane-based keyboard. It seems loud even for a mechanical keyboard. Lastly, the surface area of the Return key is a bit farther to the right than I am used to, so I often hit the backslash ( ) key by mistake, but I’ve already learned to adjust for that. Every keyboard is slightly different. (Except for the Microsoft ergonomic keyboards with the bizarre arrow keys – those are completely whacked.)

But those are minor issues. Overall, this keyboard is an excellent keyboard to replace an old one that has been destroyed (like mine which fell victim to Max when he poured apple juice all over it), for PowerBook users that seek an Apple-compatible external keyboard, and most of all for those who want that old-style mechanical feel and response. This is the first 3rd-party keyboard that I have seen that was clearly designed specifically for the Mac OS X market, and it is working great.