Typing On The New MacBook, The Joy Of Butterfly

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I can’t feel a thing. Well, actually I feel a small click. Yes. It’s a click where there should be movement. And I’m not talking about the trackpad? Yet, so similar are these new input and control gadgets on Apple’s new MacBook. Comparatively, there is much more movement of the keys and the trackpad of my MacBook Air (MBA). And, btw, I’ve always hated chicklet keyboards. And so, Apple came up with a software solution to enhance the typing environment–just for me.

Get this.

You can, in preferences, actually turn on a clicking sound for the trackpad. Ain’t that a hoot! Of course, I don’t know if that’s cool or stupid. But I don’t really care. The software click of the trackpad corresponds perfectly to the precise click of the keyboard and its oh-so limited butterfly key travel. In fact, I’d say this new keyboard is actually louder than the old keyboard. And so, I’m thinking about the keys of the Apple USB keyboard connected to my Mac Pro 5,1. Those keys move more than the ones on my MBA. And as stated: I’m not a fan of chicklets. Yet, in my pseudo review of this MacBook, something isn’t right… when I’m not typing on it.

Here’s the confiscation run-down.

I’m not sure my wife’s 100% behind me taking her MacBook. On the other hand, I can’t stand seeing the thing just lie around. She bought this 2nd gen MacBook in the late summer of 2016 but never really used it. Why she bought it in the first place is another story. In short, it had something to do with her job and BYOD (bring your own device). It turns out that her iPad was more than enough to be her daily driver–even at work. After about six or eight months lugging both the MacBook and the iPad to work she started leaving the MacBook home. That’s when I started fiddling with it in the name of empirical study. I was curious about the device since its debut. It turns out that the performance of the M3 processor is every bit as good as the performance of the i7 processor of my 2015 MBA. Let me tell you, dear worst-reader, that was the first sign that my MBA’s days were numbered.

The complaints.

The Interwebnet is full of MacBook keyboard sucks complainers. Reviewers and users alike all have something negative to say about this new design. Complaints usually start with the price, then comes the keyboard and it all seems to culminate with the single USB-C port. To me, considering Apple’s product trajectory, which is obviously iOS centric, this MacBook only makes sense. I for one am not ready to go iOS–but I see the inevitability of the future. Trust me, I tried i0S. I had a iPad 4 for about a year. And I honestly tried to supplant my 2013 13″ MacBook Pro with it. I did not succeed. I dumped the iPad 4 for an Apple refurbished MacBook Air. (By-the-buy, that’s the only way I buy Apple hardware now.) Apple’s pro machines are too high-priced and also a bit of tech overkill for my needs. And so, my best guess is the only reason Apple still has the Air model is so they can offer it to guys like me in the $999 bracket–or even cheaper refurbished. Anywho. The new-fangled MacBook starts at three hundred bucks more than an Air–and for the life of me I don’t really know why. Despite the new design features, it feels as though you are paying way more for way less by going with the new device. A hefty hunk of change indeed.

And now for some worst-writer honesty.

If I were at an Apple Store right now I wouldn’t even look at a MacBook. That pink colour is just too f’n scary. I would go straight to the Pro line. I’m not sure how long it would take, but after a few milliseconds of witnessing the price of “pro” models, I’d be out of the store and once again walking home where I would try and catch a great deal buying from Apple’s refurbish program. There is no doubt that Apple Macs are waaaaaaay over priced. Yet, I’m stuck in the eco-system. I’m only glad that I have a choice other than full retail consumption of this krapp.  That said, here I am–by means of marital confiscation–absolutely loving the new design, including the keyboard, the single port and f’n everything else. Is it faster than my three year old Air (with i7 cpu): no. Is the screen better: yes. Is the build better: yes. Is the keyboard better: it’s definitely not worse than any chicklet keyboard. Which brings me to…

The only thing I ever learned in #americant public school was the ability to all finger type.

I probably haven’t typed anything on a mechanical typewriter in about two years. I think I might have used my Hermes Baby last year when I needed to address some envelopes. That’s right, dear worst-reader. I addressed snail mail envelopes using a typewriter instead of printing from a laser printer. The reason for that, other than romance and nostalgia mixed with bit of boredom, is not worth addressing here. What’s important is that I don’t miss typing on typewriters. It was/is time to give them up–and not because I too am becoming outdated. I have long since embraced the glorified-typewriters aka computers of today for all my writing. In fact, I was thinking about buying one of them glass cabinets and putting it in a room and filling it with Hermes, Olivetti, Olympia, Princess and Groma Kolibri–all of which are retired in a few boxes in my basement.

glass cabinet for typwriter collection

Oh yeah. The MacBook keyboard.

For the life of me I can’t understand why people complain about this keyboard. Considering that I’ve always found chicklet keyboards a bad idear, this so-called butterfly keyboard made me curious from the get-go. I can see why finger-picking typists would have a hard time with it. The keys have very little travel and even less tactile feel. For finger-pickers it must be like tapping on a glass plate–or worse: typing on an iPad (aghast). When I focus with all nine fingers*, when I soften my strokes, when I get going, I love this keyboard. The butterfly mechanism alleviates having to find the sweet spot of, say, chicklet keys–which is often the biggest problem I’ve had when using my ring finger and little finger on those keyboards. No matter what part of the key you touch on the new MacBook keyboard, it activates. It also makes it easier to find/reach shift-keys and all the other non letter keys with ring and little fingers.

Worst-Writer conclusion: the only other laptop keyboard that has ever been worth a hoot is that of the older Thinkpads. But from what I understand Lenovo, since taking over from IBM, has resorted to chicklet keys, too. As far as I can tell, getting rid of the chicklet keyboard was one of the best things Apple could do. With that in mind, you finger typists should finally learn to type.

Rant on.

-T

*Nine fingers because I use only my right thumb when typing.

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