©2019 by Drew Murray Books.

Review: Satechi Aluminum USB Keyboard for Apple

I’ll admit, I have a large collection of keyboards already. Some are mechanical monsters of the type keyboard aficionados discuss on Reddit, others are sleek and slim. Some are wired, some are Bluetooth, some light up some don’t. To be successful, a keyboard needs to do three things: look good; feel good; and work well. All of the boards in the collection nailed one or more of these factors.

Satechi makes high quality accessories for Apple products from chargers, to cables and USB hubs, many of which I own. I’ve always been pleased their products, so when I saw that Satechi was launching a new collection of Mac keyboards, I was interested. When I saw the price of $59.99 for a straight up wired model made from aluminum, not the plastic you’d expect at that price-point, I was skeptical.

Being a writer, it’s not surprise that I’m particular when it comes to keyboards. After all, in the course of writing and editing a novel, it’s possible to register over half a million keystrokes! Mechanical keyboards feel incredible with satisfying movement, audible feedback and a solid base. But they’re noisy and expensive. Apple keyboards are sleek objects d’art. But as with all things out of Cupertino there’s a steep Apple tax. Including a $20 premium for Space Grey, a standard keyboard with a number pad and Bluetooth will set you back $150. That’s a lot of cheddar just for the aesthetics of having all-Space Grey on my desk.

Satechi’s Wired Aluminum USB keyboard is the entry level model. It’s wired with a single USB connection. No Bluetooth here, but that suits me fine. I’m using it with a Mac Pro and 28” Dell monitor, no need to be mobile. And this way I don’t have to worry about batteries and charge levels. It’s available in four colours: grey, silver, gold and rose gold. I ordered the grey, and it’s an excellent match for the Apple’s Space Grey Magic Trackpad.

When the keyboard arrived, it was packaged neatly consistent with their other products. Unboxing was quick and my initial impression was that it looked great, but felt less substantial than I expected. It’s made out of aluminum but thinner metal than I expected and the plastic keycaps seemed very light weight. The layout is standard Apple with the Control, Option and Command keys in the proper locations. The keys are slightly concave, and the text is a decal on the surface, which is to be expected at this price. There’s no backlighting, sadly, but the high contrast of white text on black keys is very legible.

Putting it down on my desk, the one problem I have with the keyboard was immediately apparent. When I tried those first few keystrokes, it rattled. It took me a while to figure out that the thin aluminum chassis was bending ever so slightly when typing. It flexed just enough that the centre of the unit would come into contact with my desk, resulting in a vibration. Once I figured that out, it was a simple fix. I took some left over black felt pads, the sort available at any home improvement store for a few cents, and stuck them at the back corners of the keyboard, next to the almost flat rubber pads that came with it. That gave it the fraction of a millimeter of lift needed to prevent touching the desk.

After that, the keyboard has been solid. The keys are light and the chassis is light, but the typing experience is excellent. There’s very little side to side movement, and the depth of travel is a breath of fresh air after using Apple’s latest keyboards.

The Satechi is a simple little keyboard, but it manages to nail all three success factors with it’s no frills approach. It looks terrific, the colours and materials fit in beautifully with Apple products. It feels great with comfortable keycaps and great travel. And it’s worked reliably for months as I’ve put it through writing, editing, and some intense spreadsheet work (love that number pad).

In fact, I can safely say that this keyboard was my best-value tech-buy of 2018. You simply can’t go wrong for the price. Satechi really nailed it with this one. It may not have the bells and whistles of some competitors, but for the price it cannot be beat. I should also note that if you really want it, Satechi does make Bluetooth models with and without the number pad, though there’s still no backlighting.

If you’re looking for a straight forward keyboard to go with a swanky new Mac Mini, or to pair with a MacBook and monitor for a home setup, you can’t go wrong with the Satechi. Find it direct from Satechi’s website, or via Amazon.

Happy typing!