geekhack Community => Reviews => Topic started by: jacobolus on Sun, 13 December 2020, 01:08:57

Title: Macbook scissor-membrane keyboards 2020
Post by: jacobolus on Sun, 13 December 2020, 01:08:57
I just got a new 13" Macbook (the Intel kind still, because I have some old software I don’t trust on the newest OS/CPU arch yet), and in my opinion the new (as of late 2019 and beyond) Apple keyboards are much better than the 2015–2019 era “butterfly” keyboards, mainly because these aren’t (fingers crossed) going to keep breaking all the time.

The feel is back to something pretty comparable to the Apple keyboards from >5 years ago. Key feel is not as sharp as the butterfly keyboard, and force to actuate seems about the same, but travel distance feels like approximately double (subjective impression; haven’t measured it), and comparable to the pre-2015 keyboards. Longer travel is a big improvement in my opinion, though I did think the previous keyboard had impressively adequate key feel considering the extreme height constraint. Sound on the new keyboard is quieter and much more consistent than the butterfly board but not entirely silent.

Finally, the return of a physical escape key and an inverted-T arrow arrangement is a welcome fix to the two big missteps of the butterfly keyboards’ layout.

I personally had endless problems with the butterfly Macbook keyboard: missed strokes, doubled strokes, stuck keys, inconsistent click, missing click, keycaps falling off (my 1-year-old kept stealing my unattached command-key keycap and hiding it around the house), ... Overall made the laptop experience much worse than it should have been.

The new replacement keyboard is by all reports dramatically more reliable. I would recommend anyone with an Apple laptop (either a butterfly board or an older laptop who was waiting out the butterfly keyboard era) should feel comfortable upgrading, as far as the keyboard is concerned.

Not as nice as typing on a longer-travel external keyboard, but back to being among the best keyboards built in to a laptop in the past 25 years (I went to a “Microsoft Store” a few years ago and wow are there a lot of horrendously cheap and bad PC laptop keyboards out there...).

Edit: I tracked down my 8-year-old Apple laptop to compare against. That keyboard still has slightly more key travel than the newest variant. I think I narrowly prefer the older one from a pure typing perspective, but they are pretty similar, and having the whole laptop be thinner and lighter is also nice.
Title: Re: Macbook scissor-membrane keyboards 2020
Post by: jacobolus on Sun, 13 December 2020, 01:29:59
In honor of this new (hopefully permanently) not sucky keyboard, here’s a version in keyboard-layout-editor, in case anyone wants to play with making alternate layouts for it:

(I got the JIS version because I love the 3.5u spacebar and extra thumb keys, but most people probably have ANSI or ISO)
Title: Re: Macbook scissor-membrane keyboards 2020
Post by: fantasyrunner on Wed, 16 December 2020, 19:48:47
Great review, as someone who has never really hated the "old" new touchbar macbook pro typing feel and sound, I'm very excited to try these out.