iMac keyboard morphs into MacBook keyboard

By now you've seen the leaked photos of the purported new iMac keyboard. The new keyboard design is pretty significant because it represents a shift to a new low-profile design that began with the MacBook.

Mac keyboards compared

By now you've seen the leaked photos of the purported new iMac keyboard. The new keyboard design is pretty significant because it represents a shift to a new low-profile design that began with the MacBook. The new keyboard is rumored to arrive as soon as 7 August 2007 with a new iMac revision featuring a super-thin, low-profile aluminum design.

When depressed the new keys are flush with the casing beneath them. The keys are more square (rather than the traditional trapezoidal shape) which means that they're the same width at the top as they are at the bottom. The square shape provides more contact area at the top of the key because it doesn't slope out lower down the key. The new keys tops are completely flat as opposed to the old keytops which are slightly concave.

Gizmodo has posted side-by-side pictures (small version above) of the alleged keyboard with the current 109-key Apple keyboard. Some of the differences between the two:

  • Volume controls were moved from above the numeric keypad to the F10, F11 and F12 keys
  • The Eject key is now directly above the delete key (like it is on the MacBook)
  • The Help key has been replaced by a Function ("fn") key
  • The Apple logo has been replaced by the word "Command" – a boon for support techs everywhere
  • New playback keys (back, play/pause, forward) have been added to F7, F8 and F9
  • Bright and Dim keys have been added to F1 and F2 (like the MacBook)
  • Expose (F3) and Dashboard (F4) keys have been added

While I was sure that I wouldn't like the low-throw (often called "stroke" or "travel"), chiclet-style keys of the MacBook, my recent switch from a MacBook Pro to a MacBook wasn't as bad as I expected. I find the keyboard easy to type on and most importantly, it's quiet. The main thing that I miss from my MBP is the keyboard backlighting which is only found in the Pro notebook. The black MacBook's keyboard is incredibly dark and will be difficult for non touch-typists to use in low-light.

The questions that beg to be asked:

  • Why Apple didn't add the power button back to the new USB desktop keyboard? If they're truly moving toward the MacBook design, shouldn't they have included the power button?
  • Will future MacBooks (and MBPs) move to the new keyboard design with the permanent Dashboard and Expose keys?
  • Will a Bluetooth version follow?
  • Can we expect a revision to the mouse as well?

What do you think about the new keyboard design and layout?

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