MacBook Air Diary-Day 23: Lovin' the F8 key

Apple's new, low-throw, "chiclet" style keyboard arrived to great controversy. First in the MacBook, then again when it was adopted as the defacto standard USB keyboard for all Macs, replacing the clear lucite and white 109-key keyboard.

One little key: F8
Apple's new, low-throw, "chiclet" style keyboard arrived to great controversy. First in the MacBook, then again when it was adopted as the defacto standard USB keyboard for all Macs, replacing the clear lucite and white 109-key keyboard.

People derided the new keyboard design because of its flat and wide keytops, cramped feel, lower key travel and even because of the changes to the layout, specifically the function keys. There were even comparisons to the chiclet keyboard from the IBM PC jr.

IBM PC jr. chiclet keyboard like the Apple keyboard?

I blogged about the differences between the new slim-line USB keyboard and the discontinued 109-key Apple keyboard back in July 2007, when the new "iMac keyboard" was first leaked:

  • 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  • The Help key has been replaced by a Function (”fn”) key
  • The Apple logo has been replaced by the word “Command”
  • 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

I have to admit to being critical of the new Apple keyboard when it came out, but after a little getting used to it's not bad. In fact, I've actually become quite attached to it since they added backlighting to the MacBook Air keyboard. (Can anyone explain to my why they chose black for the MBA keyboard? Over, say, I don't know, silver!? The black keyboards sticks out like a sore thumb.)

In fact, it's almost weird to go back to the older 109-key lucite and white keyboard after using the MBA's so much (I sometimes use the Bluetooth version in my office). I wish that Apple would release a Bluetooth keyboard with a numeric keypad again. I thought that wireless was the future, Apple!

One thing that I'm absolutely hooked on is the Play/Pause feature that appears on the F8 key. It's perfect if you like to listen to podcasts or audio books but are frequently interrupted or need to make calls. When listening to music, the standard old mute key (above the "/" on the old keyboard) works just fine. It's bad however for spoken word because when muted you end up missing things and eventually lose your spot.

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