How the Magic Keyboard won my heart - and my wallet

I was ready to return the new Apple Magic Keyboard after using it for a week. To make sure, I switched back to the Smart Folio Keyboard I'd happily used for over a year. Big mistake! Here's what I found.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor


I'm a fan of the iPad: the curated App Store; the focus of limited multi-tasking; the management-free experience. Combine that with the power and flexibility of iPad Pro hardware: what can't it do?

But I'm not a fan of spending $350 for a keyboard. Which is why I expected to send my Magic Keyboard back to Apple after taking it for a spin.

Now I'm out $350 - almost $400 with tax - and I have to admit I was wrong about the Magic Keyboard. Wallet and ego: 2x burn.

Why going back to the Smart Folio didn't work

I felt relieved when I slipped my 12.9 inch iPad Pro back into the Folio. So much lighter! Thinner! Simpler!

But the joy didn't last once I sat down to work. The two positions the Folio offers, that I'd been OK with, suddenly weren't right.

The keys, which I'd liked for over a year, suffered by comparison with the Magic Keyboard. More importantly, I found I was making more errors than I did on the Magic Keyboard. My fine motor skills are terrible, so I need all the help I can get - help the Magic Keyboard provided.

And much to my surprise, the added inch in screen height actually made a difference: I could spend more time working with less back and neck strain. 

But it was the trackpad that sealed the deal. I love trackpads, and while I don't use half the gestures available, the ones I do use help keep my hands on the keys and my focus on the screen.

The Take

Apple marketing has grappled unsuccessfully for the last decade with how to communicate the difference between iPads and PCs. For me it's simple: the iPad Pro is a motorcycle for the mind. PCs, including Macs, are trucks.

As a dedicated ebike rider - who also owns a car - that metaphor resonates for me. The iPad complements my Retina iMac, and won't replace it until I no longer have a desk.
See alsoApple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro review: More productivity, but at a price | If your Magic Keyboard's battery is draining fast, try this | What people get wrong about the Magic Keyboard

The motorcycle is nimble and quick, but won't haul your furniture. The truck will, with a lot more fiddling, and, including fuel and maintenance, at much higher cost.

Living in rural America, I know many people who use computers and have no idea how they work. Their PCs are a continuing source of anger, frustration, and mystification.

For them the iPad OS ecosystem is a godsend. Put them on automatic update, add a keyboard, restart every couple of months, and they're happy.

Those people don't need an iPad Pro, or a Magic Keyboard. But the total package makes my life easier and more productive. In the year of the virus, I want that more than ever.

But it can be improved by increasing the vertical lift of the iPad to further reduce neck strain. Oh, and reduce the price!

Bottom line: the Magic Keyboard is the heroin of iPad keyboards: it's so good you don't even want to try it once.

But I'm glad I did.

Comments welcome. Anyone want to buy a used Smart Folio keyboard case?

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