Hardware

4 alternative keyboards for Mac users offer compelling options

Some Mac users will spend hundreds of hours per year using their keyboards, so why not choose one that offers the most useful features? Here are four options other than Apple's default keyboards.

Computer keyboards are potentially the single most underappreciated technology component. Many Mac users spend hundreds of hours or more a year using their keyboard.

SEE: Ebook—Boost your Mac productivity with these 10 techniques (TechRepublic)

While Apple's default keyboards provide above-average performance, multiple alternative compelling options are available. Whether you're working with a laptop on a desk or leveraging a desktop model, these Mac-specific keyboards all deserve a look.

Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad

Apple's new silver-and-white (the keys possess dark gray lettering) Bluetooth Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad ($129) adds a full-size numeric keypad to its popular Magic Keyboard. Each key boasts a scissor mechanism for optimized key travel, a low profile, and increased stability, all of which makes a difference when typing rapidly within documents and forms, entering figures within spreadsheets and financial applications, and during general typing. A built-in battery powers the keyboard for a month or more, and a Lightning to USB cable for recharging the battery is included.

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Image: Apple Inc.

Interestingly, Matias makes a backlit model, the Wireless Aluminum Keyboard with Backlight, in silver or space gray that resembles Apple's version in many ways. Matias' version costs $139.

SEE: Free: Mighty Mac App Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)

Das Keyboard Model S Professional for Mac

Das Keyboard's predominantly black (the keys possess laser-etched white lettering) Model S Professional for Mac ($133) keyboard provides an enhanced tactile feel for each keystroke due to the use of Cherry MX blue mechanical gold-plated key switches. The Model S, like Apple's Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad, also possesses an integrated numeric keypad, as well as a pair of built-in USB ports, a 6.6-foot long USB cable, and special Mac-specific Option and Command keys.

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Image: Das Keyboard

Matias Tactile Pro

Matias' white-key, dark-lettered Tactile Pro ($150) wired keyboard includes a full-sized integrated numeric keypad, Alps mechanical switch keys, and Mac-friendly function keys. All of the keys are laser-etched, which prevents fading from use. Three USB ports are included within the keyboard, which further simplifies connecting and charging common devices, such as smartphones. The Tactile Pro closely resembles one of Apple's early keyboards, which remains forever popular with many of the Apple faithful.

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Image: Matias

SEE: IT hardware procurement policy (Tech Pro Research)

Logitech Solar Keyboard K750

The gray and white Logitech Solar Keyboard K750 ($59) looks similar to the Apple and Matias aluminum models, but adds solar power to the mix. In addition to Mac-specific keys, including for the Option and Command keys, the Logitech version includes a numeric keypad. I'm not sure how important the keyboard's solar recharging capability proves, as many people (including me) use rechargeable batteries, but the thought of not having to manage an extra set and recharge depleted batteries is a welcome one. At just $59, the Logitech is the least expensive alternative keyboard listed here, by far.

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Image: Logitech

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About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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