Matias Mac keyboard sheds light in the darkness

If you need a backlit, Mac-compatible keyboard that looks as good as Apple's Magic Keyboard, look no further than the wireless aluminum alternative from Matias.

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Apple's Magic Keyboard, including the $149 Space Gray model with the integrated numeric keypad, is a sleek, reliable, and responsive keyboard featuring Mac-specific keys that complements a Mac's design well. But Apple's keyboard doesn't include a backlight, which is a problem for many users working in low-light conditions. Matias, thankfully, offers a compelling backlit alternative (Figure A).

Figure A

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Image: Matias

The Matias wireless aluminum keyboard with backlight is actually $10 less than Apple's keyboard. In addition to full-size and numerous Mac-specific keys and models in silver and space gray, as well as wireless functionality featuring Bluetooth connectivity requiring no dongle, Matias' $139 version also offers an adjustable backlight (Figure B). The Matias keyboard can be paired with up to four devices. Switching between computers is easy using four additional function keys built into the keyboard above the numeric keypad.

Figure B

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Image: Matias

Users concerned about killing the keyboard's battery or shortening time between charges due to the energy demands of the backlight need not worry. The Matias keyboard uses two internal batteries, one of which is dedicated to the backlight function; so even if the backlight kills its battery, the primary cell connecting the keyboard to the computer lives on.

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Backlight intensity is adjustable. The backlight doesn't illuminate by default, which helps extend battery life when the backlight isn't needed. Simply pressing the Backlight button (positioned as an additional function key) and the + key enables the backlight and adjusts the brightness each time the + or - keys are pressed in conjunction with the Backlight key. To further extend battery life, the keyboard's backlight turns off after 30 seconds, but it returns whenever another key is pressed.

Using the keyboard, a few shortcut key combinations are immediately helpful:

  • Pressing the Backlight and 0 keys turns the backlight up to its brightest level
  • Pressing the Backlight and 5 keys turns the backlight to half brightness
  • Pressing the Backlight and ESC keys disables the backlight

How to pair the Matias keyboard with a Mac

Pairing the Matias keyboard with a Mac is straightforward. From your Mac, click the Apple icon, click System Preferences and choose Keyboard, then select Setup Bluetooth Keyboard. Next, on the Matias keyboard, press and hold one of the keyboard's four numbered Bluetooth keys. The Mac will locate the keyboard; click Continue and follow the onscreen menu to complete the connection.

The keyboard can also be paired to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, as well as a Windows or Android device. Charge the keyboard using the included USB cable. A full charge, when the keyboard's completely drained, takes about nine hours. I found the keyboard's backlight battery ran for about 10 days under daily use.

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