Friday, January 12, 2018

Matias RGB Backlit Wired Aluminum Keyboard


With a generous 2mm of key travel, typing feels as tactile and responsive as any of the best laptop keyboards.

Via Jeff Benjamin:

To adjust the color of the RGB Backlit keyboard, Matias has included a handy spectrum color dial for quickly adjusting hues. Turning the dial all the way to the left or right turns the backlight white, while moving in between cycles through the full RGB color spectrum.

Matias has also wisely designed the keyboard to reduce blue hues as you move away from 100% white. As you dial the keyboard back from hard left or hard right, the keyboard’s RGB system will preferentially reduce the blue component first, resulting in softer whites that research has suggested may be more conducive to sleep.

I don’t personally care for keyboard backlighting, but I have renewed interest in wired keyboards since macOS 10.13 continues to have Bluetooth disconnection problems and does not always recognize wireless keyboards at boot. Apple no longer makes a wired keyboard. Its wireless one is $129 and bendy.

Matias confirmed to me that its $99 keyboard does not require any third-party software to toggle whether fn is necessary to use the media/function keys. However, unlike with Apple’s keyboards, the fn key cannot be used by itself (e.g. for activating Diction or LaunchBar).

How does it feel? I have no idea. I liked Matias’s previous (widely praised) Tactile Pro, though I found the keys a bit stiff and was bothered by their high-pitched ringing sound. Matias already sells a wired aluminum keyboard for $59. The lone Amazon review for it isn’t favorable, though Jeff Benjamin likes his wireless one (which has lots of Amazon reviews).

On the subject of keyboards, I also found this article by Jacob Kastrenakes interesting (via Wojtek Pietrusiewicz):

Dell is introducing a 15-inch version of its XPS 2-in-1, after debuting a 13-inch model last year, but this isn’t just a scaled-up version of the original; it’s a much more powerful computer with some unique tweaks.

Among the most interesting quirks is the laptop’s keyboard: though it looks and feels just like typical Dell keyboard, it’s built using a brand-new mechanism that relies on magnets. The keys are still physically held in place at their corners, but there are now magnets beneath them to provide feedback. By controlling the strength of their repulsion, Dell can create a deeper, clickier feeling for the keys than their 0.7mm travel would normally allow.

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Doesn't the Magic Keyboard work as a wired keyboard when the lightning cable is connected? At least my Magic Trackpad 2 works much better when the cable is connected.

@Johan I found that the Magic Keyboard only works as wired when I completely turn off Bluetooth (which breaks all sorts of things). With Bluetooth on, the keyboard inevitably switches itself to connecting via Bluetooth and is then subject to the Bluetooth disconnection problems (even though it remains physically connected).

I need to try this magnetic Dell keyboard in person. I am genuinely interested in how it feels to type on.

So far as wired keyboards go, I'm still very happy with my Das Keyboard Model S for Mac.

That's very weird — I've not noticed that my Magic Keyboard *ever* switches to Bluetooth while it's wired, and I plug it in several times a week as my Bluetooth connection is a bit flaky when my keyboard is on my lap.

While plugged in via USB, if I look in Bluetooth Explorer it doesn't appear and it doesn't show a RSSI if I hold down Option while pulling down the Bluetooth menu.

I wonder if your Magic Keyboard or its Lightning port may be defective or a different model/version from the one I have? Do you see the keyboard connecting/disconnecting in the Bluetooth Explorer Event Log other than when you physically plug it in/unplug it? I get a pretty clear "Nicholas’s Magic Keyboard disconnected" when I plug the keyboard in via USB.

@Nicholas As soon as I plug in the Magic Keyboard, I get a notification saying that the keyboard is wirelessly connected. This happens even if I had previously unpaired it. It does not show an RSSI, but the Bluetooth pane of System Preferences shows it as connected. I’m not sure what’s going on with Bluetooth Explorer, but it doesn’t seem to log anything for any of my Bluetooth devices.

Yeah, that's definitely how it's supposed to work — plugging in Apple's recent wireless devices (keyboards, mice/trackpads, Pencil, AirPods) should cause it to pair "out of band", but as far as I know that shouldn't cause the keyboard to send keystrokes over Bluetooth if it's got a wired connection. The upshot is, you shouldn't notice any flakiness if it's wired.

Make sure you're using a new enough version of Bluetooth Explorer — I've been using 5.0.0; you may need to download something newer from as they tend to be pretty fragile with changes in OS versions. Here's a specific example of a test I just did:

1. Start with the keyboard unplugged.
2. Show the Bluetooth Status window (top item in the Devices menu). You should see the keyboard there.
3. Plug the keyboard in. The row in the Bluetooth Status window should become grayed out indicating it has disconnected. You should be able to type reliably.
4. Unplug the keyboard. You should see the keyboard connected bezel appear, and the corresponding row in the Bluetooth Status window should be populated again.

If anything else happens, you may have a hardware issue.

5.0 (for Xcode 8) was the newest version I could find. The keyboard does gray out when I plug it in, and this matches what I see with the Connected/Disconnected bezels. The issue I was having was that after a while the keyboard would reconnect via Bluetooth, while still plugged in. This happens with two different keyboards on macOS 10.12.x. I haven’t used it connected very long with 10.13 since I noticed that the disconnections still happened.

I've not left it connected more than a couple hours at a time; 'a while' may be longer than that? Might be worth a shot on 10.13 to try plugging it in again... overall I have found it a bit more reliable than 10.12.

A bit longer. As I recall, it would re-pair and (later) spontaneously disconnect about twice per work day. I should try it again with 10.13, but I’m not terrible motivated now that I’m used to an extended keyboard again.

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