Re: Apple fix it or people will move
Having just had the top cap (e.g. the entire keyboard and battery arrangement) of my MacBook Pro replaced because of this problem I have a few things to say about this issue.
The problem is very real and extremely annoying. A reliably functioning keyboard is of course absolutely essential for getting work done.
For me the problem isn’t - for the most part - how the keyboard works as designed, when new, I personally mostly like it very much. The problem is how the design fails to retain reliability when confronted with common real world usage scenarios.
In fact I love the limited key movement and I think there are very good arguments limited movement with a good mechanical activation action, where the keys can take the weight of a rested finger without activating, but activate consistently when deliberate pressure is applied is best. If all keyboards were this way when we started to learn to type, I think there are very few people who would want to move to a less economical keyboard where more movement is required. In other words, I suspect, what people say they like has a very large component of what they are used to rather than being based on what is actually best.
The problem with the new keyboard is with the phrase “activate consistently.” When the machine is new, the activation is very and - for the limited travel - impressively precise and consistent. The problem is that when debris gets under the keys, the activation stops becoming consistent. It is absolutely essential with a keyboard that when a mechanical key passes the activation point, e.g. clicks down. Even if it is pushed past that point with the slightest of pressure, that the key activates EVERY SINGLE TIME. It is on that point where the new keyboards start to fail within a relatively short period of time (for me it was about 6 months). This problem has been made worse with they new keyboard because, for purely aesthetic reasons, there is an extremely tight tolerance between the plastic key and the surrounding metal laptop case, which means the key “well” becomes a debris trap. Once it has gone in, there is no easy way to get it back out again. This tight tolerance together with the limited travel is a major cause of the problem.
Secondly, though I love the mechanical action of the keys, the design fails in other ways.
1. The keys are too large. This is again, I think, for aesthetic reasons. But actually, contrary to common thinking, overly large keys are a problem. You can’t feel the edge of the keys easily enough, and lose a sense of if your hand is sitting in the right posisition on the keyboard. When keys had a concave surface this wasn’t an issue. Also, I’m typing this on the iPad Pro keyboard. It is much “cheaper” looking than the MacBook Pro keyboard. Yet the typing action is actually superb. I think I miss-key less on this than my MacBook Pro and the reason for this is precisely because the key caps size are smaller. Crucially the distance between the keys remains full size. People often complain about smaller keys, without taking this into account that actually they smaller size means “no looking” touch typing hand position can be more easily determined I can tell you, I can type faster and more consistently on the iPad Pro keyboard than on my new MacBook Pro keyboard even though the mechanical action of the keys on the latter is superior (having said that the non mechanical action of the keys on the rubber iPad keyboard is superb - far better than my brain thinks, based on looks alone, it has a right to be).
2. For aesthetic reasons the arrow keys are make so the left and right are the same size as the up and down key combined. I don’t know a single touch typing user who finds this arrangement easier to “touch type” with than the older arrangement. I find this very annoying and, worse, Apple, I am reminded of my annoyance at the design EVERY SINGLE TIME I MISSKEY.
The customer support at Apple was very good. The keys would only fail to register occasionally, but it would happen enough that it was extremely annoying. They didn’t try testing it and then arguing it wasn’t happening every time as I feared they might. The most common really annoying key combination failing being cmd+x leaving an actual x in my text instead of cutting the selection (so clearly the cmd key was failing to register if not pushed hard enough) would only fail about once a day, but even that is enough to be extremely, *extremely* annoying. They accepted that and replace the whole top case.
But the design problem remains, I have no faith the stuck keys issue will not return in another six months. For sure I will be extremely careful not to use the keyboard in a dirty invironment (for sure eating lunch by the laptop is now a no no). It’s far too much money to have spent on a premium product for it to have a non premium problem in the design like this.
Apple really need to work hard to sort this out. And yes there should be a recall. I don’t accept the design is limiting in a way that these problems can’t be overcome, even with the exact same form factor. Indeed, I think they have made improvements since the first generation version I purchased, so we will see if it lasts better.