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Manufacturer: MacAlly
Min OS X: Any Version    Requires: USB Port


MacAlly iceKey
March 20, 2003 | Lucian Fong


Click to enlarge
MacAlly has been making Macintosh peripherals for many years and lately, they have been following the industrial design trends that Apple has set. Their most recent line of peripherals shares a milky white color scheme that is clean and elegant, much like the LCD iMac. Oddly enough, the product that drew my attention was the MacAlly iceKey. "Bah! Another keyboard?!" you say, but this isn't just "another keyboard."

Brrr! It's Cold in Here!
Instead of using conventional keys, the iceKey features scissor keys, the same keys found in iBooks and PowerBooks. Any Apple laptop user will tell you that their keyboard is superior in every way to normal desktop keyboards. After spending some time with a friend's Titanium PowerBook a few years ago, I would have to agree. The thought of using scissor keys in a desktop keyboard never crossed my mind, as if there was some unspoken law that forbade them from being used in regular keyboards. When I discovered the iceKey, I knew I had to have it.

The iceKey is a full size keyboard, which automatically addresses my complaints about cramped laptop keyboards. It has similar dimensions to the Apple Pro Keyboard, but is noticeably slimmer and more ergonomic. Like the Pro Keyboard, it has one USB port on each side and sports volume controls and a CD eject key (drivers must be installed to enable them). There are three green LEDs in the upper right corner to denote power, caps lock, and number lock.

My only complaint about the physical layout is the small-ish space and modifier keys. Extending the bottom row of keys by 1/8" or so would give them a better feel. I would have also liked the ability to customize the function keys through a preference pane (like Microsoft's IntelliType software), since I normally don't use them. Finally, the attached USB cable is five feet long, which should be long enough for most users.

iLike
Initially, the keys felt stiff, requiring me to use more force than I thought necessary to depress them. I adjusted to them after a few minutes of typing, but I wouldn't mind if MacAlly made the keys slightly softer. Otherwise, the iceKey is just like an iBook or PowerBook keyboard. The keys are quiet, have a short travel and feel very responsive. After using an iceKey for several days, a conventional keyboard feels extremely clumsy and "big". Comparing the Pro Keyboard and the iceKey side by side gives the impression that the Pro Keyboard is a bustling metropolis of keys, while the iceKey is a serene and peaceful plain. Have I gone overboard with my analogies? Why, yes.

Obviously, the iceKey doesn't exhibit the flexing problems that iBook and PowerBook keyboards have. It's a solid and sturdy keyboard that should last you a while, barring any coffee or marmalade accidents.

Final Thoughts
It's pretty obvious that I like the MacAlly iceKey. A lot. Laptop owners who like to dock their computers to external devices when they are at their home or office will appreciate it as well. If you're a keyboard connoisseur like me, it's your duty to take the iceKey for a test drive. In my opinion, $60 is a small price to pay for comfort, especially when people are paying several hundred dollars for chairs that improve posture and increase airflow to the gluteus maximus. The only other thing I would like to see MacAlly do with the iceKey, is to sell black and titanium gray variations. But then it wouldn't be called the "iceKey," would it?

Pros:
Scissor keys are extremely responsive
Two USB ports

Cons:
Gets dirty easily
No customization options



MacAlly iceKey
Manufacturer: MacAlly




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