|Min OS X: 10.1 Requires: USB Port|
The keyboard is the most important tool in my shed at work and play, and I go through them pretty steadily, so I picked up the RFKey wireless keyboard from Macally with great interest. I am pleased to say it performs like a champ, looks great, and feels like it could take a beating. There are no USB ports on the keyboard, however, which is a slight drawback.
To the TouchThe keys were responsive and comfortable, and with the exception of the non-standard placement of the arrow keys, everything was in its place. Keystrokes resounded enough to hear and it felt more like the snappy Apple keyboards of yesterday. While the physical keyboard was only slightly larger than the Apple Pro, it felt more substantive. With the desk no longer a constraint, the keyboard fits comfortably in your lap.
There were some drivers to install for extended features, including the standard volume, mute and CD eject keys from the Apple Pro Keyboard. After inserting the CD, simple instructions guide you through the process. All of the common buttons from the Apple Pro keyboard we’ve all grown accustomed to — and more — become useable.
Up and RunningThe biggest change from a standard Mac keyboard to the RFKey is the location of the arrow keys. They have been moved to the lower right hand corner of the ergonomically shaped base. Where the arrow keys normally are on a keyboard are, instead, simple web browser controls – refresh, back, forward and home – and a scroll wheel. This did take some getting used to, especially with hot keys at work and gaming at home. This turned out to be my chief complaint with the keyboard, but it was certainly not a deal breaker.
Some of the time I spent with the keyboard was at work, where we run Mac OS 9.2. I ran into a couple of problems. Chiefly, the scroll wheel didn’t work, but it seemed a small point. In OS X however there were no problems with either the wireless reception or customizable buttons.
For casual usage, the array of 15 buttons along the top of the keyboard can nearly free you from your mouse. Seven buttons are set by default to control iTunes — stop, play, fast-forward, rewind, skip back and forward, and record. Six more are undefined and can be used to launch applications or process automated tasks. Also, one button can be mapped to functions both within an application and in the Finder. It’s very simple to automate several common tasks with the push of a button. Two remaining buttons to the right above the number pad are set to launch your email client and default web browser respectively.
Final ThoughtsThe RFKey is a great replacement for the keyboard that has seen better days and the wireless freedom it provides is gratifying. The two AA batteries powering the keyboard exhibited no loss of power after nearly one month of heavy usage. A lack of USB ports makes a hub necessary, but it’s a sacrifice one makes to go wireless. The inclusion of a scroll wheel and many customizable features frees you from your mouse during a good chunk of your computing, but the addition of a rudimentary pointing device would have taken it one step further. Macally’s suggested retail price is $69.
Plenty of customization
Cons:No USB ports
Arrow keys oddly placed