You'll know you're in the presence of a seasoned Mac user when they start speaking of "The Keyboard"--a favorite incarnation of Apple's input device. For many, that revered device was the Apple Extended Keyboard II; a mechanical marvel that, while enormous, was known for its smooth feel.
Although I maintain a preference for the good old IBM Selectric, I've been just fine with Apple's offerings over the years, including the current brushed aluminum, Chiclet-keyed, Bluetooth-enabled Apple Wireless Keyboard. It's sleek, they keys have a nice amount of resistance, and best of all, there's no cord to tether me to my iMac. What this keyboard doesn't have--and what I've come to sorely miss--is a dedicated numeric keypad, which is only offered on Apple's wired keyboard.
Fortunately, the folks at NewerTechnology recently introduced a wireless aluminum keypad, which they cleverly named Wireless Aluminum Keypad. It's a 28-key dedicated numeric keypad with all the buttons I missed, set in an aluminum housing that perfectly--and I mean perfectly--complements Apple's keyboard.
The numbers game
The keypad is powered by two AAA batteries and pairs to your Mac via Bluetooth. A cleverly hidden light under the Equal (=) key lets you know when the keypad is in pairing mode. It also lights briefly when you power it on or off and blinks red to alert you to when the battery needs replacing. (Unlike Apple's own devices, the NewerTech keypad can't report battery strength via the menu bar icon.)
NewerTech did a remarkable job matching the texture, color, and style of Apple's keyboard--there's nothing about it to indicate it's a third-party peripheral. Also included with the keypad is a white plastic bracket that attaches the keypad to the Apple keyboard, which creates a single, multi-purpose unit. If I have one quibble with the product, it's that the bracket could be less visible. (I've taken to using the keypad without the bracket, and am considering taping it to the keyboard from underneath to give them a more seamless look.)
The keypad is recognized as quickly on startup as are my keyboard and Magic Trackpad and in several weeks of testing has never once dropped the connection or given me a wrong or unrecognized keystroke. I absolutely love the implementation of the indicator light--it's clear and bright when needed, but invisible otherwise. The corners of the keys may be ever-so-slightly sharper than on Apple's keyboard, but it's a difference I discovered by sight rather than feel--my fingers never suspected a thing. The font used on the key caps is an exact match for the one imprinted on Apple's keyboard, as is its angle, height, and depth. In short, it appears to be an Apple product, through and through.
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