Apple Magic Keyboard: Adding a number-crunching device
Back in September at the IFA exhibition in Berlin my attention was caught by a number keypad designed to complement Apple’s Magic Keyboard. Since I moved over to the rechargeable, Bluetooth keyboard I have missed the number pad which is an integral part of the Apple wired keyboard. But I just love the three Magic devices, keyboard, trackpad and mouse, and couldn’t envisage going back to the wired keyboard just for the sake of the numbers.
It was a pity because I do a lot of number crunching and it is so much easier to use a dedicated keypad rather than the un-intuitive top row of the QWERTY keyboard.
Since IFA I have been checking frequently to see when the Satechi rechargeable keypad would make its appearance in the UK. In the end I ordered direct from Satechi in the USA and the device arrived a week ago, just about the time when it finally appeared on Amazon UK (see link below).
The little keypad perfectly complements the Magic Keyboard and sits comfortably on the right-hand side. It’s a standard layout with 0-9, mathematical symbols (/, *, + and -), backspace, clear and decimal point. As with all usable keypads, the numbers are arranged from top to bottom 789, 456, 123 which come intuitively to anyone who has used keypads or old-fashioned adding machines before. Telephones, for some reason, invert the numbers as 123, 456, 789, which continues to catch me out.
While this is a Bluetooth device it doesn’t have the instant pairing enjoyed by the Apple Magic devices. However, it is quite straightforward to set up as an ordinary Bluetooth connection.
The Satechi keypad differs from the Apple Magic devices in one important way. Instead of being charged by Lightning cable, which is extremely convenient (especially when travelling) it uses a supplied standard micro USB connector. This means another cable to carry or forget; but it is a minor quibble. I suspect the licence fee to Apple would have inflated the cost of the device and Satechi’s decision seems to me to be a fair tradeoff.
The keypad sits firmly on the desk surface thanks to its silicon feet and is every bit as stable as the Apple keyboard. While it doesn’t connect in any way, it manages to stay put. If I wanted to ensure it is always perfectly in line I would probably add a strip of black sticky tape to the underside, tethering it to the Magic Keyboard.
It has slightly longer key travel than the Magic Keyboard, probably using old-technology. As such, there is a subtle discernible difference when moving between the two input devices. The key sound is louder and slightly dead in comparison with the beautifully balanced action of the Apple board.
At £39.99 (UK price) I would strongly recommend this addition to your desktop arsenal if you share my need for a rapid number-entry system.
The Satechi Slim Rechargeable Aluminium Bluetooth Wireless Keypad is now available from Amazon UK.
An alternative, which I haven’t seen or tried, is the Matias Bluetooth Aluminium Keyboard which has a similar style to the Apple keyboard but features an integral number keypad.