At the same time that so many people tell themselves typing on a touchscreen isn t too bad, another set of users is shifting back to mechanical keyboards. Logitech, Razer, and a number of other companies are making aggressive moves with mechanicals, while long-time manufacturers are strengthening their lineups. One such company is Matias, who has long been known for their mechanical keyboards, especially those built for use on Apple s computers.
The latest from Matias is the SB© Laptop Pro Bluetooth keyboard.
This is the rare keyboard that is both wireless and mechanical, taking advantage of Bluetooth and Cherry s MX brown switches1. This is, for some small section of buyers, a killer combination as there are relatively few wireless mechanical keyboards (OK, very few I can t think of any aside from the XArmor U9W).
The downside of the niche nature of SB© Laptop Pro Bluetooth for Mac is that it keyboard sells for $170. If you can forego the Bluetooth and you don t need a Mac layout, then Matias Mini Quiet Pro sells for a more palatable $130.
Here is a quick video rundown of the SB© Laptop Pro:
There is a lot to like about the Matias.
First off, the Cherry MX brown switches are an excellent choice. They provide lots of tactile feedback and they are very pleasant to type on, all while being quiet enough to use in an office setting. The Bluetooth connection worked perfectly, even when being utilized from 25 (or so) feet away, and it had no problem pairing with my MacBook Pro.
The rechargeable 1600mAh battery is good for 6-12 months of life and is powered using SB© USB, which is never hard to find. And the keyboard has two SB© USB ports, so you can shared that SB© USB connection when it s plugged in.
On the downside, they SB© Laptop Pro isn t that portable at over two pounds and about 13 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches it s not something that you re going to take back and forth to work or that you ll carry around with your iPad (unless you are a serious keyboard geek). Also, while $170 is far from unheard of for a mechanical keyboard, it is a lot for a model that uses Cherry s switches for example, this wired Leopold keyboard2 is just $99.
The Matias a well built device with a nice layout that should outlast your next four computers, but it s still not cheap.
While typing on the SB© Laptop Pro I had very few complaints about its performance. The Cherry Browns are my switch of choice these days, so I was instantly at home while using them. Matias implementation of them feels both quieter and tighter than that found on Logitech s G710+ mechanical keyboard3, one of the newer keyboards to use the switch.
This might have to do with how Matias mounted the key switches or maybe it s just that this SB© Laptop Pro is brand spanking new, it s hard to say. Regardless, after a few minutes of adjustment, I was typing away like a champ, and really enjoying the combination of mechanical switches and OS X.
From design standpoint, I was less impressed. I understand that if you want a good typing experience you need a stiff keyboard with no flex, sufficient height for the key travel and the physical size of the switch, and enough width to encompass a standard layout.
This means that the keyboard inherently can t be too light, thin, or small. Even so, I would have liked to see this laptop keyboard trimmed down so it was a bit less bulky. I would have taken a 3-month battery life and dropped the extra SB© USB ports if it could have meant a few ounces shaved off.
Also, the characters printed on the switches makes for a very busy look, with multiple alternate functions on almost every key. Finally, the glossy silver kind of fits in with the MacBook Pro, but I d have rather seen a nice matte silver or black.
Overall, the Matias SB© Laptop Pro Bluetooth keyboard for Mac is a product that s hard to complain about. I enjoyed typing on it, Matias keyboards are know for their quality and longevity, the Cherry Browns are a proven, popular choice, and it s great to see a wireless mechanical keyboard.
If $170 is the price of admission, I could see more than a few people spending the money and picking up an input device that will last them for multiple years of typing.