Jul 17, 2018 — by: Mark Reschke
Categories: MacBook, OS X, Predictions, Products, Review, Apple Retail Stores, MacBook with retina display

Macbook_pro_2016I was an early adopter of the original MacBook. 2 pounds, retina display, a cool looking space gray and all-new keyboard design, which, at the time felt fantastic. The MacBook keyboard delivered accurate, short throws. I loved it. Then the keyboard issues began to arrive.

The first oddity, which I had never experienced with any Mac keyboard, was the black color of the keys literally began rubbing off. The inverted white lettering started expanding, resulting in a huge white blob. Apple simply conducted an in-store replacement for the keys with the issue. I noticed the new keys had a slightly different finish and tint to them, so figured the early runs had an issue and Apple would simply replace original keys as they rubbed out.

Nope.

Fading_keys

The newly replaced keys also began fading and I keys also began sticking, not popping back up. Finally, one key would simply not spring back up out of actuation. Apple was going to replace the entire top cover, which includes the entire keyboard, and aluminum top frame. It's a fair amount of work for sure, so I wasn't going to complain, I was just glad they were going to fix it once and for all.

Two days later a Genius walked out from the back room with a shiny new MacBook box. She explained that during the top cover removal process, they accidentally cut a cable and needed to give me a new one. I hadn't back up in quite a while (I know, I know...), but they imaged my old hard drive onto the new one and problems were solved... so I thought.

Roughly eight months after having the all new MacBook, once more the keys began fading and were sticking just like the previous MacBook. Apple would again replace the top cover. A few days later and I received my repaired MacBook. Only it wasn't my MacBook with a new top cover. I noticed the screen was replaced and the bottom panel (which the motherboard is attached) was also new. In fact, looking at the service paperwork Apple claimed they replaced the USB-C connector, the motherboard (because it had an issue), the battery (which apparently had an issue), the display, everything! Yet this wasn't a "new" computer, rather, Apple service claimed just replaced everything and as such had to perform a clean install of the the latest macOS. I knew this wasn't right, and the proof was in the fact that the macOS wasn't High Sierra, nor even Sierra, but El Capitan! This MacBook had been sitting around in the service inventory for well over a year...

What Apple was doing was giving me an all new MacBook – again – but claiming they replaced everything on my old one, resulting in only a 90 day warranty, not another full year. Meh, another new MacBook, good enough, and I had a very recent backup so all was well... Maybe.

Yet again some keys began sticking, specifically the spacebar and a shift key were sticking. I immediately took it into Apple, explained how this wasn't truly my old MacBook that was repaired, rather it was a new one. Apple claimed it was my old one repaired simply to skirt another full year warranty. "What did Apple service do, replace every single piece of my computer, but kept one old screw so they could say it wasn't new, they just upgraded everything?" I explained. The Genius clearly understood what Apple service had done, agreed it wasn't the most ethical move and went into the back room and brought out a brand new MacBook for me. Would the keyboard issues be solved?

So far so good!

The newest MacBook (this is my fourth MacBook mind you) has a slightly revised keyboard, of that I am convinced. The keys are slightly softer to the touch and not as loud as the previous three MacBooks. I'm not sure what Apple has done with the MacBook keyboard, but somehow they've made some minor improvements which one can only assume are meant to help with sticking and won't rub off so easily. At the very least, others won't hear me clanging away nearly as much while in meetings!

Apple has taken the revised MacBook keyboard and pushed it into its third generation in the new MacBook Pro. I visited a local Apple Store today, pulled out my current MacBook and typed away, then typed on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. Wow! My improved MacBook keyboard must still be twice as loud as the new MacBook Pro's version. I type hard, yet when letting up just a little the new MacBook Pro, clicking was nearly imperceptible in the store. Granted, Apple Stores are not exactly qualify as a sound studio environment, but it wasn't busy nor that loud, and yet the keyboard could hardly be heard.

Mbp_under_keyThe changes to the MacBook Pro keyboard go beyond just reducing decibels. The silicon layer beneath the key caps also delivers a firm, solid, luxury feel to key striking. When contacting only the edges of a key, there is no shifting feeling or tilt to them. They press down firmly, confidently and evenly. There is still a bit of play in my newest MacBook keys, but little to none with the MacBook Pro.

The MacBook received a minor update to its keyboard, but the MacBook Pro received a massive upgrade and it feels fantastic. In fact, I can imagine Apple moving to a solid-state keyboard soon, with Apple's Force Touch feedback, and it feeling a lot like today's confident feeling mechanical MacBook Pro keyboard.

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