59

I'd like to invest in a new keyboard - I've been typing on a MacBook Pro keyboard forever and, while I love it, it's time for something new and slightly more ergonomic.

Requirements:

  • Must play nice with my 2012 MacBook Pro
  • Must not slide around too easily, that's my pet peeve with keyboards
  • Must be affordable (ideally < $200, but much less would be better)
  • Format should be US/QWERTY. Bonus points if I can rip the keycaps off and turn it onto Dvorak, if I ever get the ambition up to do so.

Ideally:

  • Bluetooth, I don't have very many spare USB ports
  • Have an option to have an OS X-style 'command' key symbol instead of the nasty Windows key symbol.
  • Not sound like hail hitting a tin roof, that makes me cringe when I type.

Not needed:

  • Numeric pad: I hate those things and never use them anyway
  • Portability: I don't have any issues using my MacBook keyboard when travelling.

I've heard good things about the CODE keyboards - does anyone have any experience with them? Are there other keyboards that might work well for my needs?

38

Like the CODE keyboard, I will recommend the WASD Keyboards 87-key mechanical keyboard. The base cost is $145 USD, but it can get up to $185. Let's look at your requirements one by one.

Requirements:

  • Must play nice with my 2012 MacBook Pro

This uses a standard USB connector with no special drivers. This will work with your MacBook.

  • Must not slide around too easily, that's my pet peeve with keyboards

It weighs 2 pounds and has rubber feet on the bottom to prevent it from moving around. Even with the plastic feet up at the back to tilt the keyboard, it won't move around on its own.

  • Must be affordable (ideally < $200, but much less would be better)

Depending on your choices, which I will get to at the bottom, this keyboard will run anywhere from $140-185 USD. It is a more expensive keyboard, but you do get what you pay for.

  • Format should be US/QWERTY. Bonus points if I can rip the keycaps off and turn it onto Dvorak, if I ever get the ambition up to do so.

Since this is a mechanical keyboard, you can pop off the keys if you wish. However, the keys are only the same if they are on the same row. When you order, you get the opportunity to customize the key-caps. You can have both the QWERTY lettering and Dvorak lettering on the same keyboard.

There are hardware switches on the keyboard that allow you to switch the layout from QWERTY to Dvorak. You just have to unplug the keyboard to do it (more about this below).

Ideally:

  • Bluetooth, I don't have very many spare USB ports

This does not come with Bluetooth. You are going to have to use a USB port.

  • Have an option to have an OS X-style 'command' key symbol instead of the nasty Windows key symbol.

They offer the Windows, Mac, and Linux symbols for the keyboards.

  • Not sound like hail hitting a tin roof, that makes me cringe when I type.

There are quieter switches available for this keyboard. Stay away from the green and blue switches. If you need help picking switches for your keyboard, check out Jeff Atwood's answer on Super User.

Not needed:

  • Numeric pad: I hate those things and never use them anyway

This keyboard does not have a numeric pad.

  • Portability: I don't have any issues using my MacBook keyboard when traveling.

This keyboard could be taken with you, but it might be best to leave it at home.

Other Pros:

  • Hardware switches (on the underside of the keyboard) allow you to further customize your keyboard. Check out their documentation to see exactly what they can do.

  • You can choose how this keyboard will look and feel by changing the key-caps (the colors and lettering for each key), the type of switch, and add in O-rings to reduce noise from the keyboard. O-rings are like tiny rubber bands that go on the bottom of each key to reduce the noise of the key-cap bottoming out (known as the "clack"). O-rings cost $15 and $10 extra to have them install them for you.

  • The USB cable is removable. It is a standard USB-A to USB-micro cable.

  • You can completely change out the keys if you ever grow tired of the way it looks.

Other Cons:

  • Some Cherry MX switches are more expensive than the others. Browns add $5 to the cost, Reds add $10, and Clears and Green add $15.

  • Unlike the CODE Keyboard, this is not back-lit. This can make it more difficult to type on in the dark.

  • The keyboard and the key-caps are quite thick. From the bottom of the keyboard to the top of the first row keys is about one inch. This can take some time to get used to if you are coming from a thin or laptop keyboard.

25

CODE keyboards are, indeed, some of the best I've found.

I run the CODE 104 MX Blue, and I've loved it.

  • It doesn't slip (rubberized feet, and good weight).
  • $145 (incidentally, all the CODE keyboards are well within your budget)
  • Nice and clicky like a mechanical should be - but the "hail on a tin roof" is dampened so you don't get constant rattling (use MX Brown caps if you want completely dampened clicks)
  • There's a version of it without a numpad
  • It does have the Windows key not a command key - but you can disable the Windows logo key or swap it to function as a command key
  • Backlit (adjustable and toggleable)
  • You can toggle between QWERTY, Dvorak, and a couple of other layouts

I use it with a Windows laptop, so I can't guarantee it works on a Mac - but I'd imagine it does. Also, it comes by default as wired USB - this is convertible to a PS/2 connection, but I don't believe it's Bluetooth-enabled.

  • I'm not sure about CODE, but most of the cherry-MX based boards have compatible keycaps, so if the style used on that keyboard aren't too unique you could always order a replacement keycap with a mac command icon for the windows keys. Also worth mentioning cherry-MX brown switches for the tactile feel without the clicky click click. – casey Sep 10 '15 at 21:36
  • 4
    I wouldn't recommend MX Blue switches for programming in a million years. Blues are extremely loud compared to any other type. If audible tactile sound and feedback are needed, MX Brown is the way to go. – Adam Sep 11 '15 at 0:05
  • 1
    I like my clicky keys, so I'm probably not the person to recommend keycaps. If MX Brown is quieter, and you want that, then go for those. Keycaps are substitutable. – ArtOfCode Sep 11 '15 at 7:45
20

I have been using this keyboard for several years (I bought two, one for home and one for work): Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard.

  • It works fine with my Macbook pros (I have used 2010 and 2015 with it) as well as Windows.
  • There are pads which don't slip (rubber feet)
  • $70 or so on Amazon currently
  • US/QWERTY setup, with no numberpad (which adds a huge amount of ergo experience, you save a lot of arm movement when you use your mouse)
  • It's clicklet key, which means it is pretty quiet (similar to my Macbook Pros)
  • No number pad attached (it has a detached one, which is nice the few times you need one)
  • Has a single small usb receiver (just 1 for both numberpad/keyboard)
  • Batteries last quite some time in the keyboard, the numberpad is less so but I never use it so I don't bother replacing

When I have looked in the past few years it is the only non-wired, ergonomic keyboard without a number pad.

The only disadvantage is it's usb.

  • 3
    I would definitely second this. Extremely comfortable to use. I have two of these, one for home, one for work. You can also carry it in a backpack. This is an amazing keyboard. The mouse that comes with it is also amazing. – Kaveh Sep 11 '15 at 3:50
  • 1
    Microsoft interface devices are generally very good. I was sad to see my Intellimouse 3.0 finally bite the dust. – Adam Wykes Sep 8 '16 at 20:59
3

I'd recommend the Matias Laptop Pro. Subjectively, the Quiet Click switches are possibly my favorite quiet switch.


Let's compare with your requirements:

Must play nice with my 2012 MacBook Pro

Mine works very nicely with my 2009 MacBook Pro and my iPhone.

Must not slide around too easily, that's my pet peeve with keyboards

Haven't found it to be a problem.

Must be affordable (ideally < $200, but much less would be better)

Cost is $170+shipping from Matias, currently $160 and free shipping with Prime on Amazon.

Format should be US/QWERTY. Bonus points if I can rip the keycaps off and turn it onto Dvorak, if I ever get the ambition up to do so.

This board is US/QWERTY. You may want to order separate F & J keys if you don't want the homing bumps to be in the wrong spots. As a bonus, the stock caps for this board also list the characters you can type using option+key and option+shift+key.

Ideally:

Bluetooth, I don't have very many spare USB ports

This one is 100% bluetooth.

Have an option to have an OS X-style 'command' key symbol instead of the nasty Windows key symbol.

Also has the modifiers in the proper OS X order and says "option" instead of "alt".

Not sound like hail hitting a tin roof, that makes me cringe when I type.

It's not as quiet as my TypeHeaven, but not any louder than the MX Clear switches of the CODE keyboard. Decidedly not a "superclicker".

Not needed:

Numeric pad: I hate those things and never use them anyway

None to worry about here.

Portability: I don't have any issues using my MacBook keyboard when travelling.

You're getting that anyway.

3

I've been using the Kinesis Freestyle 2 for Mac for several years now. I had the original Freestyle, but wore it out!

The Freestyle is unique in that it is a split keyboard with the two halves connected with a cable. It is USB (which I prefer) and has native Mac keys and no number pad. I also like the black color which doesn't show dirt. It's a quiet keyboard with a fairly soft touch.

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