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Best Keyboard for Mac Mini?

Posted by bitguru on May 24, 2007

Since the Mac Mini1 doesn’t come with a mouse and keyboard, I’ve spent some time trying to decide which keyboard is best for it.

This is different from deciding what is the best keyboard. I could say the best keyboard is one featuring the Dvorak key layout. While that would be fine for me, it would hardly be a good recommendation for the general population. Or I could say that this cool keyboard with a 48×48-pixel color display for each and every key is the best, but it costs US$15002. That’s twice the price of a Mini, so hardly appropriate.

So my goal is to find a quasi-normal USB keyboards that are inexpensive, but not so cheap that quality suffers. It’s well worth it, I believe, to spend a few extra dollars for quality input devices3.

I also intend, at least for now, to restrict myself to corded keyboards. There are a lot of wireless keyboards out there, many of them cheaper than corded keyboards, but having to keep changing the batteries is inconvenient and I just don’t see any advantage for most users.

The candidates are:

  • Apple USB Keyboard. This is the keyboard that is included with other Macs, and it gets fairly good reviews. Not surprisingly, the option keys are in the typical Mac layout and feature the typical Mac symbols4. It costs US$30, which should serve as a soft maximum price for keyboards to make this list.
  • Macallay iceKey. This is a scissor-key keyboard (like most laptops have) and has been getting surprisingly good reviews. It costs about US$40. Evidently the volume and eject keys don’t work on OSX without drivers, which is too bad. [Don’t confuse this model with the similarly named iKey, which has tall non-laptop style keys and poor reviews, or iKey Slim, which gets mediocre reviews but it is cheaper and has media keys that work without OSX drivers.]
  • Fujitsu Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite2 for Mac. Ok, this one is expensive and hard to find in the US, but I had to mention it. The compact layout may not be for everyone.
  • Kensington Comfort Type USB/PS2. I hesitate to mention this model because of the weird trapezoidal keys, but Kensington has a good reputation and it’s cheap. Most stores sell it for under US$15. If anyone out there has experience with this thing, please leave a comment with your thoughts.
  • Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 2000. It’s ugly, but if you don’t mind the curved shape it has received a couple of good reviews and costs less than US$20 at most stores.

I’m sure there’s some other keyboards that should be on this list. If you know of any, please leave a comment. Also leave a comment if you know of any web pages that cover the topic of keyboards for the Mac Mini. I would have guessed there would be many such pages, but I was unable to find any.

1Apple suggests I shouldn’t capitalize Mini but I don’t always follow its whims. I also call their operating system OSX without a space between S and X.

2It’s actually 44,000 Russian rubles, but close enough.

3So if anyone out there is still using a mouse with a rubber ball in it, I recommend you upgrade to an optical mouse. You can buy a decent one for under US$15.

4USB keyboards intended for PCs work fine on Macs. The key labeled alt maps to option and the windows/start key maps to command, but the relative position of these two keys are usually reversed from the typical Mac layout. If the key order bothers you, you can use OSX’s Keyboard & Mouse control panel to swap the functions of those keys.

2 Responses to “Best Keyboard for Mac Mini?”

  1. […] is an Inland “Windows 107-Key USB Keyboard” (which, at $4.99, just may be the cheapest keyboard for Mac Mini). […]

  2. […] Apple introduced a smaller wired keyboard today. It’s sort of a combination of the existing slimline wired keyboard (which has a numeric keypad) and the existing Bluetooth wireless one (which doesn’t). All three are new since I last discussed keyboards for Mac Mini two years ago. […]

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