As you might imagine,
there's really not much to setting up the keyboard. Take the iceKey out of the box,
plug the USB connector into an available USB port on your Mac, and you are up and
typing! There is no software driver needed for standard keys (software driver is
required for multimedia keys).
The iceKey is a very
low-profile keyboard, and styled and themed to really compliment the iMac that I
tested it on. I have my iMac sitting on an iGo stand, and the space on the stand for a keyboard
is limited. None of my other keyboards fit that space, besides the original Apple
keyboard that came with the iMac, and now the iceKey.
In addition to closely matching the keyboard space dimensions of the Apple keyboard,
the iceKey is also much thinner than your standard keyboard. This means it can slide
into smaller drawer spaces. The keys are much lower than a standard keyboard, providing
a shorter travel distance when depressing the keys. It's similar to the key profile
on a Powerbook or other laptops, except that you have a full size keyboard. It requires
less effort to press a key than on a standard plunger-style key. On a single keystroke,
the difference in effort is not a lot, but extended over time, that effort of thousands
of keystrokes each day can really start to add up. For some, including myself, it
takes some getting used to when you've spent years on the deeper keystrokes, but
in the long run, it reduces strain and effort on your fingers and joints. I began
to notice that after about a month of use.
The iceKey uses
a standard USB cable to connect to your Mac, and includes two USB ports on both sides
of the keyboard (for your mouse or other USB device). It plugs in and works just
fine out of the box. It comes with a nice long USB cable (60 inches versus the 34
inches on the Apple keyboard), so if you have a tower, you are less likely to have
any "reach" problems. There are three LEDs on the top right of the keyboard:
Power, Caps Lock, and Num Lock.
The only difference in terms of available keys between the latest Apple keyboard
and the iceKey is that the iceKey does not include the F16 key. Also, the four multimedia
keys over the numeric keyboard require a software driver to be installed for the
keys to work (software is included with the keyboard, as well as can be downloaded
from Macally's website). The multimedia keys are volume up, volume down, mute and
CD eject. There is one additional blank key on the iceKey that I didn't even notice
at first. It's to the right of the right control key, and basically does not function
(with or without the driver installed). This mystery key does not interfere with
using the keyboard, but it does make you wonder why it's there. I would have preferred
that the key not be there, and that the working keys be wider to fill in the gap.
The iceKey's performance is excellent. While other keyboards I've noticed in the
PC world seem to be suffering a lot from shabby design and keys that aren't always
responsive, I found the iceKey to be perfectly responsive, and that's saying a lot
considering how fast I type. No matter how fast I typed, the keys that I pressed
were always acknowledged. The keys feel good when they are pressed, a solid tactile
response (without the loud clicks).
There's also a second added benefit to the low profile keys besides the shorter travel
distance. Have you ever noticed how gross your keyboard starts to get over time just
from the accumulation of grease, dirt and dust? It's easy to clean the tops of the
keys, but for the standard keyboards, the majority of the dirt is on the sides of
the keys. With the shorter length of the keys on the iceKey, there is much less side
space, and of what sides there are, they are easier to clean than the longer keys.
(Editorial note: I first wrote "length of the iceKey keys", which sounded
strange, hence my rewording; but it does highlight the notion that using the name
in speech should be considered when naming a product; of course, no one bungled that
as bad as Apple and their uncreative naming of their email application "Mail").
There's just one more thing I want to add regarding the iceKey. I've noticed on various
websites that PC users are adopting the iceKey to use with their PCs. The keyboard
is so unique and reliable, that a Mac keyboard is being adopted by PC users. That's
saying a lot considering the that iceKey driver is Mac only, and that the key names
are purely Mac. Normally, we Mac users end up using a PC product that doesn't have
a Mac equivalent, hoping that it works on the Mac, and knowing that there is no real
Mac support for the product. It's nice, for a change, to see things reversed!
The Macally iceKey
is a low profile USB keyboard for the Mac. It comes in a very stylish and sporty
pro-Mac theme, complete with a full set of keys (sans the F16 key), two USB ports,
and a nice long USB cable. Its low profile design allows the keyboard to be used
anywhere the Apple keyboard is used, and its thin design allows for short drawer
space usage. The shorter keys on the iceKey mean less travel distance, less strain
on your fingers over time, and less dirt on the keys. The keyboard does take some
getting used to, depending upon the number of years you've spent with longer keys,
and your ability to change. There is an unmarked unusable "mystery" key,
but it does not impact the use of the keyboard in the slightest. The iceKey is a
reliable and responsive keyboard, unique in design, and truly ergonomical, making
it a hot addition to any Mac system.
- Low profile keyboard,
thin and lightweight
- Shorter keys means less
travel and less dirt
- Stylish Mac-savvy design
- Long USB cable
- Unusable mystery key
- May require some getting
- Missing the F16 key
4 out of 5 Mice