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12 Jul 17:40

2018 MacBook Pro Has 'Quieter' Keyboard, But Unclear if Sticky and Unresponsive Key Issues Addressed

by Joe Rossignol
Apple today released new 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models that feature "improved" and "quieter" third-generation keyboards, but it's unclear if issues with sticky or unresponsive keys have been addressed.

TechCrunch's Brian Heater:
I can say definitively that the keyboard is noticeably quieter than its predecessor. I wasn't able to get a side by side comparison yet… but as someone who uses a Pro with the second-gen keyboard every day, I can confirm that the improvement is immediately apparent.

Otherwise, there's really no difference with the new keyboards from a mechanical perspective. The butterfly switches are the same, and they offer the same amount of key travel as their predecessors. The company won’t actually say what it's done here to lower the clickity-clack… but it's certainly an improvement.
Heater speculates that Apple may not have had enough lead time to completely redesign the keyboard on the 2018 MacBook Pro, as despite years of anecdotal complaints, the situation only developed into a furor more recently.

iMore's Rene Ritchie is more optimistic that Apple hopefully reengineered the keyboards to have improved reliability:
There is a new keyboard. Or rather, newish. It's a 3rd generation Butterfly and Dome switch set up. That's not what scissor-key fans are going to want to hear, but Apple believes it's a better, more stable, more precise overall typing experience and is sticking with it.

It's been reengineered though, and while I'm sure — or at least I desperately hope — reliability will improve — the major focus was on reducing the loudness. That, according to Apple, has been some of the most intense feedback the company has gotten over the new keyboards.
The Verge's Dieter Bohn, however, says the third-generation keyboard "wasn't designed to solve those issues," based on what Apple told him during a press briefing for the new MacBook Pro earlier this week.
This new third-generation keyboard wasn't designed to solve those issues, Apple says. In fact, company representatives strenuously insisted that the keyboard issues have only affected a tiny, tiny fraction of its user base…

When we asked Apple representatives at the event exactly how the keyboard was changed to make it quieter, they declined to specify.
That can be interpreted in two ways: either Apple has not made any structural changes to the keyboard to address the issues outlined in its service program, or it has and doesn't want to acknowledge it on the record.

Engadget's Dana Wollman also believes, based on Apple's information, that the "stability and precision of the keys remain unchanged":
As for the keyboard, it's supposedly quieter. Though I had a few minutes to play with it in my demo this week, I'm not ready to pass any sort of judgment. For one thing, I never thought the MacBook Pro keyboard was that loud to begin with, and when I had a chance to try it this week there was no opportunity to do a side-by-side test. It does appear, based on everything Apple has said, that the stability and precision of the keys remain unchanged.
MacRumors reached out to Apple for clarification, but we did not immediately receive a response. We'll update if we hear back.

For context, following years of anecdotal complaints from customers, and a few class action lawsuits, Apple initiated a worldwide service program last month, offering free repairs of 2015-and-later MacBook and 2016-and-later MacBook Pro keyboards, which have low-profile butterfly switch mechanisms.

We've already reported about the service program in more detail, but the gist is that affected MacBook and MacBook Pro models can experience issues with sticky, unresponsive, or inconsistently functioning keys when small particles like dust or crumbs get stuck underneath the shallow keycaps.

Teardowns and extended usage of the 2018 MacBook Pro keyboards should reveal whether the issues have been fully addressed.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums

13 May 12:26

KGI: Apple likely to launch 10.5-inch iPad Pro and Siri Speaker at WWDC alongside new software

by Benjamin Mayo

Apple’s WWDC conference kicks off on June 5th and whilst it is predominantly a software conference, reliable Apple analyst KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo is reporting that he expects Apple to launch two new hardware products next month.

Repeating previous claims, Kuo says there is a more than 50% chance of the Siri Speaker, an all-new category for the company. In addition, he says that there is more than 70% chance of an all-new design 10.5-inch iPad Pro to be announced at the keynote.


06 Oct 15:56

Microsoft announces Surface Book laptop with 13.5-inch display starting at $1,499

by Jacob Kastrenakes

Microsoft is changing up the Surface line today with the introduction of a Surface laptop called the Surface Book. It's the first laptop ever built by Microsoft. But it's a lot more than a laptop. The screen is actually fully removable so that it can be used as a tablet. If you put the screen back on, you can also choose to flip it all the way around and use it like a convertible, with the keyboard propping it up.

The Surface Book includes a 13.5-inch display with a pixel density of 267PPI. That display is optically bonded to the glass, which means it should look good. Microsoft says the Surface Book is housed in a machined magnesium body — basically, it's a silver metal laptop, but it manages to look far different than a MacBook, despite its similarities in name. Perhaps the standout design element here is the Surface Book's hinge. Microsoft calls it a "dynamic fulcrum." From the side, it appears to almost flex as it bends. It leaves a slightly awkward gap when the Surface Book is fully closed, but it also elevates the display at an angle when the screen is flipped around for use as a tablet. A button on the side releases the display, which detaches from the top of the hinge.

Microsoft says the Surface Book is for someone who wants a bigger screen and "the perfect typing experience" of a laptop. For one, that includes a backlit keyboard. There's also deeper keys, with 1.6mm of travel. Microsoft is kind of freaking out about this keyboard. It's calling it "perfect" and saying it'll type almost silently. Beneath all that, the Surface Book includes a glass trackpad with five points of touch sensitivity.

Naturally, the Surface Book will work with Microsoft's Surface Pen stylus as well. As for why you'd want to use this device as a tablet, Microsoft is talking about it as a "digital clipboard." That's not the most compelling phrase, but it's really everything that the Surface line has always been: a very powerful tablet that runs desktop Windows. This one just happens to do a much better job of transforming into the laptop that it really wants to be.

There's more power in the keyboard dock

On the inside, the Surface Book has the latest Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, from the Skylake family. There's also an Nvidia GeForce GPU with GDDR5 memory, however that's located in the base, so you'll need to keep the display docked to tap into its power. The dock also includes two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot.

All together, the machine is supposed to keep running for 12 hours on a single charge. "Ounce-for-ounce, pound-for-pound," Microsoft claims, "this is the fastest 13-inch laptop ever made anywhere on any planet." Microsoft says it'll actually be twice as fast as the MacBook Pro.

The Surface Book will go on sale October 26th with prices beginning at $1,499. Preorders will begin October 7th.

Microsoft: Surface Pen demo

Developing. Check out our Microsoft’s hardware event live blog for the latest updates and our Microsoft page for all the news!

05 Sep 07:58

Not Sure If Next-Gen Mirror's Edge Or Real Life

by Luke Plunkett

Boy, these guys did a damn fine job nailing the game's trademark style, from the outfit to the obstacles to the field of view on the camera they used.


26 Jul 08:40

MINI Folding Bike

by Andrew Kim

As you may know, I recently moved from LA to the Seattle area. I live in downtown Bellevue and found that (unlike my home in LA) nearly everything I needed could be reached without getting in my car. I also learned that parking in Seattle sucks and thought that a small folding bike could be quite handy as a range extender. I wasn’t sure on what I wanted but when I saw this folding bike by MINI online, it quickly entered my shopping cart.


The MINI Folding Bike is $548 and sold directly by MINI. I’ve even seen a dealer carry them, so it might be worth calling one if you don’t want to order online. MINI likes to think that the bike has been perfectly tailored for the MINI Cooper but it’s simply a modified Tern Link Uno. The interesting thing is that the MINI counterpart is actually $100 cheaper. Surprising to see something sold by a car dealer that is a value proposition. The model I have has the lime paint scheme, which MINI charges an extra $65. Seems a bit like a ripoff, but it’s totally worth it.


The bike certainly has a presence and I’ve gotten a few thumbs ups while stopped at a light next to a MINI. The highlighter green paint and massive MINI logo stand out of the crowd - so don’t park this bike in shady neighborhoods.  


I’ve never been a big fan of MINI and lost all respect in the brand when they started producing cars like the Countryman and Coupe. But for some reason, I’m strangely drawn to this MINI reincarnated as a bike. It almost feels like a more honest representation of the brand than some of the new models. I also find it interesting how the bike is a much more modern gesture than the forced retro appearance of its automotive counterparts.


The overall quality of the bike is superb. The frame is made from relatively light aluminum (or some alloy) and the MINI logo is painted and not a sticker.


In typical narcissistic automotive fashion, the bike is littered with MINI logos and badges everywhere. My rule for seeing no more than one logo at a time does not work here at all.


I do appreciate the Union Jack though.


Like every other folding bike, the MINI has a three-step folding mechanism. It’s easy to learn but a bit tedious in repetition.  


The bike completely collapsed. It fits into most car boots, making in an excellent range extender. I’m convinced that it may even be able to squeeze into something like the Cayman - but Boxster? Not happening. By the way, notice how the bike is able to stand by itself using the post of the seat. Nice.


MINI includes a small bag mounted under the seat. It’s supposed to be for a carrying bag for the bike but I use it to carry my lock. Why? It’s because...



... the bag sucks. It’s really thin and almost feels like it’s going to rip open at any moment. A trash bag is a good analogy. I don’t see any use for this.


What makes me really appreciate the MINI Folding Bike is the quality of the hardware. The latches and levers for folding are all machined out of metal and feel - for the lack of a better word - German. What I find particularly great is how stiff the bike feels when riding. Flex in the handle post and frame often ruin the folding bike experience, but not here. As usual - great components go a long way.


The front and rear wheels feature magnetic plates to keep the bike together when folded. Details.


One thing that concerned me immediately is how the paint seems easily chipped. My bike arrived with a few chips due to poor packaging (thankfully received a small refund) and chips in high contact areas like the frame’s hinges are probably unavoidable. Thankfully MINI does includes a bottle of touch-up paint.


The bike comes with a Selle Royal Royalgel saddle. I personally find it to be overly contoured and too squishy.


Removing the saddle and its post reveals a surprise: a built-in tire pump. It’s brilliant. It’s perfectly adequate for quick fills and pumping is made easy as the seat becomes a soft handle. What I find strange is that the MINI doesn’t mention this feature anywhere in their documentation. If I were them, I’d advertise the heck out of this.


EDIT  Someone emailed me this hilarious photo. I guess MINI does advertise the feature. ;) 


The pedal and kickstand are also of good quality.


The MINI comes with a supremely comfortable BioLogic handles. Gear shifts are also comfortable though the grip design is aesthetically atrocious.


MINI opted for 8 speeds which is well above average for a folding bike. I do wish that the gear shifts were a bit smoother though. By the way, the chain is Teflon coated to protect against dirt accumulation.  


Though it doesn’t make too much sense, the MINI is equipped with Schwalbe Kojak tires. They’re completely slick and designed specifically for speed. I think something with more off-road grip would have been more practical for everyday use.


The brakes are by Avid and feel solid. Though I’m sort of wishing it had disk brakes, I’ve found that these are perfectly capable at emergency stops.


The road is where you realize how well put together the bike is. The frame is very stiff and the bike handles brilliantly. There’s nothing that flexes or rattles and all the controls are light, making it ideal for the city.


I purchased Knog Beetle lights to comply with the law. I like simple silicone casing and they’re much brighter than you’d expect.


MINI includes a KLICKix adapter on the front of the bike to attach different accessories. I bought a small basket for quick grocery trips. I had initially thought the adapter looked stupid and removed it but now realize the utility of it.


This is by far the best bike I’ve ever owned and I’ve come to realize that a compact bike is mandatory for urban life. I respect full-sized bikes but the appeal of this is that you can carry it in your car or stow it away in a closet. If you've been thinking of getting a well-made folding bike, you can't go wrong with the MINI Folding Bike. There are cheaper options out there but you're truly getting what you're paying for here with no premium for the MINI branding.