Many Mac users from way back in the legacy era consider the old ADB Apple Extended Keyboard II to be the best keyboard Apple ever made. The most enthusiastic aficionados of the Extended Keyboard II contend that it was the best computer keyboard ever, although some of us might debate that, especially fans of the legendary IBM model M ‘board (never offered in a Mac version), and devotees like me of short-travel scissors-action laptop-type keyboards.
However, there’s a new contender for the Extended Keyboard II and IBM Model M keyboards’ laurels, and it will be available for Mac OS X users in a couple of months. In the meantime, we have been supplied with an early production tester of the new Das Keyboard Model S Professional for Mac, and while a full product review is forthcoming, and it’s early days yet, I thought I would relay my initial impressions, which are so far very positive.
Before I even had the Das Keyboard tester unit out of its shipping carton after our review unit arrived in the mail, it was obvious to me this was not going to be a run of the mill keyboard. Its weight alone assured that. It’s not as heavy or bulky as the five-pound Extended Keyboard II, of which I still have an example, but this is a big, heavy, substantial piece of equipment compared with the featherweight and anorexically thin keyboard hardware to which we’ve become accustomed in recent years. The Teutonic nomenclature is very appropriate, as Das Keyboard brings to mind the understated solidity, superb fit and finish, and precision feel of fine German automobiles like Mercedes-Benz or BMW. Indeed, in terms of feel I would have to rate it as superior to the sainted Extended Keyboard II.
In point of dact, DOS Keyboard actually does have German-engineered Cherry MX Blue mechanical keyswitches. The manufacturer compares it to the revered IBM model M, and touts the gold-plated (literally) mechanical Cherry keyswitches as best-in-class, and providing the classic “clicky” keyboard action and sound that many users find so satisfying. The audio part maybe a debatable matter of taste, but a lot of people do prefer it. Also in the quality column, the key cap inscriptions are Lszer-etched to prevent fading or wearing off.
Another departure from recent mainstream keyboard design practice is that Das Keyboard includes a high-speed USB repeater hub that allows you to sync and charge your iPhone, iPod, iPad, or any USB compatible device by plugging it into the ‘board.
Das Keyboard also comes equipped with a generously long two-meter (6.6 feet) cable that runs through a desk grommet to keep your workspace neat and tidy. Another thoughtful touch is that Das Keyboard sports media keys for quick access to volume control, next, previous track, sleep, etc.
System requirements are pretty basic: Mac OS X 10.4 or later. No software drivers are required. Mac OS X will recognize Das Keyboard automatically upon plugging it in.
These are just some initial thoughts and observations, and as noted, we’ll be posting a full review well before Das Keyboard Model S Professional for Mac ships. The keyboard is currently available online for pre-ordering, and will scheduled to be shipping by April 15. Available in the U.S. and Canada, the Model S Professional for Mac retails for $133. A 15% discount is currently available on pre-orders for this newest member of the Das Keyboard family.