Analysis of Matias Tactile One Keyboard

2012-03-22 12:44:58 UTC

I can’t really call this a “review”, because I don’t have one (it costs two hundred freaking dollars), but I did notice some things about the Matias Tactile One Keyboard (which I saw an ad for in MacTech magazine) that I wanted to write down.

  • Weird fn key placement: They put it where the AEK2 and Tactile Pro have the right ctrl key. (Indeed, it looks like the lower-right caps are the same sizes as their mirror counterparts in the lower-left.)
  • Weird eject (⏏) key placement: It’s fn-return. Huh?
  • Weird ⌦ key placement: It’s where the AEK2 and Tactile Pro have the right option key. That’s because…
  • No six-block. The AEK2 and Tactile Pro have a block of six keys—four navigation-related, plus “help” and ⌦—above the arrow keys, between the letter-board and number pad. The One, for some reason, omits this. The full photo shows an iPhone resting there, but I see a missed opportunity in its place: For two hundred freaking dollars, they could have put in an iPhone/iPod dock in the gap between the function keys, and kept the six-block.
    • As on Apple’s laptops and Wireless Keyboard, they moved the navigation keys onto the arrow keys as their fn variants.
  • PC-style number pad (with double-height plus key and no equals key), even on the so-called Mac version. This made sense for the Unicomp SpaceSaver M and Das Keyboard Model S for Mac, since they’re PC keyboard manufacturers and probably reused the same PCB (also, both of those keyboards’ fn key placement follows from the Windows layout’s extra “menu” key in the same area), but I can’t figure why Matias did this.
  • An extra tab key where the clear key used to be. I like this idea.

The headlining feature of the “One Keyboard” series (and the reason why they call it that) is the fact that you can switch it between talking to your Mac over USB and talking to some other device (nominally an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad) over Bluetooth. If they brought that and the number-pad tab key to the Tactile Pro, that might be worth $150 to me. (As for $200? No. Never have I wanted to use the same keyboard on both my Mac and iPad.)

3 Responses to “Analysis of Matias Tactile One Keyboard”

  1. Nicholas Riley Says:

    You mean fn-return, not fn-enter… and yes, that’s pretty weird considering how fn-return *is* enter on recent Apple no-keypad keyboards.

    Also, one of the pictures (http://matias.ca/onekeyboard/tactile/viewer/?p=1) shows the Tactile Pro layout with the iPhone, without a Fn key, with volume/eject keys, etc. I can’t imagine using the weirdly positioned Fn key for page up/down/etc; it’s way too close to the arrows.

  2. Peter Hosey Says:

    You mean fn-return, not fn-enter…

    Oops, yeah. Fixed; thanks.

    … and yes, that’s pretty weird considering how fn-return is enter on recent Apple no-keypad keyboards.

    Another good point.

    Also, one of the pictures (http://matias.ca/onekeyboard/tactile/viewer/?p=1) shows the Tactile Pro layout with the iPhone, without a Fn key, with volume/eject keys, etc.

    Huh. I hadn’t even noticed that. I wonder what the story behind that is.

    I can’t imagine using the weirdly positioned Fn key for page up/down/etc; it’s way too close to the arrows.

    I’d say that’s a feature. The laptop/AWK positioning is worse on this score; I have to hold down fn with my left hand and press the desired arrow key with my right. Having fn in the right corner means you can do page-up/page-down/etc. with one hand.

  3. Edgar Matias Says:

    Found this through Twitter, and thought I’d answer a few of the questions raised…

    First though, I want to say that this is a radical new design, so we took some liberties with the layout that we wouldn’t normally do on a standard keyboard. Compromises were necessary.

    We positioned Fn to allow Fn-Up = PgUp and Fn-Down = PgDown to be a one-handed operation. Same reason for Fn-Return = Eject.

    To control the iPhone, you need to be able to touch it, so we needed a spot on the keyboard to hold the iPhone. We did usability tests and the 6-block area was the only one that really worked. It was the most comfortable.

    We made a conscious choice NOT to put a dock connector on the keyboard. Most people have their iPhones in cases, which are generally not compatible with docks.

    The big + key on the number pad is because we’re doing Mac and PC versions of the keyboard, and it simplified manufacturing to have a big + key on both. PC users *hate* the small + key. Also, I don’t think the = key on the numberpad gets much use.

    Glad you like the Tab key. :-)

    As for the price, mechanical keyboards with fancy electronics are expensive to make. That’s why we offer the $99 model that’s not mechanical, but still feels amazing.

    Thanks for your interest…

    Edgar

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