Keys to success?

matias tactile pro 3

I’ve been searching for a long time for a really fine keyboard for the Apple Macintosh, and the search has taken, quite literally, years. As a writer, historian and photographer who uses his computer A LOT, it can become a wearing experience if the keyboard feels like you’re punching gravel.

That’s not to say the official Mac keyboards are rubbish, but I’ve owned numerous different models and, as many true Apple aficionados will tell you, while their look has improved dramatically over the last decade, the quality of the Apple typing experience has become, to be honest, a mediocre one, with lowest common denominator laptop-style key actions becoming the norm, and the old typewriter-style keys going, quite literally, out of style.

It has to be assumed that this has been done by Apple to cut costs. This seems plain daft to me, with such an expensive computer, but I suppose most people just knock off the odd letter, do a bit of web surfing and hammer the keys to death playing games. Not here – I write factual articles and stories for publication, edit websites and blogs, and of course use the Mac for hours at a time in my photographic pursuits. And I keep my Playstaton 3 for hammering away at games :O) Now, when I’m embarking upon even more stories and a first novel, is not the time to be whacking away at scissor-action or chiclet keys, or heaven forbid bubble wrap keys!

But as luck would have it, after recently upgrading my faithful Power Mac G5 to a 2008 Mac Pro (ah, the joys of eBay), I was contemplating keyboards again, and serendipitously received a timely email from Ms Barbara Perriman, the ever-friendly Support Services Manager at Matias Corporation in Canada, reminding me that the company’s latest Tactile Pro 3 keyboard was now manufactures in UK layout and would soon be available at their UK stockist The Keyboard Company, of Stroud, Gloucestershire.

In fact, I had been hearing good things about this keyboard for a while, though earlier versions apparently had their problems; it seemed this latest was the best of their Mac-dedicated designs, with proper feedback Alps ‘clicky’ mechanical keys, sculpted keytops and, remarkably, hard-wearing laser-engraved legends with all of the alternate symbols available as well. It certainly sounded a real pro’s tool, and the icing on the cake was a three-port USB 2.0 hub built into the keyboard, something which even Apple has never achieved.

I immediately placed my order and just a few days later my Matias Tactile Pro 3 UK arrived. Having just submitted for publication a ‘steampunk’ story written entirely using this keyboard and the equally excellent ‘Scrivener’ writers app (of which more anon), I am delighted to say that I was soon flying along at top speed, and writing in the paper-like full-screen mode, before long forgetting that I was even typing, my fingers became one with the keyboard in zen-like fashion. I kid you not, this keyboard breaks down the barriers between mind and machine.

The Matias Tactile Pro 3 is everything I had hoped for in a dedicated Mac keyboard, and I was equally pleased to be able to support a fellow Commonwealth country for a change, by buying Canadian!

OK, so no keyboard is going to match everyone’s preferences, but personally I cannot recommend this one too highly to writers, and at long last I have a keyboard which matches the superior quaities of the computer to which it’s attached.

Needless to say, all my other keyboards are going on eBay “real soon now”!

– Stuart

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