[Off-Topic] Apple Magic Keyboard Review

The Apple Magic Keyboard isn’t a fountain pen (obviously), but it is a writing implement. So, not entirely off-topic. But the reality is, I got one recently, and I want to write about it. I’ve been an iPad user since the very first one, and an iPad Pro user since its initial release in 2015. I currently have the 2018 12.9″ iPad Pro (3rd Gen). I’ve used an external Bluetooth keyboard for as long as I can remember, certainly since 2015. It was only after the 2018 iPad Pro that a significant part of my writing was done on my iPad rather than my computer.

While the current situation (COVID-19 lockdowns, if you’re reading this in the distant future) has knocked my workflow for a loop, I tended to have three distinct keyboard scenarios with my iPad. The keyboard I currently use is a Keychron K2 mechanical keyboard with Gateron brown switches and double-shot PBT keycaps. It can connect with both my iPad and my laptop. It does have the ability for a third device, but I only have two paired with it. Switching between devices is easy.

While I did have a Smart Keyboard Cover with my first iPad Pro (that may not have been the exact name at that time), I never liked using it. Besides, that one was buggy, requiring two warranty replacements after complete failure. The third one had the intermittent Smart Connector problem, and I gave up on it rather than replace it. Even without all of the issues, I didn’t use it all that much. I just didn’t like the typing angle or the feel of the keyboard.

I do have a Brydge keyboard for my iPad Pro. The one without the trackpad. I liked the feel of it, although it had many of the issues I’ll mention below. Plus, it was hard to remove from the clips that held the iPad. The little rubber protectors became a pain to line up so the iPad would fit in the clips. Because I switch between keyboard use and tablet use several times a day, this became unworkable.

All this made me hesitant with the Magic Keyboard, but it did raise the iPad a little and promised easier removal.

Another item that might be important: I don’t use a case or cover of any sort on my iPad, which is my preference.

Work Office Setup

While I’m not using the office very much these days, when I was, I’d have my 16″ Macbook Pro sitting on a Nulaxy Laptop Stand. I use a Logitech MX Ergo Trackball that also connects to both the laptop and iPad. The iPad is on a simple Amazon Basics stand off to the side. I may use the keyboard and mouse to locate a reference doc, but it is rarely used. I’m more likely to pick the iPad up and use it as a tablet, with the pencil to read and markup documents.

The Apple Magic Keyboard doesn’t work at all in this scenario. It’s much easier to toggle the switch on the keyboard in front of me rather than contort my body to use the Apple keyboard. Plus, it doesn’t fit in where I like my iPad, so it’s not suitable as a stand either. I could re-arrange my desk, but to what benefit?

While removing the iPad is not difficult, it does require two hands, despite what the ads show. Yes, the base is heavy and stable, but using one hand to hold it down is needed. There may be some exact angle and force that works with one hand, but I never found it.

So, the bottom line is that the Apple Magic Keyboard is unsuitable for how my work office is set up. I can’t see me changing my workflow to accommodate it.

Home Office Setup

This setup is pretty much the same as before the lockdown. The big difference is that I’m using the iPad for typing at my desk much more than I expected. I like physical queues to help set my work mode. I considered this desk mostly analog, optimized for pens and paper. At most, the iPad would be there for reference, minimal typing. My laptop would never touch this desk.

That has changed, as I spend most of my day at the desk. I still minimize laptop use at the desk but use the iPad much more than I expected. I’m typing this post using the setup in this picture.

Photo of my home office iPad setup

I have ordered a stand to raise the laptop higher. My neck does complain a bit after an extended typing session with the current setup. Those Apple Watch stand reminders are essential since I do have to get up and stretch before those neck muscles tighten up.

As shown in the picture, I like the iPad placed away from the keyboard, and the keyboard near me. I do move the keyboard distance (closer/further) during or between typing sessions to move my muscles around. I’m still trying to figure out the best setup ergonomically. I did try the Apple Magic Keyboard and quickly determined that the typing/viewing angle that is required wasn’t suitable for me long term.

I recently found my Apple Magic Trackpad, and it became part of my home office iPad setup. Before this, the Logitech trackball would travel, now I’ll just leave it in the office.

Coffee Shops

Obviously, I haven’t been able to take the iPad to a coffee shop, but I can make some informed assumptions based on my history. This mode is where I would benefit most from the Apple Magic Keyboard. Currently, or most recently, when I could, I would often work at a coffee shop or the library for an hour or two, just to change things up. Typically I would take my laptop, since it was easier than packing the iPad, external keyboard, and a stand.

With the Apple Magic Keyboard, it’s a safe bet that I would take the iPad rather than the laptop. Since the form factor is similar and I never type long enough for it to be a problem for me.

The Apple Magic Keyboard Itself

I sent the keyboard back because it didn’t fit in with my workflow. I wasn’t surprised, since having a keyboard attached to the iPad never really worked for me. If the Apple stores had been open, I would have gone in to see it in real life. Although honestly, I may have bought one anyway to get a hands-on look. Some other impressions of the keyboard, in no particular order:

  • The keyboard is heavy, but that didn’t bother me. It uses the weight to provide stability.
  • While the keyboard does seem solidly built, I do have concerns about long term durability. The material on the top of the keyboard feels a bit like plastic, while other surfaces are like felt and will collect dirt. I also would be concerned about the ability of the magnets to keep their strength and for the hinge to remain tight. They may be durable, only time will tell.
  • I didn’t mind the size of the trackpad, although its operation annoyed me a bit. It’s a mechanical trackpad. While it’s subjective, the sound annoyed me and sounded cheap, like plastic blocks snapping into place. While the trackpad is small, I find it very usable. I intensely disliked the click, but otherwise, the trackpad worked fine.
  • Despite being heavy, I didn’t find the keyboard lapable. To be fair, I don’t like using any computer on my lap. I can use my Macbook Pro that way, but I don’t like it. The iPad with the Apple Magic Keyboard wouldn’t balance on my lap and was unusable.
  • The typing experience was enjoyable. While not as good as my mechanical keyboard, it certainly better than any iPad keyboard I’ve tried.
  • When Apple changes the iPad design, this keyboard will become obsolete. The main concern would be the location of the smart connector. There may be a way to change the design, which Apple likes to do, while still fitting on the Magic Keyboard. But, no guarantees.

Wrapping Up

I returned the Apple Magic Keyboard to Apple. It didn’t fit in with my workflow. While it was nice, the best iPad attached keyboard I’ve used, I couldn’t justify the $350 price. Especially considering that I already had a working setup that I liked. My current setup is not as portable as I’d like, but I won’t be doing a lot of traveling in the near future.

Now that I’ve had my hands on the Magic Keyboard, I’ll be able to decide if it’s suitable should my situation change. I could then get another one, although that’s not likely to happen. It’s more likely a Gen 2 version, or some accessories will make the keyboard a better fit for me. In a weird twist, the more I use the iPad for productivity, the less suitable the Apple Magic Keyboard becomes.

For Sale: A Pair of Edisons & A Pair of Franklin-Christophs

I’m nearing the end of my fountain pen decluttering and it’s time to pass the final few onto better homes. These final four appeal to me, but my (lack of) usage history says they don’t cut it.

I purchased all the pens new and list the month I bought the pen just in case there were any changes during production that I’m unaware of. Boxes, paperwork, and converters are not included unless mentioned in the listing. These pens all have steel nibs.

Give me a firm I want it and I’ll reserve the pen for you and send a PayPal invoice. Contact me at ray[@]fpquest[dot]com or use the contact form here.

U.S shipping is $7.90 for USPS priority mail which includes insurance and signature confirmation.

International shipping has been a nightmare for me (and the recipient) thanks to the USPS east coast international mail terminal. I’ve had numerous issues with them and require insurance and tracking. There’s also a 3% surcharge on the international postage to partially cover the fees I can’t roll into the price of the pen but are significant.

Click photos for full-size images.

 

Four pens for sale #

Pens are listed in the same order as the photos (L->R).

Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Intrinsic (2nd Gen) (Medium Stub) – Amber-Orange & Cinnamaroon: Purchased in August 2015, this is the 2nd gen Intrinsic. I eyedropper filled this pen although there are no signs of ink stains. Excellent condition. No converter, box or paperwork. – $90 (SOLD)

Franklin-Christoph Model 03 Iterum (Extra Fine) – Smoke w/Maroon Cap Jewel w/Rhodium clip: Purchased in May 2014. Excellent condition. Includes converter. No box or paperwork. – $90 (SOLD)

Edison Collier (Extra FIne) – Antique Marble: Purchase March 2012. A large pen that does not post. Converter Included. No box or paperwork. – $90 (Withdrawn)

Edison Pearl 2012 Limited Edition (Extra Fine) – Black/Beige Swirl Ebonite: This was an FPN Group Buy in 2012. I purchased the pen as part of the group buy in May 2012. It’s number 8 of 79. The material is ebonite, No converter$90 (SOLD)

 

 

For Sale: A Mix of Past Favorites (All Sold)

These pens have all been sold.
Five Pens for Sale
I’ve decided to focus my accumulation around Sheaffers and a few other pens I use a lot. This means some past favorites have to go.

I purchased all the pens new and list the month I bought the pen just in case there were any changes during production that I’m unaware of. Boxes and paperwork are not included unless mentioned in the listing.

I’ve discounted the pens about $25-$50 initially in this post. I’ll be offering them elsewhere in a few days and will raise the prices at that time.

Give me a firm I want it and I’ll reserve the pen for you and send a PayPal invoice.

U.S shipping is $7.90 for USPS priority mail which includes insurance and signature confirmation.

International shipping has been a nightmare for me (and the recipient) thanks to the USPS east coast international mail terminal. I’ve had numerous issues with them and require you either take full responsibility for the shipment (no refund if lost) or pay for priority mail with insurance, both of which require a more detailed discussion.

And Now The Pens

 

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age, extra-fine 23kt Palladium “Dreamtouch” Nib. The nib was never a bad writer, but I did have it tuned at the 2016 DC Pen Show. I swapped the original cap jewel for the “Visconti My Pen System Stone: 5- Cornelian cap jewel”. The bronze has a bit of a patina and has never been polished. Other than that, the pen is in excellent shape. I purchased this pen in December 2015. At the time, there was only one size, so no size was specified but this is the larger of the various Homo Sapien sizes that have been around. I wrote about the pen here. I wrote numerous times about this pen, which can be found at this search results link. The pen is a vacuum filler. $325 + shipping. (SOLD)

Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand Fountain Pen, oblique-medium (OM) nib. This is a Montblanc factory nib, installed by Montblanc through their nib-swap program prior to shipping the pen to me in November 2016. A Piston filler with a 14K gold (ruthenium-coated) nib. The trim is also ruthenium-coated. Includes the box and “Service Guide” booklet. I wrote about the pen here. $425 + shipping. (SOLD)

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite, extra-fine 18K gold nib. This nib was sold by Pelikan as a factory extra-fine nib, but as sometimes happens with them, it was closer to a western medium. The nib was ground by Dan Smith to be a more traditional extra-fine nib at the 2016 DC Pen Show. The nib is rhodium-plated. I purchased the pen in March 2015. The pen is a piston filler and is in excellent condition. I reviewed the pen here $225 + shipping. (SOLD)

Pelikan M101N Special Edition (Lizard), extra-fine 14K rhodium-plated gold nib. This is the version released in 2012, not the original vintage version. I bought the pen in December 2013. The trim is palladium-plated. I reviewed the pen here $200 + shipping. (SOLD)

Aurora Optima Nero Perla, medium 14K gold nib. A translucent grey & silver flake pattern. A piston filler that features a “hidden reserve” of ink. The pen material is Cellulose Acetate which the company calls “Auroloide” and resembles vintage celluloid in look and feel. I purchased this pen in November 2016. It’s a piston filler and is in excellent condition. I wrote about the pen here $200 + shipping. (SOLD)

Also, see my previously offered fountain pens that are still available on the For Sale page. I recently reduced some of their prices.

 

For Sale – Vintage Esterbrooks (nibs optional)

The pens/nibs in this post are all either sold or withdrawn.

The vintage Esterbrooks are too thin and light for me to use comfortably for any extended writing on my part. Now that I have modern (and bigger) pens that can use my Esterbrook nibs it’s time to release my vintage Esterbrooks back into the wild.

There’s no boxes or paperwork included. Nibs are optional and available at an added cost. The pens are in excellent condition.

Shipping in the U.S. is $7.90 (small flat rate box) for as many pens as will fit in the box unless otherwise noted. Payment is via PayPal Goods & Services and ships only to addresses in the PayPal payment. Sorry, no international shipping for these pens. U.S. based forwarding services are OK as long as the address is in your PayPal payment.

Prices are firm, although multiple pen purchases won’t increase shipping costs as long as they fit in the box. Unlike my other recent sales, there’s no quantity discount for the Esterbrook pens.

The first firm “I want it” gets the pen and I’ll send a PayPal invoice, questions will not hold a pen. Contact me using the contact form on this page, or email me at ray[@]fpquest.com (remove the brackets).

These prices are for the pen only, no nib, no boxes. Nibs are optional and there’s a

selection below. All pens have been tested and are in excellent working condition, but any restoration would have been done in 2013 or earlier.

1. Esterbrook Model SJ in Dubonnet Red (aka Red), no nib, excellent conditions – $25.00 (SOLD)

The first firm “I want it” gets the pen, and I’ll send a PayPal invoice. Contact me using the contact form on this page, or email me at ray[@]fpquest.com (remove the brackets).

Some Vintage Parkers are still available for sale and I reduced their prices. I’ve also added a Conklin (Modern Crescent Filler) and a couple Pilot Vanishing Point Limited Editions to the For Sale Page.

 

Vintage Parkers For Sale

The pens in this post are no longer available.

As much as I like the celluloid used on these vintage Vacumatics, I haven’t been using the pens, so I’ll be keeping my favorite and passing the rest along to more appreciative homes.

There’s no boxes or paperwork included.

Shipping in the U.S. is $7.90 (small flat rate box) for as many pens as will fit in the box unless otherwise noted. Payment is via PayPal Goods & Services and ships only to addresses in the PayPal payment. Sorry, no international shipping for these pens. U.S. based forwarding services are OK as long as the U.S. address is in your PayPal payment.

Prices are firm, although multiple pen purchases won’t increase shipping costs as long as they fit in the box. Plus I’ll take 5% off the pen prices if you buy two or more at one time.

 

Parker 1939 Blue Diamond Vacumatic Maxima, Golden Pearl w/Gold Trim (14kt gold Fine nib)Celluloid varies, very worn in spots, vibrant in others. Gold trim. This was restored in 2013 and has seen little use since then. $90 plus shipping. (SOLD)

 

Parker 1945 Striped Duofold Senior, Red/Gray Striped w/Gold Trim (14kt gold V-Design nib)Good transparency although there is some ambling visible when held to the light. This was restored in 2013 and has seen little use since then. $150 plus shipping. (SOLD)

The following pen leaks and is sold “as-is”:

Parker 1928/1929 Duofold Senior, Duofold Orange w/Gold Trim. Dual Bands w/Flat Top (14kt gold fine nib)PEN LEAKS – sold as-is. The pen does take in ink and will write, but the ink leaks from around the nib making it messy and unusable. $90 plus shipping. (SOLD)