Home Apple News & Review Satechi Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard with Numeric Keypad review: Good form, unreliable function

Satechi Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard with Numeric Keypad review: Good form, unreliable function

Satechi Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard with Numeric Keypad review | Macworld<!– –><!– –>

satechi aluminum bluetooth keyboard
Leif Johnson/IDG

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Products like the Satechi Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard grant us a peek at the Apple that could be—in this case, an Apple that remains enamored with space gray aluminum but also committed to keyboards with generous key travel. And the Satechi keyboard is a decent effort, weighty and pleasant for typing, and it lets you pair it with up to three different Bluetooth devices. Viewed from across the room, it readily looks like it spawned in the mind of Jony Ive.

Yet I never felt a strong connection to the Satechi keyboard, mainly because it always struggled to connect with my Mac.

Maybe we can see this as a reminder that an Apple logo really does translate into quality, but first it’s also important to keep in mind that the logo’s absence lets you pick up what essentially amounts to a passable cousin of the Apple Magic Keyboard 2 with a keypad for a mere $79.99. If that sounds expensive, remember that Apple sells its own space gray version for a stunning $149. You could almost buy two Satechi keyboards for that price.

satechi aluminum bluetooth keyboard magic keyboard Leif Johnson/IDG

Both the Apple Magic Keyboard 2.(top) the Satechi Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard have a caps lock light, but Satechi put its light in the upper-right corner where it’s less likely to be hidden by your fingers.

The Satechi’s 17-inch aluminum panel feels weighty and luxurious. At a little less than half an inch high, it sits about as far off my writing surfaces as the Magic Keyboard. Unlike Apple’s model, it’s also in both gold and rose gold along with the expected white and space gray variations. Battery life isn’t all that impressive—Satechi claims it’ll go through 80 hours of active use and 100 of inactive before it needs to be charged through its USB-C port—but after I left it in the office for almost two weeks over the holiday, I was pleased to find it greeted me with almost a full charge.

satechi aluminum bluetooth keyboard portsLeif Johnson/IDG

On the back, you’ll find a power slider that resembles Apple’s own and a USB-C charging port.

You’d be wrong to dismiss the Satechi as a cheap imitation of Apple’s keyboard. This keyboard is aimed at Apple fans who crave better typing experiences than what Apple offers as of late, and as such this board features longer key travel than you’ll find on the Magic Keyboard. There’s just enough resistance to capture that feeling of creating, something that gets lost on Apple’s nearly flat boards. The keys aren’t backlit, but I find I like the way Satechi carved a barely perceptible cup for each fingertip into the crown of each key. There’s also a playfulness to the keys’ rounded corners that I miss in Apple’s own work. I’d never call this one of the best Bluetooth keyboards I’ve ever typed on, but it’s a significant enough improvement over Apple’s keyboard that I increasingly found myself reaching for it when diving into long writing sessions.

satechi aluminum bluetooth keyboard keysLeif Johnson/IDG

It comes with the full range of shortcuts you’d expect from an Apple keyboard.

Connect three

The other big reason to buy Satechi’s keyboard over Apple’s is that it allows you to connect up to three different Bluetooth devices. Not everyone needs this feature, but I find it’s particularly well suited to my screwball workflow: Sometimes I’ll start a draft on my iPhone with a Bluetooth keyboard (where I’m less likely to get distracted with nitpicking each sentence in the drafting process) and then I’ll move over to the Mac to edit. With this keyboard, the means of input never changes.

I’d forgotten how liberating this can be. Apple’s own Magic Keyboards don’t allow you to pair with multiple devices; in fact, they resist all attempts to pair with an iPhone while they remain wedded to their parent Macs. The only way to divorce the two is to go into the Mac’s settings and “Forget” the keyboard, and that’s impossible if you’ve stuffed it in your bag for use with your iPad or iPhone over a long trip. With the Satechi, it’s just a matter of holding down a button.

satechi keyboard by magic keyboardLeif Johnson/IDG

Satechi’s keyboard (left) has a slightly more steeper incline than Apple’s Magic Keyboard. 

If only everything else worked so well. On tight deadlines, I’d end up shoving the Satechi aside in frustration when it refused to reawaken with a simple key press after a few minutes of rest. Holding down a random key for several seconds often sufficed to wake it up, but it wasn’t guaranteed. Worse, wiring it to the Mac doesn’t improve the responsiveness as the Satechi keyboard continues to work through Bluetooth even while charging.

  • Pros

    • Sleek design that looks like something Apple might have made
    • Connects up to three Bluetooth devices at once
    • More satisfying key travel than Apple’s own keyboards
    • Multiple color options

    Cons

    • Undependable Bluetooth connection, both for typing and reactivating