Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro: 30-days later

This was supposed to be written exactly 30-days after the fact, but life happens and I’ve been stuck in a fog as of late. Nonetheless, I’ve had 30-days to spend with the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, and not too much has changed from my initial impressions. For those reasons, this is going to be a bit more succinct than my first post.

Back to the weight

When the Magic Keyboard arrived, I was switching between using my iPad Pro in a Satechi stand on my desk and the Smart Keyboard Folio. Needless to say, I was living the “lightweight” iPad lifestyle, but it all changed with the Magic Keyboard. Yes, it’s heavier than the Smart Keyboard Folio, and it’s almost like carrying a laptop around, but that’s perfectly.

The combination of the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Magic Keyboard are still lighter than my 15-inch 2019 MacBook Pro. This makes me want to grab the iPad **first** if I need to go anywhere, instead of unplugging my laptop. In my mind, that’s exactly what Apple wants. The iPad is to be the first product (outside of your iPhone) for you to grab when it’s time to get some work done, or even if you want to kick back and watch some videos.

Trackpad and keys

As for the actual interaction and typing experience? This keyboard is amazing to type on. I have the Logitech MX Keys and (briefly) had the Extended Magic Keyboard to use with my MBP, and this keyboard is better than both of them. I’m not sure what it is, but Apple struck a balance for me between being tactile and still soft enough that it doesn’t feel like “work” to press each key.

Comfort ability is king when it comes to long typing sessions, and the Magic Keyboard certainly excels. If I could have this exact keyboard for all of my current and future computers, I would buy as many keyboard as I needed so that I would never have to be without one. That may seem a bit over dramatic, but that’s how excited I am to use this keyboard.

Moving to the trackpad, I have to admit that it is a bit small for my tastes. But that’s not exactly a bad thing, as it’s easy for me to move my pointer finger down, move the cursor, and keep typing. Gestures requiring more than two fingers definitely feel a bit cramped, especially for someone who has big hands like me, but the job still gets done.

Maybe if the palm rest was a bit bigger, then I would have more to gripe about here, but it’s still a good trackpad. Hell, it’s better than just about any Windows-based trackpad I’ve ever used, except maybe the Surface Pro 7.

What’s driving me insane

There are two points of contention with the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, both of which have been covered elsewhere. The first of these is the fact that this keyboard is an absolute fingerprint, dust, dirt, everything-magnet. It’s extremely frustrating to see my $350 keyboard folio case get so dirty so quickly.

I may just have to go down the Chris Lawley route and throw a bunch of stickers on this bad boy. But then it’s a matter of feeling bad for “personalizing” the case or just dealing with the smudges all of the time. I do have a few sticker packs lying around and a few more in my Amazon Wish List. Maybe it’s time to just pull the trigger.

The second issue that I have has to do with the Apple Pencil and I don’t know why it bothered me until now. For whatever reason, I feel like the Pencil moves quite a bit more when I’m carrying around the iPad with the Magic Keyboard attached. I’ve been holding everything in one hand and then going to put the iPad Pro down makes me accidentally release the Pencil from its magnets.

This also happens when putting the whole ensemble in either my Waterfield Designs backpack, or Incase Icon bag. Maybe I’m just using it wrong, but that doesn’t change my frustration and wish for there to be a dedicated slot in the hinge of the Magic Keyboard. See this Reddit post for what I mean.

The final verdict?

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Amazon’s return window was extended and I decided that it was time to stick to my guns and stick with the Magic Keyboard. That meant that the trusty Smart Keyboard Folio was going back, and I don’t have any regrets.

Surprisingly, the best part of using the Magic Keyboard is that I have actually been using it as a tablet more instead of leaving it “docked”. Whether it’s to sit back and do my weekly review, or catch up on some RSS feeds, the iPad Pro is more useful than ever. But I still want an 11-inch Pro as a couch device.


Microsoft Surface Earbuds Impressions: This ain’t it chief

Over the last few weeks, I have been excited to get the chance to try out the new Pixel Buds 2 and have been pleasantly surprised with my experience so far. Then, Microsoft decided to drop its new lineup of Surface products, including the new Surface Go, Surface Laptop 3, Surface Headphones 2, and Surface Earbuds. Yeah, Microsoft has a lot going on as of late.

Naturally, I skipped all the other releases and put in my pre-order for the Surface Earbuds. When they were initially announced last year, I was excited, despite the odd “gauge-looking” design that Microsoft opted for. In my mind, there are only so many designs for truly wireless headphones, so I was willing to give the Earbuds the benefit of the doubt.

The box finally arrived on my doorstep, and then I proceeded to take them out to just juice them up before actually trying them. Once they hit 100%, I took them out and put them in my ears and it was jarring. I’m not sure if it’s because my ear shape is whacky or what, but these style headphones just don’t really work with my ears.

Instant regret

I am constantly worried that they are going to fall out, even when following the instructions provided both in the packaging and the app. That’s a nice addition as it gives you a tutorial of how to use the gestures, and some EQ controls. And considering the EQ settings are nowhere to be found with the Pixel Buds 2, Microsoft’s decision to add them is nice.

Back to the fit though. I know these aren’t designed to be smushed into your ear canal as far as you can get them, as is the case with other earbuds. The flat design provides “four anchor points”, according to Microsoft’s landing page for these. This, paired with the silicone ear tips aim to keep the Earbuds in your ear and not on the floor.

But no matter what ear tip I tried (Microsoft gives you three sizes to pick from), I just never felt like the Earbuds were secure. Maybe that’s the point because Microsoft is attempting to do something different in an already-saturated market. It’s just not my style.

Actual usage

I must say that right after putting the Earbuds in and starting up some music, the sound is pretty good. Unfortunately, there’s no noise cancellation on board, so there’s definitely some noticeable sound bleeding. That’s rough for someone who has the need to shut out the outside world from time to time, but they’ll be just fine over time.

By no means do I find myself to be an audiophile, but I have been able to tell a difference between these and the AirPods/Pixel Buds. They just don’t sound great. Regardless of the aforementioned EQ settings, my music still just sounds muffled. And that problem is compounded by the little bits of “outside” noise that can leak in.

It’s just frustrating. And this goes back to maybe just being my odd ears, but I started feeling some ear fatigue after 20-30 minutes of playback. That’s just not going to get the job done.

Microsoft aesthetics

From an aesthetics standpoint, these are absolutely gorgeous to look at and take pictures of. The case is sleek, despite having a glossy and plasticky look and feel. The pairing button is found on the bottom, with the USB-C charging port placed on the back.

The earbuds themselves actually look pretty cool, and they fit in perfectly with the new design aesthetic that Microsoft has moved to with its Surface line. One issue that I have with the case design is that the top flap is light and feels flimsy.

While you get a nice “click” when closing the case, it’s not something that would be recommended for those who tend to fidget with the lids. It feels as though I would have to be super careful, only to open my computer bag one day and see the lid popped off from the rest of the case, adding to my frustrations.

What’s the verdict?

As much as I wanted to add the Surface Earbuds to my arsenal of headphones, these just aren’t it. Having to force myself to use these and put them through their paces is just not an experience I want, because it means that they will just collect dust until they get misplaced or lost. I’ll be hitting up Microsoft for the return label since stores are still closed.

In the meantime, I’ll be sticking with my AirPods Pro and the Pixel Buds 2. And my excitement for the Pro may continue to grow after Comply finally ships the new foam ear tips that were put up for pre-order a couple of weeks ago.