There is something notably absent when you purchase any Apple computing product. Whether it is a Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro or Mac Mini - they all lack the inclusion of a proper keyboard with a 10-key pad. But, to make matters worse, Apple does not even make or sell a wireless 10-key pad.
Luckily, NewerTech has recognized the opportunity and filled the gap in Apple's portfolio with the 'Wireless Aluminum Keypad'. While there are plenty of wireless 10-key solutions available, NewerTech has created something that could be part of Apple's official accessory line. The Wireless Aluminum Keypad has been carefully crafted to match Apple's design aesthetic and while the NewerTech Wireless Aluminum Keypad looks the part, does it live up to the quality of Apple?
The design of the Wireless Aluminum Keypad is probably one of the most important aspects of this product. Since 2011, Apple has transitioned from using plastics in the majority of its products to embracing metal. In 2015, all of Apple's computing products with the exception of the Mac Pro, share a similar design and aesthetic. In order to create something unique, NewerTech has done their best to try and create a product that will compliment your existing Apple products.
The NewerTech Wireless Aluminum Keypad has an excellent design, looking the part of an Apple computing product. The materials and colors are accurate and duplicate Apple's keyboards that are available on their desktop and laptop products.The design retains the simplicity and elegance known in Apple products and carefully mimics this.
NewerTech has also added a plastic bracket that will allow users to attach the wireless 10-key pad to an existing Apple wireless keyboard to create one solid unit. The keypad sits at an angle providing an ergonomic tilt, making it more comfortable to use. The keypad comes in two colors options, which change the color of the keys to either white or black, while the chassis remains aluminum in both options.
As far as quality, the Wireless Aluminum Keypad feels good. The aluminum chassis is flawless in construction and feels comfortable during use. When compared to an official Apple keyboard, the color of the unit is slightly off. But, this is only noticeable if you are scrutinizing the product and comparing it side by side.
Although the chassis of the keypad is fairly high quality, the keys definitely leave something to be desired. While the they feel comparable to their Apple counterparts, they do seem a bit firmer. The keys are also much "clickier", emitting an audible clicking when in use. The good thing is that none of these create issue during use.
Perhaps, the only issue that I saw with the keypad was that the keys were not all aligned properly. Some of the keys were angled or raised depending on their location. You can see an example of this in the image above if you focus on the end, page down, and the function keys towards the top. While this didn't affect typing, it was noticeable and would be something to improve in the manufacturing process. While this could be just an isolated incident, it does detract from some of the aesthetics of the keyboard.
Lastly, unlike Apple's wireless keyboard and trackpads, the unit uses 2 AAA batteries for power instead of the usual AA. I thought that maybe this would impact the battery life, but this unit lasted well over a month without having to replace the batteries. This would make the Wireless Aluminum Keypad's battery life seem on par with my other wireless keyboards and mice.
Naturally, pairing the device is simple, only requiring you to hold down the power button. This action will illuminate the "=" button in blue and continue flashing until it is paired. Once connected the flashing will cease and you will be able to use the wireless key pad.
While this is an Apple focused device, the key pad works flawlessly with PC's as well. The only thing that I could suggest is that after pairing your device, make sure to hit the Fn and "tab/clear" button to activate the number pad on the device. If this is not done, the pad will be set to function with the arrow macros on the keypad.
Overall, the design and materials are high quality. The experience using the keypad on both Windows and OSX were flawless. Naturally, someone that uses this for professional use might appreciate a pad that has more key travel. But, for everyday use, I think this pad works great. The NewerTech Aluminum Keypad is priced at $47 MSRP and is available directly from OWC.
While it is a fairly unique item, realistically there are a lot of different and less expensive options when it comes to 10-key pads. Of course, the quality might not be the same with other units, but this will definitely be up to the consumer if this is worth adding to their collection.
I think what it comes down to is, the necessity to maintain the aesthetics of your products to create a cohesive design element. Those that own a PC will easily be able to dismiss this product for something less expensive and just as functional. But, an Apple enthusiast might not be able to make the same decision.