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Apple laptop keyboards: an ongoing disaster? (1 Viewer)

DaveF

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Ronald Epstein

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“Apple keep insisting that only a “small number of customers have problems” with the MacBook keyboards. That’s bollocks. This is a huge issue, it’s getting worse not better, and Apple is missing the forest for the trees.”

https://m.signalvnoise.com/the-macbook-keyboard-fiasco-is-surely-worse-than-apple-thinks/

How’s your keyboard fairing? Would you buy a new laptop with the butterfly keys?


Dave,

I didn't yet read that specific article you linked to and perhaps the situation has changed, but I think that the issue is only related to Macbooks, not the Pro line.

So, I am not having any issues at the moment.

That being said, I am not a huge fan of the butterfly keyboard. With all the complaints about it over the years, I am surprised Apple hasn't gone back to the standard one.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I’m using a ten year old MacBook Pro and I don’t know what I’ll do when it dies. None of the newer options are appealing to me, but I want to stay in the Mac OS universe.

I want what I have now: a sturdy 17” laptop with a good build, an optical drive and multiple connection options. I get that those things aren’t everyone’s priority, but I don’t understand why they can’t cater to those of who would like something more functional that’s still a Mac.
 

DaveF

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Dave,

I didn't yet read that specific article you linked to and perhaps the situation has changed, but I think that the issue is only related to Macbooks, not the Pro line.

So, I am not having any issues at the moment.

That being said, I am not a huge fan of the butterfly keyboard. With all the complaints about it over the years, I am surprised Apple hasn't gone back to the standard one.
Affects Macbook and MacBook Pro models alike.
https://www.cultofmac.com/562153/macbook-pro-keyboard-butterfly-2018-fix/
 

dpippel

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I've had my 15" MacBook Pro for 2 years now. Nary a problem with the keyboard or anything else for that matter. Knock on wood.
 

Ted Todorov

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I have the 2018, MacBook Pro - no keyboard issues. My wife has the original 2015 12” MacBook, where the butterflies got introduced. She (and I by extension) had multiple keyboard problems, which included twice getting repaired (not on site) after being taken in to an Apple Store genius. A couple of other times it was given the air spray quick fix treatment. It is about to go past the the four year Apple free repair for butterfly keyboard problems, so I am hoping it survives until Apple upgrades the 12” MacBooks to ARM CPUs, so I’ll have a good reason to replace it.

The 2018 MBPs keyboard have the new membrane that was supposed to prevent dust & breadcrumbs that are the main source for butterfly trouble, and I can certainly attest that the my current MBP has survived problem free much longer that the MB, which had its first Apple Store visit within a couple of months.

All that said, the one I actually chose to replace rather than repair, was my 2013 MacBook Pro. No keyboard issues, but had its screen replaced three times (for free) due to out layer loss. For time #4, I would have had to pay (maybe ~$550?) and I chose to buy a new one instead, to replace my by then 5 year old MBP. The point is, vulnerable parts with common failures are nothing new, but only sometimes they get the bad press. The good news is that Apple throwing in four years worth of free maintenance has been an acceptable solution
 

AndyMcKinney

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I’m using a ten year old MacBook Pro and I don’t know what I’ll do when it dies. None of the newer options are appealing to me, but I want to stay in the Mac OS universe.

I want what I have now: a sturdy 17” laptop with a good build, an optical drive and multiple connection options. I get that those things aren’t everyone’s priority, but I don’t understand why they can’t cater to those of who would like something more functional that’s still a Mac.

You're just like me. I'm still using a 2009 17" MPB. I hate that I'm stuck at El Capitan (not an issue for me now, but will likely be someday), but I prefer that to giving up my 17" screen, built-in optical and multiple USB ports you don't have to have an adapter dongle for.

I'm sure most of it's to do with their constant drive to get thinner and lighter, but, to me, there are other things far more important. Getting thinner each generation isn't everything.

So for now, I'll just continue to keep the money in my pocket or use it on other stuff.

When I got my 09 MBP, I was ticked-off about the keyboard on that. I much preferred the keys on the earlier generations (the pre-unibody ones).
 

Josh Steinberg

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I'm sure most of it's to do with their constant drive to get thinner and lighter, but, to me, there are other things far more important. Getting thinner each generation isn't everything.

For me, what it boils down to is that my iPhone has replaced so much of my "simple" computing, that the only thing I need an actual computer for are more intensive tasks. So when I go to actually sit at my computer, I'm either writing/posting an official HTF review, doing some video or photo editing, or copying/backing up content that is stored on physical media. That means that I want to have easy access to an optical drive, and that I want easy connectivity so that I can plug an external hard drive in without needing to utilize a series of adapters to make it all work.

It's great that Mac has made some very thin laptops, and I'm sure there are people who find that useful. But I don't see why one has to come at the expense of the other.
 

dpippel

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My solution is simple - I have a Thunderbolt 3 dock for my MBP with a 27" 5K monitor, an external HD, and few more peripherals attached, and a Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad. When I'm home, I connect my MBP to the dock with ONE cable, and I've got a full-blown desktop setup. When I need to be on the go, I have that same powerful laptop to take with me if I need it. If not, I take my iPad Pro. Easy-peasy. Best of both worlds IMO.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I imagine that works for most people.

My problem is, the whole reason a laptop is appealing is that I can take it on the go (whether around the house or on the road) and have all of those drives and connectivity options included. The idea of carrying a new laptop and external drives and connector cables, that all used to be part of the laptop itself, doesn’t hold much appeal to me.
 

dpippel

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Well, when laptops came standard with optical drives and VGA video outputs, they were bigger, bulkier, and heavier than today's ultrabook designs. Adding an external optical drive and a couple of cables probably brings a current MacBook Pro back to 2011, and without adding much if any more weight and bulk than you'd be carrying around with that older machine. If you're talking about JUST the laptop without a bag, then you certainly have a valid point.

As far as MB and MBP Thunderbolt 3 only machines go, one of these does the trick for connectivity, and it's tiny:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B074NXGWFX/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

Josh Steinberg

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If you're talking about JUST the laptop without a bag, then you certainly have a valid point.

Yeah, I miss the convenience and ease of that.

There was a point in time in my life where I could just throw the MacBook Pro into my backpack and go. Didn't even need a power cable since anywhere I was going would have had someone who had a power adapter. I miss those days.

I'm amazed at how little I use my computer these days. Between being on a computer all day at work, and having an iPhone with me at all times, there are just so few occasions where I need to pull my laptop out to do something. At this point, I'm either doing something completely low-tech like writing an HTF review, or something high tech like editing old family movies and burning them to DVD-Rs, and just about nothing in between.
 

Clinton McClure

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I would be ok without a built-in optical drive. My MacBook Pro has its original SuperDrive and I rarely use it anymore. Until Apple comes to its senses, I’ll keep using my 2012 MacBook Pro because a good keyboard far outweighs the 3 or 4 seconds I’ll save on boot if I were to buy a new model. If Apple happens to reverse course (very unlikely) and put a good keyboard back into the 15” MBP, I would buy one.
 

Thomas Newton

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I’ll keep using my 2012 MacBook Pro because a good keyboard far outweighs the 3 or 4 seconds I’ll save on boot if I were to buy a new model.

SATA SSDs have come down in price, and increased in capacity, a lot. You could perhaps replace your HDD with a SATA SSD for some "time to boot and launch application" gains.
 

Clinton McClure

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SATA SSDs have come down in price, and increased in capacity, a lot. You could perhaps replace your HDD with a SATA SSD for some "time to boot and launch application" gains.
I did that not long after purchasing my MBP. It might have been the following year. Regardless, it cold boots to the log in screen in under 10 seconds, then on to the desktop within a couple seconds of logging in.

I’ll use it as long as I can because I don’t like the butterfly keyboard.
 

DaveF

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Still FUBAR

Fueled by equal parts irrational hope I knew I shouldn’t trust and deep skepticism to which I should have listened, I bought the 2018 MacBook Air.

Sure enough, a couple months into owning this computer, the keys started to act up. As before, problems would come and go; the E or B key would be unresponsive for a day or so before whatever was jamming them up mysteriously went away.

The spacebar was the worst offender. For a long while it doubled spaces from a single keypress, but only sometimes. Finally, it seemed to get something lodged under it big or annoying enough that it couldn’t shake itself loose, and I had to pound it to get a space out of it; for two days, my sentencescame outlikethis. I made a Genius Bar appointment.
https://theoutline.com/post/7315/apple-keyboards-still-suck-insanely-bad?zd=1&zi=patimptt
 

Ted Todorov

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Of all the things, this is what depresses me the most (from the article you linked):
Does Apple sell canned air? No, she said; she recommended Best Buy or Staples.
Everything else I can up with excuses (not saying valid ones, but still). The fact that Apple doesn't pick out the best canned air and sell stat Apple Stores has no conceivable excuse. They don't even recommend a specific brand - what do they use?

The reason for me being upset is that in fact, there is an equally likely problem with iPhones - its Lightning/charger port stops charging because of lint from my Levi's jeans right front pocket that only ever contains my phone. This has happened once or more with every iPhone I've had for the last few years including twice now with my current iPhone XS. I last "fixed it" myself yesterday using Insignia Compressed-Air from Best Buy. (I put the fixed in scare quotes because my previous "fix" was about a week earlier. It happening regularly terrifies me about long vacations where we are not carrying our compressed air cans...and visiting places where they are not available. Nor are AirPower chargers as a backup feature...wait, those aren't available anywhere...

The only good news here is that my 2018 MacBook Pro (which I got shortly after its release) has not, yet, had any keyboard issues (but nothing will induce me to give you my 2013 MBP as an emergency backup)
 

DaveF

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Without diminishing your experience, I don't think lint in iPhone lightning ports is a common problem, as it's not discussed or reported or ranted about online. If it was damaging iPhones they way failing keyboards are plaguing the laptops, I'd see in in the tech news and blogs. But I believe you've had the problems you've had. I destroy my iPhone and iPad in a single weekend using an apparently damaged lightning cable. That was a $600 cable failure, back in 2017. (sigh)

I agree with the sad irony: if Apple is formally recommending compressed air as a fix, they should sell it. Maybe it could be a standard recommended add-on when you're shopping: With your MacBook Air, would you also like AppleCare? How about AppleAir? :)
 

DaveF

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I'm glad I'm not a laptop user currently. I don't know what I'd get. I'd be worried about getting a new Mac laptop.

And I will no longer be recommending Apple laptops to friends or family who might ask. For that matter, one friend (a "cloud" architect developer) bought and returned the (then new) 2016 MBP because of touch bar. That plus new keyboard made it unacceptable for him as a professional coder.
 

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