Review: Macally ICEKey keyboard

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by OldCorpse, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. OldCorpse macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2005
    compost heap
    I've been looking for an external keyboard to hook up to my 12" iBook to use in tandem with my 21" Dell Monitor. After reading reviews and looking at photos, specs and features, I settled on the Macally ICEKey for $39.00 from Amazon. I finally received it today, and I've been trying it out for a few hours.

    The keyboard hooks up with a USB, but will not work out of the box. You need to install drivers which come on a CD-ROM with the keyboard. There are two drivers for macs, OS 9 and OS X. The drivers are in a sit file which opens to a dmg. The dmg has an installer and an uninstaller in .pkg files. The installer is pretty straightforward, though it asks you your admin password. One negative is that it requires a restart of the computer. The .pdf manual and registration form also come on the CD-ROM.

    Once the drivers are installed and you've restarted (and the restart is really slow - like 3 minutes or so :( )), you can now plug in the keyboard and it's immediately recognized and you can start typing away.

    The keyboard comes with two USB ports on either side (one per side, two total) - so you can plug in your mouse directly into the keyboard and still have one left over... that way, you are not losing anything from having one port taken up on your computer, because you get it back (of course, it's all riding the same bus, so I guess it's not 100% getting back). I plugged in my generic PC laptop mouse (DYNEX model DX-OM20) into the keyboard and it's immediately recognized and active.

    The ICEKey keyboard is a full Apple Keyboard, though it does have one additional "blank" key next to the control key on the right side of the space bard - unkown function. I tested all they keys including the function keys F9, F10, F11, F12 for Expose and Dashboard, and it works as it should. The Eject button works on the media drive, all the arrow keys work, ditto for number keys, caplock, and a row of sound control keys. There are no keys for screen brightness control.

    Things I like: it's very nice looking (subjective :)), it's low profile, narrow, but surprisingly sturdy - doesn't feel rickety or fragile as I feared it might. The USB cord is long.

    Things I don't like: the key shape and action! I never thought I'd miss my iBook keys, but guess what. The iBook keys have a bit of a depression in them, whereas there is none in the ICEKey, and in fact the surface of the ICEkey keys are slightly smaller than the iBook keys! Worse: they advertise ICEKey as a laptop style scissor-action keys, but the reality is that they are hard to operate. You really have to exert pressure to get them to work - much harder than in the iBook... that's bad, quite bad. As a result, I type slower on this keyboard, and my fingers get tired quicker. Bummer. Of course, this may be a matter of taste to some - maybe you prefer a bit harder action keys. I was hoping for the opposite - I was hoping for softer keys will less travel than the iBook.

    Overall, despite many nice things, this keyboard is a failure for me. I regret buying it, because the one thing that's non-negotiable on a keyboard if you type a lot is the key action, and for me, this is worse on the ICEKey compared to my iBook (hard to believe any keyboard can be worse than the keyboard on the iBook!). Sadly, there is no way to test this online, so I took a chance - and it was a bust. The specs, features and looks are great and can be compared online, but key action... you take your chances.
  2. iMeowbot macrumors G3


    Aug 30, 2003
    I really like the amount of force the Icekey has. I ought to mention that the keys do loosen up a little bit after some use, but they don't ever really become a light touch.

    One neat feature (and the real reason for this post): Tonight, I managed to knock over a half-full cup of coffee and have the contents land on top of the Icekey. Damage: none! All it took was a gentle rinse with water and holding it vertically to drain, I didn't need to leave it to dry or open it up or any of those fun things. The liquid stayed outside. A late-model Apple desktop keyboard would have been destroyed by this.

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