If you’re looking for a Mac-styled keyboard but you’re not a fan of Apple’s own, Moshi’s Celesta is a stylish and functional alternative, albeit one that doesn’t offer as many special keys or as much customization as some other keyboards we’ve tested.
If Apple made a pro keyboard
Apple’s current Keyboard is essentially a MacBook keyboard in a full-size, aluminum-and-plastic package. The Celesta takes a similar approach, but one that’s better in nearly every way. The top surface is a single piece of black or white diamond-cut aluminum; the brushed-metal surface is stylish, but unlike Logitech’s diNovo Edge Mac Edition (), it’s also resistant to smudges and fingerprints. The top edge of the keyboard is made of a clear, glossy plastic with the Moshi logo and three indicators etched into the back; lights along the top of the keyboard illuminate these etched areas—white for the Moshi logo and either red or blue, depending on the keyboard color, for the others. (Only one of the indicators, for caps lock, works with the Mac.)
The keyboard body is just over an eighth of an inch thick along the front edge and approximately 1.25 inches thick at the rear; the keys themselves range from a height of a quarter inch (the bottom row) to an inch (the top row) off your desk. The thin profile and low angle of incline make the Celesta comfortable to use and, assuming your desk is set up properly, relatively ergonomically sound. If your desk configuration requires a higher angle, a pop-out leg that runs the width of the keyboard lets you raise the rear nearly five-eighths of an inch.
The Celesta is available in two color combinations: black with red key labels and red indicator lights, or white with gray key labels and blue indicator lights. I tested the black model and found it to be attractive and well built—it felt like it would stand up to a considerable amount of abuse. However, I found the red-on-black lettering to be difficult to read, especially in dim light; white key labels would have been much more visible.
The Celesta connects to your Mac via USB and provides two USB 2.0 ports on the right-hand side of the keyboard. Like most keyboard-hosted USB ports, these are bus-powered, so they’re designed for input devices, photo-card readers, and other low-power devices; you won’t be able to connect a USB hard drive or other high-power USB device. Moshi also includes a microfiber dust cover to place on top of the keyboard when not in use
Getting the basics right
Like a number of recent desktop keyboards, the Celesta uses laptop-style scissor-switch keys, rather than the dome-style key switches traditionally found in desktop keyboards. In addition to allowing the Celesta to keep a low profile, laptop-style keys tend to require less force and less travel—the distance you have to press a key for it to register—than dome keys. And as scissor keys go, the Celesta’s are very good. They’re easy to press, yet each provides obvious tactile feedback when it has been adequately depressed.
The Celesta features the full complement of standard keys, including a numeric keypad, 15 function keys (F-keys), directional-arrow keys, and the traditional home/end/page up/page down/help/delete group. The function keys are properly arranged in groups of four and separated from the main QWERTY area, making them easier to locate when touch-typing. And with a couple exceptions, noted below, all keys are positioned in their proper locations.
Like several other keyboards we’ve tested recently, the Celesta is cross-platform; however, unlike the others, the Celesta appears to have been designed for the Mac first. The option and command keys are labeled as such, with only a small “alt” label on the option key indicating Windows compatibility, and both keys are properly placed. In fact, the only obvious Windows features on the keyboard are the F13, F14, and F15 keys, located above the help/home/page up group; these function keys don’t officially work on the Mac, instead serving as print screen, scroll lock, and pause keys, respectively, when used with a Windows computer (or, of course, with a Mac running Windows). Unofficially, as with some other cross-platform keyboards, F14 and F15 adjust brightness when used with a Mac laptop or a Mac with an Apple Cinema Display.
Although the Celesta doesn’t provide many special-function keys—the one area in which Apple’s wired Keyboard betters it—it does include dedicated volume up, volume down, mute, and eject keys, all of which work on the Mac without the need for third-party drivers. However, the placement of these keys is my biggest complaint about the Celesta. The volume down, volume up, and eject keys are placed above the inverted-T group of arrow keys and below the delete/end/page down group, a non-standard location that, by merging these three groups into a single large block, makes the individual keys in that block more difficult for touch typists to locate. Similarly, the mute key is oddly located between the right-hand option and control keys; I often muted my Mac’s volume when trying to press option or control.
Macworld’s buying advice
The Celesta is expensive for a keyboard that doesn’t offer many special keys or much programmability, but it’s among the most attractive and well-built keyboards I’ve tested. Although it has a few minor layout oddities, overall it gets the basics right, and its keys feel very good while typing. If you appreciate good design and you spend a lot of time typing, the Celesta is worth considering.
[Dan Frakes is a Macworld senior editor.]
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