When Apple released a new keyboard, mouse, and trackpad, I decided to invest in the keyboard (and mouse, but that’s not relevant to today’s tale). I used a Logitech wireless solar keyboard, which worked well enough. However, it’s a very wide keyboard, making for an extended reach to my pointing device, and it requires a USB dongle to function. The new Apple keyboard uses Bluetooth, and while not solar powered, has a long-lasting battery that recharges quickly via a Lightning cable. As it lacks a numeric keypad, it’s also much narrower than the Logitech keyboard, putting my pointing device much closer to my hand. Less hand movement is a good thing.
After using the keyboard for a bit, I was hooked: I loved the battery life and the key feel. But I found I did miss the numeric keypad. Not all the time, but when entering data in a spreadsheet or posting receipts to Quicken, I felt hobbled by having to tap out numbers from the top row of the keyboard.
In search of a solution, I found the $35 Satechi Bluetooth Wireless Smart Keypad, a Bluetooth 4 numeric keypad. The keypad is primarily plastic (but feels solidly built), painted a shade of silver that comes close to matching the silver on the Apple Keyboard and original Magic Trackpad—it looks completely at home sitting between the two. (It matched the original Apple keyboard even better, as it uses the same rounded-top area for battery storage.)
The keypad runs on two AAA batteries, and removing the battery cover was the hardest part of setup; I had to use a flathead screwdriver to pop it open. Once powered up, the keypad quickly paired with my Mac and I once again had a ten-key keypad.
The keypad has a standard ten-key layout, with a nice large Enter button and a backspace button above that. A battery indicator light will blink when the batteries get low. At the top of the keypad are two rows of smaller buttons that control memory, rounding, and other such functions.
The last two buttons in those rows control a unique feature of this keypad: it’s also a 12-digit calculator. Press Mode to toggle between Calculator and Keypad; in Calculator mode, the keypad doesn’t talk to your Mac, it just acts like a calculator. When in this mode, however, pressing the Send button will send whatever’s on the calculator’s screen to your Mac. (Your Mac must be in an application that can accept text, as that’s how the data is sent.)
The back of the keypad has an on/off switch, pair and reset buttons, and a Mac/PC switch. Because the keypad auto powers down after non-use, I don’t even bother with the on/off switch; I just leave it on. When I need it, I press the Wake button, and it quickly pairs to my Mac. I find the key feel solid—not quite as solid as the new Apple keyboard, but more than good enough for ten-key work. It doesn’t slide around on my desk, even when I’m entering a long stream of numbers into a spreadsheet app.
The Satechi Bluetooth Wireless Smart Keypad is the perfect solution to my occasional need for a numeric keypad; I keep it under the iMac when not in use and place it between the keyboard and trackpad when I need to use it. When done, it goes to sleep on its own, and I move it back out of the way. If you’re a ten-key typist and miss having a numeric keypad on your keyboard, the Satechi Keypad is worth a look.