Category Archives: Review

Review: Satechi Slim X1 Bluetooth Backlit Keyboard

What it is

  • It’s a wireless (Bluetooth) keyboard.
  • It’s a “compact” design, meaning that it’s smaller than a standard keyboard you might get with your computer. It doesn’t have a keypad or separate home/end/pg up/pg down keys.
  • It has LED backlighting under the keys so you can read it in the dark.

Why I needed this

When I don’t need all the power/options/monitors of my desktop for computering, I like to use an iPad with a keyboard. It’s my favorite way to work, because you can move the keyboard and screen however you want, or wherever you are comfortable.1

Is this product good/would I recommend it?

Yes, and yes.

…If you are using Apple products. I have not tested this on Winders or Linux.

Short list of why it’s good

  • It’s good to type on (for a chiclet keyboard). Despite the compact overall size, the keys are a good size, and nicely spaced.
  • The key action is pretty good: firm enough that you can tell you pressed a key and keys don’t press by accident, soft enough that you don’t end up hammering things.
  • It has all the function keys you need—and a few that you might want—for Apple stuff.
  • It can connect to—and swap between—up to three Bluetooth devices just by using keystrokes. You do not have to disconnect this from say, your Mac before you can use it with your iPad.

Inevitable comparisons to the incumbent

If you are looking for a wireless keyboard for your Apple device, the first thing you are going to see is the Apple Magic keyboard. I have one. It’s pretty good, and I have used it a bunch. Here’s how the Satechi compares to the Apple Magic Keyboard.

The Satechi X1 is very slightly bigger

The Satechi Slim X1 is 2mm wider than the Apple Magic Keyboard, and weighs a bit more (10.25oz vs 8.20oz on my cheap kitchen scale). The Magic keyboard is also about two hairs thinner.2

The Satechi X1 has a better key layout.

On the Magic keyboard, all the keys are the same size—including the function keys along the top row. You don’t use those keys very much, and when you do, you probably don’t touch type them—you look for the key/function you want, and then poke it.

On the X1, the top row of function keys are about half as tall as the other keys. This allows them to make all the other keys—the keys you use all the time—a bit bigger than they are on the Magic Keyboard. This makes the X1 much better to type on. It also explains that extra 2mm in width.

The Satechi X1 is backlit, so you can use it in the dark.

You can ALSO use it in the light! The Magic Keyboard is not backlit, so you can use it in the light, but you have to be a pretty confident touch-typist to use it at night.

And no, the light from an iPad screen will NOT illuminate a Magic Keyboard very well in a dark room, even if you hold it right over the keyboard so that you can no longer read the screen. 3

The Satechi X1 is easier to touch-type on.

The nubs on the F and J keys on are easier to feel, on the X1 than on the Magic keyboard. which makes it a lot easier to touch-type on the X1 without one hand or the other seidring odd homw eoq drifting off home row. This is a tiny detail, but it can be a huge time-wasting annoyance.

You can pair the Satechi X1 with up to three devices

You can also easily switch to whichever of those three devices you want to use by pressing a simple, well-labelled key combination.

The Apple Magic Keyboard only pairs with one device at a time, so you have to disconnect/connect it if you switch between devices. 4

I’ve also found that the X1 actually connects to my iPad more quickly and reliably than the Magic Keyboard. Sometimes, the Magic keyboard will not wake my older iPad Pro—I have to tap the Home button in order to wake it, and then the Magic keyboard continues to work just fine.

This might be specific to my model of iPad, specific Magic keyboard, barometric pressure and shampoo choice, but I have never had the same problem with the X1.

Conclusion

I bought the X1 a few months ago and continue to use both it and the Apple Magic keyboard daily. Either keyboard is just fine, but the Satechi X1 is preferable in every way that matters to me.

I would recommend the X1 whether the Apple Magic keyboard existed or not. It’s a well-designed, well-made thing.

At time of wrtiting, the Satechi X1 Slim Bluetooth Backlit Keyboard is listed at $69.95 (US) on the Satechi site. The Apple Magic Keyboard is listed at $99.95 (US) on the Apple site.


1 It’s what using a laptop (or Apple Smart Keyboard+iPad Pro) would be like if they were designed to be used by people.

2 If you are an Apple design engineer, you can stop reading here, and do your happy dance. Your device is physically smaller and lighter than this device. That’s your job done!

3 Honestly, the Magic Keyboard is not great to read in bright light either. On the upside, they DID pull that “thin typeface in light-grey on glaring white” aesthetic right through the hardware AND on-screen UI. And who are we to judge? This is personal computing UX, where it’s perfectly normal that one person’s “unflagging dedication to the design concept” is another few millions’ “uncomfortable, less-useful interface.”

4 It’s worth noting that Satechi, who make money selling keyboards, thought it would be good to be able to connect a keyboard to three devices. Apple, who make money selling keyboards AND those three devices, did not.