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Might sound like a subjective question, but it doesn't have to be:

  1. How does the keyboard keypress-action (the feel of the keyboard) differ between all model-years of MacBooks (the entire line including MBP's and MBA's)?
  2. In 2008, the MacBook line lost any option for a traditional-style keyboard in favor of the new "chicklet" style. Which post-chicklet models have a keyboard feel most similar to the keyboard of the pre-2008 MacBook Pro?
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5 Answers

None, to be frank. They all feel approximately the same in my opinion - the MacBook white 2010 has a lighter feel than the Pro or Air which to my senses are pretty much the same.

Both the current models and the now out of production white macbook have the same keyboard, to all intents and purposes, apart from the air and pro have a backlit keyboard which possibly leads to a heavier key press - although that might just be because my white machine is older and slightly more worn.

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I think it is a subjective question but there's nothing wrong with that. We all have different experience and sensitivities to keyboards and in my opinion, those of us who touch type probably have the most sensitivity to small changes in hardware.

I touch type and have been using computer keyboards of various types for over 30 years. I've used every Macintosh keyboard that has ever been up to this point and I've never found one that I couldn't get used to in time including my current one which is on a one year old MacBook Pro.

Initially I didn't like the look of the chicklet style keyboards but they're fine and I don't notice any accuracy or speed issues with them.

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one thing to consider is the keyboard angle.

the macbook air keyboard sits lower to the desk & has a slight angle

vs macbook pro is flat. the edge of the computer is a little sharper on hands/wrists with a sharper edge - more noticeable while using the trackpad

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Good point. I use a stand under my MBP but with the angle reversed so that the keypad slopes away from me, allowing my wrists to remain flatter. –  Richard Jan 29 '12 at 0:27
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Having owned a 2008 MacBook (Aluminum), 2010 MacBook Pro and 2011 MacBook Air, I can safely say the way each key press feels is consistent across the line - and extend the same experience to the latest Wired/Wireless Apple keyboards (with exception of the sounds they make)

The only key press action that feels different is the smaller Function keys that are found on a MacBook Air.

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The aluminum external keyboards have a completely different feel in my opinion. Pressing the keys requires more force, the keys have a higher profile, they're flat instead of concave, and the surfaces don't feel as smooth. –  Lauri Ranta Jan 24 '13 at 18:49
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None of the newer keyboards have the soft touch of the old-fashioned MBP keyboards, frankly. Here's a summary of differences that I can remember:

Old Pro keyboard vs new 'chicklet' keyboards

  • The "old fashioned" pro keyboard of the 2007 15" MBP has no empty space in-between the keys.
  • Whereas the new keys are merely flat, the old keys were "hollow".
  • The pressure point is lower, thus pressing the keys is 'softer' or 'easier'. (old keyboard)
  • If my memory is correct, the old keyboard was also a quieter, but over all every mobile keyboard Apple has made has been very quiet. So this is not an issue.

Since all of the unibody (retina) Macbook Pros/Airs now have the same keyboard design, the typing experience is fairly similar. Other factors become more relevant when judging the subjective experience:

  • tilted typing angle (Airs)
  • larger palm rest area (15" Pro).
  • cold surface due to more efficient chipsets

I have worked with a 2007 15" MBP, 2007 13" Macbook, 2011 15" MBP and 2012 13" MBA.

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