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  • Lululook iPad mini 6 Magnetic Keyboard Case review: Tough typing can't be offset by miniat...

    Wesley Hilliard said:
    it is fundamentally, objectively bad at being a keyboard. There isn't even a wired option. Lol.
    This comment suggests perhaps a lack of familiarity with the “iPad keyboard case” market in which this product is competing. Very few iPad keyboard cases allow for a wired connection, except the small handful which connect to some iPads’ Smart Connector (which the iPad Mini 6 sadly lacks.)

    Brydge for example is objectively the #1 or #2 best third party iPad keyboard case brand, and I believe nearly all of their bluetooth keyboard cases also lack the ability to connect via USB. It’s simply not a common feature in this product category. 

    The article’s suggestion that instead of an iPad-mini sized keyboard case we carry a compact mechanical keyboard, reflects perhaps a somewhat outlier set of priorities on the author’s part. Most average consumers interested in this type of product will not be mechanical keyboard enthusiasts looking for a desktop-class typing experience on a tiny iPad.

    Instead what this product offers is a combination of protective case, decent physical keyboard with a pretty standard key layout, and notably a trackpad, all in a laptop-style form factor the size of the iPad Mini. That is an extremely rare combination of features on the market, and so anyone like me looking for those particular features will be very happy to hear about this product. 

    Anyone like the author who prizes a mechanical keyboard typing experience with a separate wired USB keyboard, rather than a mini-laptop style keyboard case with trackpad, is happily already well served by the many wired USB keyboards available on the market. 

    I agree with the criticism that the rating score is unfairly low, given that this is probably the best iPad Mini-sized product of its kind available on the market today. And I also do see how the article does make fair points and aims for some balance, and it offered enough information to get me personally excited about the product despite the author’s personal distaste for it. 

    It’s great to see coverage of this type of product on AppleInsider as there are very few places to find reviews like this of iPad Mini keyboard cases. Hopefully this feedback can be taken as constructive criticism for future product reviews, which I do look forward to reading.

    Instead of judging this product against all keyboards in existence, next time it would be more fair to judge it against other iPad Mini 6 keyboard cases. It’s like rating a gluten-free pizza poorly because there are better tasting regular pizzas in the world. That’s not helpful for a celiac who can’t eat a pizza that isn’t gluten-free. A gluten-free pizza should probably be judged mainly against other gluten-free pizzas, as that is the likely range of options being considered by a reader looking for gluten-free food. 

    For an iPad Mini 6 owner who really wants a matching mini keyboard case with a trackpad, the fact that there are wired desktop keyboards better for extended typing sessions is really not relevant at all. The fact that it seems to offer perhaps the best design of any iPad Mini 6 keyboard case available is probably its most notable quality. As well as its low price, looking at Amazon I found 3 or 4 other Chinese brand names selling versions of this keyboard, but they were all in the $70-80 range. Lululook’s current sale price is quite a bargain in comparison! Thank you again for bringing it to our attention. 
  • Lululook iPad mini 6 Magnetic Keyboard Case review: Tough typing can't be offset by miniat...

    Thanks for making us aware of this product! It sounds like the author is not in the niche club of iPad Mini owners desperate for something, anything that resembles this. As the price is currently only $56 with STUDY15 promo code on Lululook's site, I just ordered myself a Gray one to go with my iPad Mini 6 in Starlight. (the keyboard comes in gray or black.)

    This looks to be the same keyboard under a different brand name that YouTuber "VeryLastDollar" called "The BEST PREMIUM iPad Mini 6 Keyboard Case" and "The Must Have Keyboard Case For Any iPad Mini 6" which he reviewed at $80. Yes the video is goofy but he's one of the only people I've found that reviews and compares the various mediocre iPad Mini 6 keyboards that are available on the market. He raves about this keyboard and trackpad compared to the other options available. 

    I got the Brydge Mini 7.9" keyboard for my previous-gen iPad Mini and I LOVE that size device for a tiny travel laptop. Having a physical keyboard makes the on-screen keyboard disappear, making the screen real estate feel twice as large in some instances. But one of the big drawbacks of the Brydge was the clamps that pinch the bezels to stay mounted to the iPad. When folding the iPad + keyboard combo shut, pressing on the top rear of the iPad (as one normally closes a laptop) caused the iPad to flex in the Brydge's clamps, so the clamps put undue force on the front of the iPad as it folds down. You can see the screen change colors frighteningly from the pressure points of the hinge clamps. The best solution I found was to flip it over so the iPad itself rests on the table and the keyboard is up in the air, and then press on the back of the keyboard to fold it down against the iPad. Not ideal and hard to get in the habit of remembering to do it this way. 

    In comparison the magnetic attachment of this Lululook keyboard looks like it will be far more gentle to my new iPad Mini. And a trackpad, so exciting! Unlike the author, I'm not a writer, and so I expect to use the trackpad for web browsing a lot more often than the keyboard. And it will hopefully be a nice travel combo that I can also use to hold the iPad screen in various positions for watching videos etc.

    Before the iPad Mini 6 was even available for sale, I wrote Brydge immediately after the Mini 6 was announced, begging them to produce a keyboard with trackpad like this for the new iPad Mini. Over a year later, the old Brydge Mini 7.9" keyboard is discontinued and it's still crickets from them if they'll ever release a new Mini keyboard option, let alone with a trackpad. This Lululook keyboard's nice magnetic cradle solves the old Brydge's hinge pinch problem, and the USB-C charging port is an improvement on the Brydge's micro-USB port as well. I'm not expecting it to be as good as the iPad Magic Keyboard, but I've given up hope anything that good will ever exist for the iPad Mini 6. For about 1/5th the price of a Magic Keyboard, I'm hoping this little keyboard case will be a decent travel companion for my iPad Mini in situations when a full size laptop is too big and too valuable to carry.

  • Sonnet introduces McFiver PCIe card with 10-gig ethernet, USB-C, SSD slots

    Wow, this would have been a dream card for my Mac Pro 5,1s four years ago when I was still putting money into them. I currently have all 3 of those cards filling up all my PCIe slots - 10GbE, USB 3.2, NVMe. Although the Sonnet’s x8 PCIe connection would limit the bandwidth on the MP 5,1’s PCIe 2.0 bus.

    It was definitely not designed for the old old Mac Pro but rather as a budget option for single-slot Thunderbolt enclosures to upgrade Mac Minis etc without taking up all their TB ports, and for PCs with few PCIe slots available. On the PC side this could give new life to a lot of older machines that don’t have Thunderbolt ports for a TB dock. Like the old HP mini tower I tinkered with turning into a TrueNAS 10GbE server. Really cool combination of useful upgrades in one card for a pretty reasonable price actually! I only wish they’d given it a x16 PCIe connection for maximum speed with older PCIe 2.0 machines.
  • Satechi X3 Slim Keyboard review: A fantastic alternative to Apple's Magic Keyboard

    I appreciate that the Satechi X3 has the Fn key in the same place as the full-size Apple keyboards do. What I don't appreciate is how they replaced the Exposé and Launchpad shortcuts on F3 and F4 with App Switcher and Spotlight. I already instinctively use the Cmd+Tab and Cmd+Space shortcuts for those functions, I would never reach up to F4 to switch between apps. I missed the Exposé shortcut and there doesn’t seem to be any easy way to remap the shortcut keys on the Satechi. I think the Spotlight shortcut key literally sends Cmd+Space to the OS. 

    I bought the Satechi X3 but I had to return it because it didn’t work well with older Macs. On my Mac Pro 2012 I was not able to see or pair it over bluetooth, probably because it only has BT2.1. (It may be possible to upgrade an older Mac with a newer Bluetooth USB dongle, I didn’t try that.)

    I maybe could have lived with that if it worked well in wired mode, however the Satechi X3 was not recognized by the Mac Pro at all until after the OS had finished loading. So I couldn’t hold down the Option key to choose a boot disk on startup, for example, which is something I do often. Or reset the PRAM, or enter Recovery Mode, or any other startup keyboard shortcuts.

    When booted into Mac OS High Sierra with the X3 in wired mode, the OS said it didn’t recognize the keyboard layout and I had to type a few keys to correctly identify the keyboard. After that it worked fine.

    Also the backlight bleed around the edges of the keys was much brighter than the actual key label that’s supposed to be the thing that’s lit up. I also didn’t love the squishier key feel compared to my wired silver and white Apple keyboard. I did have some instances of repeated or missed letters. And the X3 had slightly larger and more spread out keys which felt a little less natural for my smallish hands.

    The incompatibility with older Macs was the main reason I had to return mine. On the other hand I got a used (discontinued) space gray Magic Keyboard which does work perfectly with my Mac Pro 2012, and solves all those other problems too. Although it lacks the multi-device and backlight features, it’s fundamentally a better Mac keyboard. Too bad, I wanted to like the Satechi. On first impression its build quality is very good and Apple-like.

  • The birth, life, death, and possible resurrection of the Thunderbolt eGPU in macOS

    Eric_WVGG said:
    lkrupp said:
    Sorry, not going to happen except in the wet dreams of techies stuck in paradigms of the past.
    Alright, but…

    - there will be a new Mac Pro
    - there is no reason for the Mac Pro to exist beyond expansion cards
    - the only expansion cards anyone cares about are GPUs
    - Thunderbolt is just external PCIe; if AMD GPUs are ever supported on Apple Silicon, they WILL work on eGPUs
    - why would Apple go through all this work just for their best-of-the-best computers to remain second fiddle

    I think it’s 50:50. The more confusing question IMO is why the Mac Pro persists at all.
    Well said. After the super high performance Mac Studio Ultra, what else is left for the Mac Pro to offer besides crazy highest-end expansion potential?

    Apple knew full well that M1 was coming when they started designing the current Mac Pro in 2018. At that time, neither the existing Mac Pro nor any other Mac offered PCIe slots for customer expansion. I don't think they would have brought back customer-facing PCIe slots in late 2019, with a whole new proprietary slot and cooling system design, only to take the slots away again in the next model.

    They could have made the Mac Studio in 2019, called it the new Mac Pro, it would have been the natural successor to the 2013 Mac Pro, and nobody would have been surprised at all. It could have been like the iMac Pro spec-wise with no upgradeable parts, and that would have made a very smooth transition to M1 in just a few years.

    But instead in 2019 they re-positioned the Mac Pro from being a mostly sealed appliance à la the 2013 Mac Pro, back to being a PC-like tower with a bunch of PCIe slots and almost fully interchangeable parts. I really don't think they would have made such a dramatic shift in product design if they weren't planning to continue going in that direction after the looming M1 transition. The whole story about the 2019 Mac Pro was "we hear you" and "we are committed to this market" and a lot of that market is doing VFX, 3D rendering, things that demand the highest possible GPU power.

    Given that they are already on the hook for supporting AMD GPUs on Intel MacOS until the 2019 Mac Pro is deemed "obsolete" late this decade or next, I think they can spare the resources to support AMD GPUs on Apple Silicon Macs also, given the premium prices they charge for those products. I'm less convinced they have any motivation to support eGPUs for consumer/prosumer level products, but we shall see. It's possible that the Mac Pro CPUs won't be branded "M1" and will have some extra secret sauce that enables AMD GPU support, that all other M1 Macs won't have. Perhaps Apple will be able to produce their own GPUs that beat any AMD config imaginable. I kinda doubt that, but that should be a fine solution too if that's their answer to GPU performance. But I do think that it's a hard requirement for a new Mac Pro to offer faster GPU performance than the last one. For the very very niche market that product is aimed at, it just has to.