All - we've tested the new MacBook keys at some length, and can comment on the differences.
The machine itself is stunningly beautiful. One of the most beautiful designs we have ever seen. You just want to hold its svelte contours. The new colors like space grey are gorgeous.
The haptic trackpad is unmistakably a winner, and the future of trackpads.
The keys are, in our opinion, one of the reasons that the new machine will not be a slam dunk decision for many buyers. The other is the Core M. Both features are something that predecessor models actually do better than the new one.
What the engineers crammed into the package is an impressive tour de force. But the constraints are very tough, and the key travel is simply too short to feel really positive. We either hit too lightly and sometimes didn't get the character, or hit too hard and and it was a little painful to the fingertips. The metal click dome feels sort of like a snap action button. The overall impression is more like a really nice calculator button, rather than a key for typing.
Apple's engineers did an awesome job with almost no space budget, and butterfly architecture definitely improves the parallelism. But it's not the same in all directions. As our analysis predicted, East-West is great, but North-South can still rock and lose some parallelism.
We could readily type on it, since the layout is pretty much identical to the predecessors. But we had a higher error rate due to non-registered characters (from not striking hard enough). We're obviously influenced by our experience with TextBlade, but to our fingers, the new MacBook wasn't as nice a typing experience as the MackBook Pro Retina keyboard. You can certainly adjust to it, but it's not a compelling step forward like the rest of the design.
TextBlade's 2 mm travel is what we think keyboard connaisseurs expect, and the buttery feel of the magnetically damped over-center action is a defining quality that immediately sets it apart.
This is why we have sweated so much blood to go all-out with the upgraded butterfly tooling. That robotic mold has worked out really well, and we're glad we did it.
What each person likes is very personal, but we've already seen consistent impressions by customers who've typed on it that it's distinctly and meaningfully better.
We think the upcoming iPad Pro paired with a TextBlade will be a compelling combination, and will make many laptop users switch paradigms.