I received my new keyboard today. The one pictured in yesterdays post. This time the spacing is good, the main keyboard has exactly the same as an Apple Extended Keyboard and the numeric keypad likewise. The keyboard itself is slightly narrower because some space between the main keyboard, home keys, and the numeric keypad have been compressed. This isn't a problem. It even has a caps lock light.
Even though I can - or could - touch type (RSA Stage II) I don't. I write code mostly, and 200 plus words here per-day. Code is not conducive to touch typing. Instead, I use the multi-finger two-hand whichever finger is nearest the key hits it technique. This means that the muscle memory I have built up over the years of where my hands are in relation to the keyboard and where the keys are can't change. If the spacing changes I have to look at the keys instead of the screen. Having the exact same layout and spacing that Apple has stuck to for decades pays off.
It does come with issues though.
It feels cheap. While it has scissor-switch keys like the Apple keyboard, there is not as much cushioning on the keys. I can probably live with this. It's what you get for a keyboard that is a quarter to half the price of the Apple one.
The command, option, and space keys are smaller. On an Apple keyboard, they are larger than the main A-Z keys and for good reason. You use them a lot. The cmd key is not only smaller but slimmer. This makes it harder to hit. As somebody who uses a lot of cmd-key shortcuts all day this may turn out to be an issue although, so far in testing, it has not.
I can't map the 'screen shot' key (where the Fn key on the Apple Keyboard is) to something useful as it is hardwired to send cmd-shift-3.
On the plus side:
The arrow keys are full size and that is a huge deal.
I did manage to map cmd-enter to = to fix my numeric keypad issue.
I really can not overstate the importance of key spacing and layout staying the same.
Like others, I wish that Apple would make a Magic Extended Keyboard that supported multiple devices so I wouldn't have to consider 3rd party alternatives.
I'll decide next week whether this one is staying.