Take this keyboard out of its box and you'll instantly dismiss it as a bit of a lightweight. It's true that this Canadian-designed keyboard won't win any prizes in a beauty contest or even an award for good value. It costs more than Apple's own gorgeous £20 standard keyboard and doesn't feel as well made. But believe it or not, there are some good reasons why you ought to consider buying this input device from Matias.
In common with its far more expensive stablemate - the Matias Tactile Pro keyboard - the Matias OS X keyboard has the extended Mac characters printed on its keys. For instance, if you find yourself hunting round in vain for a copyright mark, the square root symbol or an umlaut you can easily locate it just by looking at the key tops.
This does, of course, give the whole keyboard a slightly cluttered look, and the quality of the printing on the keys could be better, but for multilingual typists it's a godsend.
Unlike the Tactile Pro keyboard, this cheaper model is a membrane keyboard rather than a switched model. That means that the feel is a bit spongier than the more expensive Matias keyboard but is on a par with Apple's own entry-level model. The construction isn't quite as good as Apple's and the quality of the plastic is a little soft, but accuracy when typing is very good indeed, thanks to the spacing of the keys.
As well as the usual range of keys, there are function buttons all the way up to [F15]. Volume and mute keys are included but the CD eject button doubles up as an [F12] button. Press it once to access widgets in Tiger and hold it down for a second to open or close the CD drawer. It's an ingenious solution and works well.
Lastly, there is an indicator light to show when the Caps Lock button is engaged, an extra Control key and two USB ports, which deliver enough power to use a thumb drive on. Mark Sparrow