Apple is the most flexible of all computer manufacturers in the USA with its wonderful policy of offering all of the Apple computers with whichever keyboard the customer wants with a new BTO (built-to-order) computer purchase. Well, I should say almost all of them. The fact is that when ordering a BTO Mac from Apple USA’s online store at store.Apple.com (or via an Apple dealer that has access to BTO Macs), you can select your choice of keyboard, as long as it is an iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Mac Pro (tower). However, now that the Mac Mini has become such an attractive platform for professional video editing systems (see my related article about that), I have several disappointed consulting clients who are getting undesired answers when they called Apple USA’s 800 number after seeing incomplete keyboard options for the Mac Mini on the website.
Why another keyboard?
Back in 2009, I published the article Choose Apple’s Spanish keyboard, even if you only type in English.
Above is the Apple wired Aluminum Spanish ISO keymap with numeric keyboard. Click here to see a larger version.
If desired, you may read that article in its entirety here, with all of the details. I’ll just cover a few highlights here:
Apple’s wonderful Spanish ISO keyboard is the absolute best tool, even if you write mainly or exclusively in English. It is truly a case where you get all of the advantages, with none of the often “perceived disadvantages”, as you are about to learn. Many people didn’t know that Apple offers the Spanish ISO keyboard at no extra cost even in the USA, whenever you order a built-to-order computer on the Apple Web Store. Yes, the Apple Spanish ISO keyboards are available with the iMac, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and even the Mac Pro tower… and they won’t cost a penny extra! Beyond that, I have seen several cases where resale value of used Apple laptops earn up to US$300 more when they have the Spanish ISO keyboard installed. It is really a win-win situation. Oh, but I haven’t even told you the advantages of the Spanish ISO keyboard itself yet.
Advantages of the Spanish ISO keyboard
- All of the letters are in the exact position as in the USA keyboard.
- Very few of the symbols have changed positions, and they are easily identifiable on the keyboard. There are two extra keys.
- Direct access to accent marks and many other diacritical marks.
- Direct access to the € (euro) symbol, with continuing access to the $ symbol.
- Direct access to the inverted ¿ and ¡ (exclamation) characters, with continuing access to the standard ? and ! characters.
- Easily type cities, provinces, and countries, like Andalucía, Málaga, Mayagüez, Nequ©n, Perú, San Cristóbal, Qu©bec, and São Paulo.
- Easily type brand names, like Med©a, Nestl©, -levia, Übercaster.
- Easily type your clients’ first names properly, like Álvaro, Ángela, Jos©, Mónica, Rub©n, Verónica, and Víctor… or last names like Álvarez, García, Guti©rrez, Martínez, Núñez, and Peña.
- For some languages, direct access to both masculine and feminine ordinal numbers, like 1º, 2º, 3º and 1ª, 2ª, and 3ª… as well as abbreviations like Mª Teresa and Nº.
Increased use of accent marks in USA films and TV credits
You may have observed the increase use of accented first and last names in USA films and TV credits, as well as in lower-thirds on ESPN, or in newspapers like The New York Times. Many English terms use accent or other marks, including d©jà vu, Piña Colada, and r©sum©, and some new weather terms, like El Niño and La Niña. The Spanish ISO keyboard facilitates that for you, even though the first and third terms actually come from French.
The most universal keyboard on the market
The Spanish ISO keyboard is the only one on the market that can type directly in all of the following languages: Castilian, Catalán, English, French, Italian, and Portuguese (at least). No other keyboard can cover all of those languages directly. This means better efficiency from the Spanish ISO keyboard.
What about Apple’s new iOS-like keyboard feature in MacOS 10.7 (Lion)?
Of course, I am very aware of Apple’s new (apparently undocumented) iOS-like keyboard feature in MacOS 10.7 (Lion). For those who are unaware of this feature, starting with 10.7, first of all, there are no more automatic key repeat keys with letters (only with some symbols). Instead, if you press-and-hold a vowel on your keyboard on a Mac running 10.7, you’ll see a few accented options for that letter appear above so you can stop and select the desired version. Although this is nice for occasional use, this is obviously not a replacement for other keymaps, and Apple obviously agrees with that statement since the company offers other keymaps in iOS, and continues to offer several other types of hardware keymaps with all of the Macs at store.Apple.com in the USA. Here is an example of the full set of options offered with other Macs:
And here are the limited set of options available for the Mac Mini:
Results my clients have experienced when calling the Apple USA 800 number
The first time one of my clients called Apple’s USA 800 number to purchase a Spanish keyboard to accompany the Mac Mini she had already ordered at store.Apple.com, she was told: “No problem!” but then mistakenly received the USA version. When she called to complain, according to her report, she was bounced from department to department and finally was told that they could only ship her a Spanish Apple keyboard if she could supply a shipping address in M©xico! Since of course she doesn’t have that (she’s in Florida, USA), Apple offered her a refund and e-mailed her an airway bill to return it at Apple’s expense. Others have simply been told “no” at the first request.
Conspiracy or simple oversight?
I really don’t know whether this is a conspiracy or a simple oversight. As I stated in the introductory paragraph of this article, I am very appreciative of the fact that Apple offers the Spanish keyboard (and other alternatives) in the USA for absolutely all of the Macs other than the Mac Mini, and I hope that they continue to do so. I do hope that they correct the situation and begin offering both the option when ordering a BTO Mac Mini, as well as offer them as a separate item.
UPDATE: See my latest article Relief after Apple’s segregation of keyboards in the USA, which has information about a Hialeah, Florida, USA company which offers these keyboards.
Consider reading the following related articles:
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