Satechi Slim X3 Bluetooth Backlit Keyboard Review

Apple’s latest update to flagship Magic Keyboard, which added Touch ID and little else, failed to impress us. Satechi’s Slim X3 Bluetooth Backlit Keyboard ($89.99), the latest wireless keyboard designed for Apple users, does one better. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel (and it surely doesn’t have to – the Magic Keyboard is at least functional and stylish), the X3 Keyboard mimics Apple’s minimalist board profile while improving travel and feedback. buttons. It lacks Touch ID, but in exchange it’s $100 less, making it an attractive alternative for Mac users after typing comfort.

Satechi does what Apple does not

If there’s one thing Apple gets it right, it’s the look and overall design of the Magic Keyboard. From the Mac Studio to the keyboard and mouse, every Apple product features a clean, bespoke design, even if it cuts back on functionality at times. The Slim X3 almost exactly matches the measurements of the new Magic Keyboard, with a size of 4.5 x 16.6 x 0.4 inches (HWD). It is slightly heavier, but still weighs less than a pound. Its svelte design beats just about every Mac keyboard alternative we reviewed, including Logitech MX keycaps and the previous Satechi aluminum keyboard model.

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Satechi Slim X3 Bluetooth Backlit Keyboard

(Photo: Zackery Cuevas)

As with aesthetics, simplicity is also the name of the game when it comes to setup. Simply turn on the keyboard by flipping the switch in the top right corner and press and hold one of the Bluetooth connect buttons until your computer is paired. Two LED indicators at the top right show battery life and whether the Num Lock feature has been activated. Towards the center, you’ll find the USB-C port for charging the internal battery.

In terms of functionality, the Slim X3 is tailor-made for the Mac user. The full-size board is equipped with 15 function keys, as well as a host of shortcuts to control volume, brightness, media, and more. Of course, as it’s not an Apple device, the Satechi ditches the Touch ID button; the design replaces it with a USB eject button. This makes it exactly like the pre-Touch ID 2019 Apple Magic Keyboard, if only in terms of function keys.

Satechi Slim X3 Bluetooth Backlit Keyboard

(Photo: Zackery Cuevas)

But the new Slim X3 comes with two main phone cards to differentiate it. First, it can pair with up to four Bluetooth devices at once. Users can connect to iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as Windows devices, cycling through each connection by pressing one of the Bluetooth buttons nestled above the number keys. Use the included USB-C cord and you can insert a fifth device via a wired connection, if you’re inundated with keyboard-needing gadgets.

The Slim X3’s second selling point is its price: it’s $100 cheaper than the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and $50 cheaper than the Magic Keyboard without it, making it a bargain for Mac users.

Satechi Slim X3 Bluetooth Backlit Keyboard

(Photo: Zackery Cuevas)

We’ve already said that many types of creatives use Apple products and have light typing requirements, which might explain why Apple’s keyboards got minimal upgrades in typing comfort. The Satechi mimics the shallow key travel of the Apple Keyboard, as well as its scissor switches, although it is somewhat more comfortable, providing some of the tactile feedback of more substantial keyboards. It’s not as dynamic as a key switch found in a mechanical keyboard, but it’s far more satisfying for heavy typists and those who find themselves writing all day. (Like me!) It’s also compatible with newer Mac devices and supports older models dating back to 2012.

Just the basics

Although the Slim X3 achieves a lot, it’s not a perfect device. For one, the keyboard only comes in one color scheme: black keys on a silver aluminum frame. It looks good, but those hoping to add a pop of color to their desktop won’t find it here. It’s also not very ergonomic, without even a kickstand to support it like, for example, the Cherry Stream Wireless.

Satechi Slim X3 Bluetooth backlit keyboard with logo on the back

(Photo: Zackery Cuevas)

Then there’s battery life. The Satechi X3 comes with a rechargeable battery that provides a modest 144 hours of battery life, that’s if you’re using the lowest backlight settings. With 10 backlight settings available, turning up the illumination to maximum will result in a measly 10 hours of battery life. Now the keyboard turns off the lights once it reaches about 15% of the remaining battery life, but if you’re someone who regularly uses key backlighting for visibility, this could be a problem.

USB port and sensor for Satechi Slim X3 Bluetooth backlit keyboard

(Photo: Zackery Cuevas)

Satechi makes efforts to combat backlights that drain the battery too quickly. In addition to turning off at 15%, the backlight automatically dims to the lowest level if there is no use after one minute. Then the backlight will turn off if there is no use for three minutes. Finally, the keyboard will enter sleep mode after no use for 30 minutes or more. Chances are you won’t be typing for 10 hours straight (we hope), but you’re looking at an average of 45 hours before a charge, a tad low compared to the Logitech Ergo K860, which promises two years on a pack of AA batteries.

Finally, there is no customization software. That’s not a big deal for a keyboard like this, but it does mean there are no customization options outside of the very basic choices available through your computer’s settings app.

The alternative to the apple in power

The Satechi Slim X3 proves to be an effective alternative to the exorbitantly priced Magic Keyboard, despite the lack of Touch ID. But while it offers almost the entire Mac experience at a fraction of the Apple price, its ergonomics and battery life leave something to be desired. The Satechi remains the top pick for price-sensitive Mac users and those looking for a general-purpose, reliable keyboard for basic office work, though the Cherry Stream is our top pick for basic wireless keyboards, thanks to its economical price, quality key switches, and 2.4 GHz connection.

Satechi Slim X3 Bluetooth Backlit Keyboard

The essential

The Satechi Slim X3 Bluetooth Backlit Keyboard offers the form and function of the Apple Magic Keyboard at a much lower price, but if you’re not a fan of minimalist keyboards, this probably won’t change your mind.

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