Maybe your silver one has a broken center button (the touch to join). You say it is not there, but as far as I can remember, all BS1s had a center button. I’m guessing it is there, but has a fault so you cannot see it.
One of my Beosound 1 (2nd gen, non-GVA) is the fussiest touch-button in the house! I had suspected that sleep mode (even on AC), was powering down the “keyboard” until the motion sensor (which can be very-low-power) picked up something. This may be all in my mind, but one thing isn’t: It always takes at least 2 tries to start it up. And it’s fussy about a “full finger” press the second time, not too long, not too short, must be centered. Mine is flaky enough that I can’t tell for sure if it’s pressure-sensitive or just needs enough moist flesh to trigger a capacitance detection. It’s hokey — and maybe yours just needs to be returned under warranty — but lick your finger, turn around three times, click your heels together, and try again. Once mine is running, the swipe functions work fine… but getting that first LED lit and the “boop” play sound takes multiple tries.
No, the touch controls on, e.g. a BeoCenter 9500, worked perfectly! (As did those big-office-building elevator buttons — remember their NE-2 glowing glass rings? — back in the 1980s.) This is why I suspected something about powering down the keypad. Well, that combined with the fact that a powered-off “full sleep” Sonos Move loses almost 6% of its battery every day but the BeoSound 1 somehow only loses about 2%!