Talking about price, I paid for mine about 80$ at an office depot, so probably no bargains here. It wasn’t cheap, but I guess you can find better deals online. There are two color versions (black and silver) so watch for both, as you should be able to find it in the 50$ – 60$ range.
It clearly comes more expensive than the 20$ range chinese keyboards (which I haven’t tried) and would probably only be worth the money if they copied this one 🙂 and heaps cheaper than the 120$ – 150$ iPad case + keyboard design that are out there. The reason why I went for this and no a case design for my iPad, is that this clearly offers more flexibility: you can use it with phones, as well as tablets, windows, android and iOS, and you can actually even pair more devices to it. The other reason is that those cases make your iPad considerably thicker, and there are times when you may not be needing it. Nor the keyboard 🙂
This is where I think Microsoft really did it. It’s clearly not a full size keyboard, but your hands get accomodated immediately, and you just start typing right away. And when I sa typing, I don’t mean typoing 🙂 The layout is really very similar to pretty much any other standard keyboard you’ve used, so moving to it, or even switching between various keyboard types (which is inherent, and we all know how we hate it) works flawlessly. I often switch between my Mac, this one, and a Windows PC I stil use, and it takes little to no getting used to.
The width of the keyboard, when folded, is pretty much the same as the width of an iPad Air 2. Which makes it a perfect travel companion for the tablet. Height when folded is just about half of that, anda thickness is about the size of a pencil. Never a problem when you though it in your backpack or bag (it wouldn’t fit in your pocket though 🙂
I have the black version. Not a problem with my silver iPad. Or my “space grey” iPhone, or whatever color the Samsung guys call my Note. Like I said, there’s another flavor, whitish grey, which could be of preference to the ladies, and I assume it works equally well.
This Microsoft keyboard, has a lid, which is very interesting and has a couple of really useful functions. Apart from protecting your keys when not in use, it also functions as an on-off switch. So as you want to start typing, just open it, it will immediately connect to your pre-paired device (via bluetooth, of course). The lid also serves as a stand for the mobile device once opened. It has a very nicely engineered two position support for your mobile device, which I’ve always found sufficient. And quite sturdy. Helps you type on a flat desk, on an airplane tray, or even on your lap.
So basically it folds, but not like the foldable microsoft keyboard, which I could never use due to its changes key layout, which is always a breaker for me. So always look for a standard key positioning whenever you’re out buying a keyboard, or else you’ll regret it minutes after starting to use it.
The keyboard base has a nice glossy finish, while the lid has a rubbery surface, which is great for stability as it would never slip, but it’s also collecting dust easily. Could have helped if MS added a pouch in the package but nevermind.
Also this mobile keyboard has a 3-way switch, designed to allow you to pair up to three devices and use them sequentially. The switch is labelled (via icons) with Windows, Android and iPad / iPhone. It doesn’t matter however how you set them up. I for example use the iPad / iPhone position on the swtich for my iPad, and the Windows one for my iPhone, and it works just fine.
Apart from the main keys, there’s also an extra row with smaller buttons like lock, volume and media control, which all appear to work out of the box.
The keyboard charges via a mini-USB, although I’ve never charged ever since purchase, so I guess the battery takes a long while until completely drained. The mini-USB connector is on the side.
There’s another button on the same side of the connector, which for me is the only bugger of this keyboard. It’s a(nother) on-off switch which I sometimes accidentally press when adjusting the position of the keyboard on the tray or on my lap. A pretty big issue as it seems quite sensitive. So you either find your way around it – pretty frustrating, as you should always think before moving / adjusting the keyboard, or you learn to live with it – just long press the power switch to turn the thing back on as you accidentally pushed it to power the thing off. It does take a couple of seconds, while the phone realises there’s no hardware keyboard connected, brings up the on-screen keyboard, and then connects back, takes away the touch keyboard, and you can start typing again.
Like I said, pairing is easy: when you open the lid for the first time and select the desired position of the 3-way swich, the keyboard is already in pairing mode, and you can pair it to pretty much any bluetooth capable device. You will be shown a code on the screen that you need to enter using the numeric keys on the keyboard just in order to confirm it’s you.
The two position mount on the lid has proven to be really sufficient for me, for both iPad and mobile phone use, as the screen tilts just exactly right for either desktop use or lap use. It comes harder to use both positions when your devices are wrapped in various sleeves or cases, but you can probably settle upon one of them – even with the case on.
Being about the size of the iPad Air2, it makes the perfect travel companion for the slate coming from Apple. Not only you can type quickly and accurately, but you also gain a pretty impressive screen estate, otherwise occupied by the on-screen keyboard. So by all means, if you need to get productive on your iPad, this little keyboard can really help you get stuff done.
Boxing wasn’t bad, the product coming in a typical satin finished Microsoft coloured box, big enough to accommodate the keyboard (which comes in a plastic sealing) and some manuals inside. I wish there was however a pouch included, as per the 80$ price tag and the aforementioned rubbery finish of the lid that collects a lot of dust, it could have worked on the peace-of-mind of the user and would have given an (even more) premium feel.
However, unboxing is still far from Apple’s presumably designed experience, as when I initially opened the box, I literally ripped it from the wrong side, as it was not intuitively enough on which side it opens (or at least for me it wasn’t)
Even though I paid quite a bit for this little piece of equipment, I’m very happy with my purchase. It’s exactly what I was looking for and it performs according to my expectations. The layout is pretty much standard, which is definitely something that you should want in a keyboard, and even though it’s built in a slightly smaller form factor, it poses no problem into getting used to it. Key feedback is great, and it really pushes you to type fast and accurately, which for me it actually unleashes some creativity.