The TrustedReviews office is generally awash with new, cool and exciting technology, and that tends to desensitise the team somewhat. It therefore takes something a little special to get my pulse racing, and when I do get excited about a new product I definitely don’t expect it to be a keyboard! Amazingly though, I have to say that I found myself surprisingly keen to get Microsoft’s new Arc wireless keyboard out of its box when it arrived on my desk.
The Arc is very different to the vast majority of keyboards that pass through the halls of TrustedReviews. First and foremost, it’s a beautifully designed piece of kit, and second, it’s tiny. For any Mac users who are using the super-slim, aluminium wireless keyboards, you’ll know exactly the kind of form factor that Microsoft has aimed for with the Arc. Okay, so the Arc doesn’t have the brushed aluminium finish of Apple’s effort, but as a long term user of Apple’s wireless keyboard, I can confirm that the Arc is a much better device - but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
The Arc really is a compact keyboard measuring about 310 x 155mm, but despite it’s small dimensions it’s an absolute joy to use. As you’ve probably gathered from the pictures, the Arc utilises an isolated layout, much like many modern notebooks, and of course, just like the Apple keyboards. However, unlike the Apple keyboards, there’s a surprising amount of travel to the keys on the Arc. The break is also unusually solid given its size and depth, and each key literally springs back with each strike, setting your finger up for the next keystroke.
The big difference between the Arc and the Apple wireless keyboard, is that with the Apple unit I’m happy to forego a degree of feel and usability in favour of beautiful design and compact dimensions. But with the Arc I don’t feel as if I’m compromising on usability at all, despite the fact that it’s every bit as slim and stylish as the Apple option. In fact I would happily choose to use the Arc as my main keyboard on a daily basis.
Of course aesthetics are a matter of personal taste, but despite the lack of a metal finish, the Arc really does look superb. The glossy black finish gives it a classy persona, and doesn’t pick up as many fingerprints as I would have expected. The keys are matt black and have a tactile finish that reduces the chance of your fingers slipping from their desired targets. The Spacebar is also far larger than on the Apple wireless keyboard, although this comes at the expense of separate cursor keys – the Arc makes do with a four-way rocker button, which saves space, but isn’t as easy to use.
As the name suggests, this keyboard doesn’t lay flat on the desk, instead it arcs in the middle. This design makes typing for long periods incredibly comfortable – there’s no wrist rest, but because the front of the Arc is so low, resting the heels of my hands on the desk makes for a great angle of attack on the keys.