To navigate Windows a ‘nipple’, for want of a better word, is integrated in the top right. The left and right click buttons are on the left, while you move the nipple in the right, so you can move the cursor around and click at the same time. Unfortunately, the pointer proved to be the weak spot in the keyboard's armoury. I found that I could get the keyboard to either move incredibly slowly or zoom crazily across the screen, without a lot in between. I’d still recommend keeping a USB mouse handy for those moments when you need to do more intense maintenance work on the system. Beneath the ‘nipple’ is a four directional keys for navigating Media Center and there are dedicated buttons for shutting down the PC and even your TV.
When your fumbling around looking for the buttons to press, you’ll appreciate the fact that there’s a cool orange backlight for the keys at the side, though not the main keys in the center. However, to activate it you’ll still have to find that button in the dark – a dedicated switch to have it on or off by default would have been good.
Generally the keyboard felt solid and well built and it’s black, grey and silver livery mean that it won’t look too ‘computery’ for those who want a home cinema look in the lounge than an office.
When first announced the recommended price was an over-the-top £100. Fortunately, the market seems to have been a bit more realistic and it’s available at Scan for a much more affordable £38.76.
At that price, it’s something of an essential purchase for anyone wanting to build a MCE 2005 system.
The Microsoft Media Center keyboard is well built, neatly laid out, comfortable to type on and affordable. The ‘nipple’ pointer could do with some refinement but that’s the only downside to a great piece of hardware.