- Review Price: £55.99
Now Windows 7 is out and to a gentle, polite ripple of applause (nothing too raucous thank you) we can finally get back to what the company is ‘obviously’ best known for: peripherals! We’ve reviewed plenty of Microsoft keyboards over the years but the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 is the company’s thinnest keyboard yet. Yes, it’s not an especially exciting claim to fame, but if you need a compact, portable keyboard then this could be the answer.
It’s not a particularly cheap answer, mind. Most online retailers don’t have any stock just yet, but pre-order pricing ranges from around £42 to the £55.99 we’ve listed from Play. A ways out there in the land of make believe is eBuyer, who is offering pre-orders at a staggering £110 and an expected shipping date of November 30th! All of which suggests getting hold of this set could be easier said than done.
Still, we’ve got it here and a neat set it is too. Some of its considerable cost can be explained by the presence of a separate number pad (necessitating two integrated Bluetooth transmitters). It can be used with the keyboard or independently and even comes with its own rather smart fabric carry pouch. This, allied to the already compact dimensions (the keyboard itself is just 355mm wide, 167mm deep and is little thicker than an AAA battery), means the Mobile Keyboard 6000 fills the ‘mobile’ criteria exceedingly well.
There’s no shortage of style, either. Just being so slim obviously helps here, but the combination of white plastic base, black soft-touch plastic and a slim glossy strip along the top has an elegant simplicity. All these materials are pretty durable and overall build quality is excellent, too.
Being Bluetooth-based, this set doesn’t come with a separate dongle thus restricting it to PCs and laptops (more likely the latter) that have it built-in. This makes perfect sense (what use is a portable keyboard if you then lose the dongle when you need it?), though if you don’t have Bluetooth you could just buy a dongle yourself.
Pairing is perfectly straightforward, though obviously the number pad and keyboard have to be paired separately; simply search for the device in Windows, input the code it provides to verify it’s connecting to the correct keyboard and you’re done. Wireless range is, in common with most Bluetooth devices, around 10 metres in clear line of sight. This will vary depending on conditions, but is ultimately more than sufficient.
As you might have garnered from the photos this is another Microsoft keyboard to feature its ‘Comfort Curve’. This takes a little getting used to since keys don’t quite fall exactly where you’d normally expect, particularly those in the middle (T, G, H, B and N) that are larger than they’d normally be. However, after a little time, you’ll get over the initial discomfort and begin to appreciate it a good deal.
It’s a subtle thing really, but the curve just means you don’t kink your wrists to type, resulting in your hands sitting more naturally. This effect is particularly beneficial on a small keyboard like this, making it feel a good deal less cramped despite its size.
This ergonomic comfort is wedded to an excellent overall typing experience. Keys have that firm, positive feel to them that instantly impresses and ensures fast, error-free typing. Microsoft has also done a great job with the layout – so often a problem on compact keyboards like this. Aside from the half-height top row of keys there’s no discernible compromise; Microsoft has even squeezed Page Up, Down and a Delete key on the right as well as volume controls and a mute key on the top row.
If there is a complaint to be made in regards to usability it would be that the set sits very flat. Though there is a modicum of elevation created by the lip into which the batteries sit, some little feet to provide a degree of adjustability wouldn’t go amiss. Still, it doesn’t severely affect comfort, so is little more than a small niggle.
The keyboard and number pad use regular AAA batteries – two for the keyboard, one for the number pad. This means you could use rechargeable batteries (save the planet and all that) or purchase new ones should you inconveniently run out of power.
Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t quote any battery life figures, but we’ve been using the set for several days without difficulty. Battery life in wireless mice and keyboards can typically run into months, so is unlikely to be a pressing issue. When you do eventually run short there’s a small ‘low battery’ indicator in the top right to warn you.
It’s definitively on the expensive side, but the Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 earns its price-tag thanks to assured build quality, excellent ergonomics and great flexibility. As such, if you do want a small, compact keyboard and number pad, we heartily recommend it.
Score in detail