Hands-on with Microsoft’s universal foldable Bluetooth keyboard
Away from the Lumia 640 phones announcements and more talk about HoloLens, Microsoft also unveiled a compact universal Bluetooth keyboard that will work across devices including iPads, the Microsoft Surface and even smartphones.
Microsoft hasn’t confirmed pricing or a release date for the useful portable accessory, but it could be a nice little addition for frequent tablet users depending on how much it’ll end up costing.
The keyboard when unfolded is about the same length as a Microsoft Surface and is super slim as well with just a micro USB charging port on the right edge to bulk things up slightly. When you close it up, it’s bit like having a big wallet protecting the keys from damage in a really sleek and elegant way. It’s a bit too big to fit in a front jeans pocket, but if you are willing to risk carrying it in your back pocket, it just about fits.
It’s made out of plastic with a soft touch finish that makes it really comfortable to tap away on the low-level keys. There’s nice travel and it has the kind of fluid typing experience you’d associate with Microsoft’s Surface keyboard add-ons. The keys are good size so it doesn’t feel cramped, however the split space bar does take some time adjusting to.
This is not just for Microsoft laptops, tablets and phones of course with support for Apple and Android devices. Microsoft has even gone to the trouble of adding Command buttons for Mac users.
Across the top of the full QWERTY keyboard, there’s shortcuts to features like volume control and media playback. That’s nothing out of the ordinary as most Bluetooth keyboards offer that extra functionality but the most interesting feature is the ability to switch between two Bluetooth devices with two separate keys. This makes breaking away from a tablet to a phone a much simpler process.
Apart from some issues with the split space bar, the universal keyboard is surprisingly satisfying to type on. The travel is better than I anticipated, I love the compact design and the dedicated Bluetooth switching keys are a nice touch. If Microsoft prices it right, it could be a great Bluetooth keyboard to throw into your bag when you want to hammer something out in the more traditional way instead of on a touchscreen.