Recently, I have received quite a lot of products from the Microsoft Hardware division. For example, we recently reviewed the Microsoft Touch Mouse. Today we will focus on an interesting keyboard model.
In general, this division has created a large number of interesting products in its history. For example, until fate forced me to switch to laptops, I used Microsoft Natural 4000. And I still consider it one of the most interesting, innovative and comfortable keyboards on the market. The Natural 4000 has a unique dome design that keeps your hands in a naturally relaxed position without fatigue when typing, even with large volumes of text. However, its advantages are not limited to this either, for example, I have always liked the quality of the materials.
Why did I suddenly remember this particular keyboard? Well, first of all, I still have it on my big computer. Secondly, today we also have a Microsoft keyboard for testing, and also with a curved keypad (albeit not a dome), Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000.
Description of the keyboard
The manufacturer focuses this keyboard on working with tablets – for those users who type a lot, and who, therefore, are not satisfied with the on-screen keyboard.
Microsoft is positioning the keyboard as portable, i.e.? that it can simply be tucked into a bag where it will always be at hand. Moreover, its physical dimensions are 355 by 167 mm, and its thickness is 16 mm. On the one hand, it is difficult to make it less, because? the size of the keys and batteries is a constant value, on the other hand, if you approach it purely from the point of view of size, it is not so small. The keyboard is comparable in size to a modern thin and light laptop and substantially larger than a 10-inch tablet in all dimensions.
One of the main features of the keyboard is the curved work surface, which the manufacturer calls the comfort curve: it is curved in such a way that the hands lie in a natural position when typing and do not get tired.
Traditionally for Microsoft, the case is made of high-quality plastic, the keyboard edging (except for the shiny strip on top) has a soft-touch coating. The keys themselves are made of matte black plastic. In general, the keyboard gives an attractive impression of a quality product.
Power is supplied from two AAA batteries or rechargeable batteries. There is a mechanical switch on the body.
Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 works over the standard Bluetooth interface, so for connection it is enough that the other device supports Bluetooth and has a corresponding profile. The keyboard was easily connected to both the computer and the tablet: just turn on device detection, select the keyboard and enter the code. When connected, the computer does not ask for the device PIN, but offers to enter an eight-digit numeric code from the keyboard. The tablet behaves the same way, only there are four numbers in the code, not eight. But the Windows phone 7 phone asked for a standard PIN and could not connect to the keyboard. The Android phone could not be tested.
The button on the bottom edge is needed to reset – the keyboard works with “its” device, when the button is pressed, the connection is broken and the keyboard is ready to connect to a new device.
How It Works: Android
Once the keyboard is connected to the tablet, it starts working everywhere. In particular, by pressing a key, the tablet turns on the screen, and by the second, it unlocks (I think this can happen in a bag). After connecting an external keyboard, the on-screen keyboard stops appearing when you select an input window (although it appears on the screen when you press it a second time with your finger).
The manufacturer honestly warns that most shortcuts won’t work on iOS and Android. In principle, this is so, but when out of interest I began to check all the shortcuts that I could remember, then, to my amazement, Ctrl-Alt-Del worked, sending the tablet into a hard reboot. Some of the other keyboard shortcuts work in Android too. For example, Ctrl + x, + c, + v. Of course, they also work between applications. It is quite natural that F1-F12 do not work. Buttons implemented through combinations with FN (for example, Home) work fine. Esc works like a back button, although sometimes for some reason it doesn’t work, where and how – I didn’t quite understand. The cursor works, and it moves not only within the text, but also between fields. Alt is not used anywhere.
However, the hardware keyboard is an add-on over the software keyboard, and all interaction with the system goes through it. This is important, because? the functions of the on-screen keyboard work, and some functions differ from keyboard to keyboard.
The hardest part was switching between English and Russian. In the standard Android keyboard (tablet, system version 3.1), it was not possible to find options for switching the language, especially since the Russian and English systems are generally perceived as two different keyboards. Even if you switch the on-screen keyboard from English to Russian, the text is still entered in English from the external keyboard.
If you use the Samsung keyboard, then everything is much simpler: to change the language, use the Shift + Space key combination. However, in real life, this combination turned out to be extremely inconvenient to use. Moreover, the reason for this inconvenience is so deep that the developers of the keyboard most likely did not even know about it. It lies in an ancient change in the layout of the Cyrillic alphabet. A long time ago, Microsoft proposed its own keyboard layout (different from that used in typewriters) of the Cyrillic keyboard, where the period and comma are located on the key to the right of the “U” in the bottom row digits “6” and “7”; for comparison, you can set the option Russian Typewriter in the Windows layouts menu). In this case, the point was pressed just like that, and the comma – with Shift.
As a result, we get the following: in Russian, a comma is always followed by a space, and, as a rule, when typing quickly, you do not have time to let go of the space – i.e.? press Shift, a key with a period (it turns out a comma) and then a space – while Shift is still pressed. It usually doesn’t matter at all, but when using an external keyboard (capable of fast typing) with Android and a Samsung keyboard, this is how you change the keyboard layout to English every time you want to put a comma. This problem manifests itself with other signs (for example, colon), but much less often, because? To. there, the pace of printing itself drops.
There is an opinion that this drawback manifests itself only with touch typing at a high rate, but the keyboard in question is, in general, focused on many and fast typing users. However, this feature is not a shortcoming of the keyboard, but the software of our system.
So, in Android, the functionality of the keyboard is very dependent on the on-screen keyboard to which the hardware is connected. Here I would like to draw your attention to the fact that I used only two keyboards that came with the tablet. There are many keyboards on the market with different behaviors and different functionality. Since this is a matter of tastes and preferences, I propose to put it in the comments to the material and invite all readers to express their opinions.
Connecting and working went quite everyday, I did not notice any peculiarities of this keyboard. The manufacturer does not provide for the installation of any drivers for this keyboard on the Windows platform. However, Mac users are encouraged to download the Microsoft Intellipoint suite. All keyboard keys and functions are working properly. Since there are no specific features here, let’s talk about the Microsoft Bluetooth 5000 experience.
After a period of getting used to it, there are no problems with it in the work. The arrow keys are narrowed, but this almost does not affect the usability: it feels cramped, but there are no false presses. When editing text, it is convenient to have PgUp and PgDn next to the cursor. Del is not in the corner (which I am very used to since I work a lot with laptops), but the key is large and hard to miss. Occasionally I turned off the sound by mistake, but this is a matter of habit.
As for the typing experience, in all respects, the Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 occupies an intermediate position between desktop and mobile keyboards: in terms of depth of pressure, and in terms of hardness of the keys, and even in terms of noise level. The keyboard taps when typing, so you can’t call it silent.
A few words must be said about the curved shape of the keyboard, the very comfort curve. It is really very convenient in work: the wrists are relaxed and they do not need to be bent outward, as when working with a traditional keyboard. This is noticeable when typing on a table, but especially if you hold the keyboard in your lap. Typically, typing in this position is more difficult (you have to twist your wrists), and on the Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000, the palms are relaxed.
I want to note that, in my opinion, the keyboard is more focused on those who type with a blind ten-finger method. The curved shape is good with a fixed position of the palms, but if you move them over the keyboard, then it is not a fact that you will like the curved shape – it is more difficult to aim at the keys.
Testing this keyboard coincided with testing one of Sony’s top-end notebooks, whose keyboard is very close to optimal ergonomics. So I could not resist and compared the impressions. The Microsoft keyboard has a heavier pressure than a laptop (Sony has an airy keyboard, but very clear – one of the best on the market), but also crisp and confident. Plus, the edges of the keys are raised, thanks to which the finger rests more clearly on the key. Basically, I type blindly and at a fast pace. With the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard 5000, typing has definitely improved and typos have decreased – almost certainly due to the curved line of the keys and the different palm position when typing.
What could be better
During the test, I noticed two points that, in my opinion, somewhat limit the work with the keyboard, especially when it comes to working together with the tablet.
Firstly, it would be great to have a positioning device on it – a touchpad, a trackpoint mushroom in the keyboard, or something similar. They will be useful both when working with a computer (in principle, when working at a table, you can do without a mouse, but if, for example, you control your home HTPC media computer from a sofa, it would be very useful), and when working with a tablet, although at first glance it seems much more convenient to use the screen itself.
When using a keyboard with a tablet, it will most likely stand upright, like the screen of an open laptop. In this case, it is not very convenient to work with the screen with your finger: the tablet strives to move away with any pressure on the screen. Dragging something across the screen, for example, is almost impossible, because? the tablet starts to ride and contact is lost.
Plus, when entering text, you often need to rearrange the place where the text will be entered. It is much more convenient to do this with the cursor than with a finger, because. the cursor can be
positioned more accurately (even considering that Android has a convenient shortcut showing the place of input).
The second detail that I missed and that I would like to see is the retractable stop, on which you can put the tablet. On the one hand, not everyone needs it. For example, there is a convenient regular case for the Apple iPad 2 tablets, which makes it very convenient to place the tablet on the table at different angles. But even these tablets often come without such cases, and for Android tablets, their absence is more the rule than the exception. So it’s definitely not worth writing down as cons. But if there was such a stand, it would be a nice bonus.
For me personally, this keyboard turned out to be a very interesting option, because I write a lot and it was the inconvenience of working with the on-screen keyboard that held me back when working with the tablet. Now this drawback has been eliminated, especially since the Microsoft 5000 keyboard in terms of ergonomics can give a good head start to most desktop and mobile keyboards – and will still win.
Another question is how massive the demand will be for it. And this question is more likely not to the quality of the hardware, but to the people. Social networks in modern implementation do not require large texts, and Twitter will force you to switch to the “telegraph style”. Few people use a tablet to write serious texts (although this keyboard has become easier), but for “hello!” and “gygy” is enough on-screen keyboard. Therefore, despite the fact that there are a lot of tablets sold, and there will be even more, how much the number of users who need an additional keyboard will grow is not yet clear. Nevertheless, a product is already available on the market that gives a very good opportunity to print a lot and with ease for tablet owners.
I liked the keyboard: easy to connect, very convenient to use. Thanks to its curved shape, it is very pleasant to work with it, whether on the table or on your knees: the wrists are in a comfortable position and relaxed, the fingers are in place – you can type very quickly and completely without typos. The text editing keys are located very well. In general, it is a real gift for those who know the blind typing method and actively work with texts (especially if the work is on the road).
It is also very good as a market product: it is made of high quality, looks beautiful, is easy to use, does not create unnecessary problems for the user. The question is how much it will be in demand, because rarely anyone uses tablets for active work, and the on-screen keyboard is quite enough for three lines in a social network. But if you do write a lot from a tablet, I advise you to pay attention to this keyboard, life will become much easier with it. At least in my experience.
The suggested price for this keyboard is approximately $ 50.