The Sculpt Mobile Keyboard from Microsoft is a fairly priced Bluetooth keyboard that's both lightweight and comfortable to use. While it doesn't have the cover-slash-stand that its Wedge Mobile sister keyboard does, it's still a viable option for long-term use and comfort on the road.
At a Glance
The Good: Curves, long battery life
The Bad: No elevating feet
The Sculpt Mobile Keyboard is among the group of products that Microsoft is releasing for use with its Windows 8 operating system. At the time of this writing (September 2012), the OS was not yet available, but the Sculpt Mobile is still compatible with Windows 7 and other Bluetooth-enabled devices.
I tested this using my Acer laptop with Windows 7 and my iPhone 4S. If your laptop does not have built-in Bluetooth, you can purchase an additional transceiver to use with the Sculpt Mobile. I picked one up on Amazon for just a couple bucks. Click here to read directions on how to pair a Bluetooth device using Windows 7.
The Sculpt Mobile is incredibly slim but still remains quite sturdy. It measures less than 0.75 inches thick, but unlike the Wedge Mobile Keyboard (another Bluetooth and Windows 8 device), this keyboard lays completely flat against the desk without any attached stand or raised feet to elevate. I do wish Microsoft had included some flip-up feet should you want the option (I almost always do). It does come with tiny rubber grippers on the bottom four corners to prevent the device from sliding around.
The rest of the keyboard measures about 14 inches long by 6.5 inches wide. This is a larger keyboard than the Wedge Mobile, which measures 10 inches long by 4 inches high.
The Sculpt Mobile is fairly attractive keyboard as far as mobile keyboards go. The keys are matte black, and there is a glossy black frame around the edge of the device. Most glossy surfaces result in constant fingerprints, but this wasn't really a problem with the Sculpt Mobile - probably because the glossy surface was so small. Unlike the Wedge Mobile, this does not come with a cover or a case. Whether you think a mobile keyboard requires one is up to you, but it's worth noting that the Sculpt's MSRP is $30 less than the Wedge: $49.95 vs. $79.95. (You will likely be able to pick up both keyboards for prices well below their MSRPs once they become available at retail.)
As with the Wedge Mobile Keyboard, the Sculpt has six rows of keys with the very top featuring hot keys, media keys and "charms," the last of which are exclusive to Windows 8 use.
The keyboard paired quickly and easily with both the Bluetooth dongle on my laptop and with my iPhone. In both instances, set up was a snap. I did not experience any issues with the keyboard failing to "wake up" after not being used for a time, which is a common complaint with many Bluetooth devices. I would say the longest lag time I experienced while waking up was around two full seconds.
When using a mobile keyboard, a user must typically expect to give up several details regarding comfort. Mobile keyboards are never intended for long-term use, and they drop such features as separate number pads and padded wrist rests to maintain their portability. And while the Sculpt Mobile is not a keyboard you should hunker down in your cubicle with from 9-5, Monday through Friday, it can still pass the test of regular use in the coffee house, or home at night with your tablet.
The size of your hands will play a factor -- I always try to caveat my reviews by noting that my hands are on the smaller size, so mobile devices are often just as comfortable for me as their full-sized counterparts. But the slight curve of the Sculpt Mobile gives it an extra edge in the comfort category, and I think it would work well a tablet user who still prefers using a hard keyboard. Again, I do wish it had some snap-up feet to elevate it just a bit.
The Sculpt Mobile operates off two AAA batteries, and Microsoft says it has a 10-month battery life (which I was obviously was not able to verify). It also comes with an on/off switch to further extend its life.
The Bottom Line
When stacked up again, the Wedge Mobile, the Sculpt Mobile is a larger but more affordable travel keyboard for Windows 8 and Bluetooth devices. Even when you take out the Win8 bells and whistles, it remains a fairly priced, fairly comfortable Bluetooth keyboard with an impressive battery life promise.