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Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard Review

Image courtesy of Microsoft

The Microsoft Wedge Mobile keyboard is sturdy, portable and boasts quite the sleek design. It’s a Bluetooth keyboard that is designed specifically to be used with Windows 8 devices, but it can still be used with other, non-Win8 Bluetooth-capable products as well. While it can be used with Apple devices, it does (unsurprisingly) drop a few of its features when doing so. But Android tablet and Windows 8 users will likely find this sleek keyboard and stand an extremely handy accessory.

At a Glance

The Good: Sleek, multi-purpose cover

The Bad: Cover shows dust and dirt easily

Installation

Setting up and installing the Wedge Mobile keyboard was completely painless. To install the included two AAA batteries, all you do is press down on the battery compartment door, which is located in the 0.5-inch-tall stand that props up the keyboard. This keyboard requires Bluetooth to operate, which is something that many tablets and computers have, but not all do. If your computer doesn't, you can pick up with a Bluetooth receiver (which is what I have done). It paired easily with my receiver for my Windows 7 laptop as well as with my iPhone 4S.

This is one example of how the Wedge Mobile is really designed specifically for newer devices. Nearly all tablets, laptops and Ultrabooks are now designed with built-in Bluetooth. Bluetooth allows you to have wireless peripherals without needing to hog one of your valuable USB ports. Or, as is the case with the iPad, it can be used with devices that don’t have any USB ports at all.

Design

The Wedge Mobile measures about 10 inches long by 4 inches high by 0.25 inches thick, when the attached stand isn't included. Taking the stand into account increases the thickness to about an inch.

It's an attractive keyboard, employing the same matte black and brushed-aluminum silver design that Microsoft uses for the Wedge Mobile mouse. It also feels quite sturdy, and I wouldn't fret about it not surviving a nose-dive from a Starbucks countertop.

Case

The keyboard comes with a flexible cover that has a soft-touch, black rubber covering. The cover is meant to serve several functions. For one thing, it snaps on neatly and easily to the keyboard as a protective cover for traveling. It doesn't form a perfect seal around it, but it does give it enough security should you wish to throw the keyboard in your bag.

Second, the cover immediately powers down the Wedge Mobile once you put it on. If you're constantly forgetting to make use of on/off switches, this is an extremely convenient feature. Since the green indicator light is very small and easy to miss, I imagine this will help a lot of people (present company included).

Finally, the cover serves double duty as a tablet stand. Its flexible body allows you to make minor adjustments for the viewing height of the tablet, but, in general, the de facto viewing height is designed for easy typing with the keyboard placed in front of it. I tested the stand with my 7-inch Kindle Fire, and I could position the tablet so that it worked in both landscape and portrait orientation. Unfortunately, I have the older Kindle Fire, which doesn't include built-in Bluetooth, so I was unable to test the keyboard with this tablet.

My only criticism of the case is that while it's soft to the touch, it picked up crumbs and dust like a magnet. They brushed off easily enough on the outside of the case, but it was extremely difficult to get them off on the inside. It did seem like a design flaw to then cover the keyboard with the dust- and crumb-covered case, where the debris was likely transferred into the device. But I think the only thing that will be truly hurt by this flaw is the keyboard's aesthetics, not its operation.

Speaking of Operation …

When it comes to mobile keyboards, something always needs to get dropped. Microsoft kept the size of the keys at a near-average 0.67 inches for the letter keys, with the space bar measuring about 3.75 inches. They are nearly flat (sometimes called chiclet keys, after the gum) with almost imperceptible spacing between them. There are six rows of keys, with the very top featuring hot keys, media keys and charm keys, the last of which are exclusive to Windows 8 use. As is custom with mobile keyboards, there is no separate number pad on the side.

It's a small keyboard, but I found it still comfortable enough to type with. To be clear, this isn't the best option for long-term daily use. If you toil away in a cube all day, you're going to want something full-sized with ergonomic curves. But since this is so clearly designed for the traveler, you can't expect these types of design details.

I have smaller hands, so I imagine that typing on it was a bit easier than for many. But if you simply can't get used to a touch screen, or if the touch screen is just not meeting your needs, you will likely be happy with the Wedge Mobile. It's small, but it's satisfying.

The Bottom Line

With a $79.99 MSRP, the Wedge Mobile keyboard is more than most Bluetooth travel keyboards, although not too much when you take into account the case/stand and Windows 8 functionality. It's truly this last detail that will make it stand out among the fray. If you don't care about the upcoming OS, however, you may want to look at some of its close competitors, including models from Logitech.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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