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Microsoft Arc Keyboard Review

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Microsoft Arc Keyboard Review

Image courtesy of Microsoft

The Microsoft Arc Keyboard is the perfect complement to its sister product, the Arc Mouse. It’s elegant and would make a fashionable accessory to any computer that lives in a public spot in the home. Unfortunately, unlike the Arc Mouse, the Arc Keyboard isn’t a very good bet for long-term usage.

At a Glance

The Good: Lovely design, easily portable, non-slip feet

The Bad:

Keyboard’s curve = longer learning curve, single-arrow key takes some getting used to

Design

Like the Arc Mouse, the Arc Keyboard’s primary focus is to look good. It features glossy-black edges (which, unfortunately, show fingerprints easily) and measures less than an inch thick. The keyboard curves slightly so that it’s raised in the middle, and four rubber feet keep the device from sliding around your desk.

Performance

Keeping in theme with lightness and portability (I could balance the keyboard on two fingers), the Arc is wireless and uses a 2.4GHz nano receiver. It also features what I consider to be essential when dealer with nano receivers -- a receiver placeholder. The underside of the Arc Keyboard has a slot that magnetically holds the receiver when you’re not using it.

You naturally couldn’t have a (functional) keyboard this small and this light without cutting a few keys, and that’s what Microsoft has done. The F keys only go up to F6, although you can get up to F12 with the CTRL key. It does include mute, volume up and volume down keys -- a nice touch for such a small keyboard.

The key (or lack thereof) that takes the most getting used to is the arrow keys. Microsoft has replaced the four up/down/left/right arrow keys with a single key. You are supposed to press on the side of the key that you want the cursor to move (i.e. press on the left side of the key for left). It’s not the most comfortable way to do it, and it can be downright frustrating if you are accustomed to using the arrow keys for highlighting text.

Likewise, the slope of the Arc Keyboard takes some getting used to. I found my fingers often left the “home position” of “asdf” and “jkl;”, and I had to frequently readjust them. When I needed to type something extremely important (a bank password, for example), I resorted to two-finger typing -- a major drawback for any keyboard.

Bottom Line

The Arc Keyboard is a pretty little thing, and it would make an attractive addition to a seldom-used computer or netbook. If you’re looking for a keyboard for everyday computing, however, I would stick with a full-sized version.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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