As you may recall, back at the Microsoft Event in NYC, Microsoft unveiled the Surface Studio. While Surface Studio is impressive on its own as a stand-alone device, Microsoft coupled it with a series of new Surface-branded accessories, including Surface Dial, Surface Keyboard, and Surface Mouse. It has been a while since these accessories first went on sale, and I managed to pick up the Surface Bluetooth Keyboard over the past holiday. After using the Surface Keyboard accessory for about a month, here are my thoughts.
Comparison, Design, and Typing Experience:
Keyboards can come cheap these days, and you can easily find a decent Bluetooth keyboard on Amazon for anywhere between 20 and 50 dollars. Unfortunately, Microsoft's Surface Keyboard is priced at $99.99, and while I must say that this is the right accessory for a Surface or Windows 10 device, it also comes at a high price, with excellent design and a great typing experience.
To begin, I must mention that I'm accustomed to using Apple's full-sized Wired Keyboard on my secondary Windows 10 device, which is a Mac Mini with a Windows partition. Unlike Apple's fulled sized offering, however, Microsoft's Surface Keyboard ditches the wires and the white and aluminum finish for Bluetooth 4.0 technology and a meticulously Surface inspired and crafted design.
Right out of the box, Microsoft fans will notice that the Surface Keyboard features the same soft gray finish and sleek and simple design which is expected from something branded as "Surface." Though this keyboard is not as heavy as the Apple Wired keyboard, this design is the main reason why I was quick to purchase, as it simply feels good, and looks good on my desk.
Of course, a keyboard is more for typing than it is for eye candy, so I must mention that typing experience with the Surface Keyboard is truly amazing. While the keys on Apple's keyboard are more soft and "clicky," Microsoft opted for more solid materials on the Surface Keyboard. Keeping with the same chicklet-style layout seen on Apple's offerings, the keys on the Surface Keyboard are heavier and have a nice solid click when typing.
Unlike more common compact Bluetooth keyboards, there also is some nice travel space between the keys, which means that in most instances you won't be pressing more than one button at the same time while typing. I've also noticed that the keys on the Surface Keyboard have a nice slippery feel to them, meaning your fingers will glide easily between keys as you type. Personally, this makes typing faster for me, since my fingers can move to one key to the other with ease, but I do get upset at how easily the slippery keys can attract finger oils and dirt.
Everyday use, and other tidbits:
Another reason why I love this Keyboard is the fact that it just fits right with everyday uses for both Surface and Windows 10. The keyboard has a raised back right where the battery compartment sits, and thanks to a slim profile, it can easily be stored in a big enough draw if deemed necessary.
Once I popped out the back and put in the batteries ( 2 AAA alkaline batteries included in box) I never once had to worry about turning it on, or pairing it back to my Surface. Microsoft promises that you will experience 12 months of battery life on this keyboard, and judging from my 2-month experience so far, I think this will hold up to be true. For those who like the little things, it's also worth noting that removing batteries is fun and simple since the battery cover magnetically attaches to the rear of the keyboard. This, though, might be a problem if you're using the keyboard on your lap, which I would not recommend.
Unlike some other Bluetooth Keyboards, the Surface Keyboard recognizes when you're not using it for a long period of time and automatically powers off. Over the last few months of use, I have noticed that when I turn my Surface Pro 4 off for the day, the Keyboard automatically disconnects and shows no activity on the indicator lights on the "FN" and "Caps" or other function keys. This saves the pain of having to slide a power on and off switch everytime you're done working for the day.
Again, for those who like the small things, there is also a small indicator light above the arrow keys, which you will rarely see except for when you're initially pairing the keyboard with your device. I think it is cool how Microsoft kept the indicators to a minimum, as the indicator lights seen on other keyboards can be distracting when working under high stress.
Being a daily Surface Pro 4 user, I must also mention my special appreciation for the function keys which Microsoft has included on the keyboard. Some may not use these keys a lot, but if you're a power user like me, these keys can save lots of time. From left to right, running along the top are keys for volume, media control, brightness controls, and search.
I express extra appreciation for Windows 10 specific keys such as dedicated keys for Task View, Project, Settings, Calculator, Notification Center, and Lock, since they give me access to the functions I use the most frequently on my Surface Pro 4. Of course, I also am a fan of the number pad on the Surface Keyboard, since it makes crunching numbers in Excel much easier.
I do, however, think it would be more interesting to see if Microsoft could have cut the keyboard in half and sold the keypad as a separate accessory. The Redmond giant could have capitalized on having both a mini Bluetooth Surface Keyboard and also a full sized keyboard. This would have easily doubled profits and extended the use of the Keyboard to more mobile circumstances (perhaps with Surface Phone?)
At the end of the day, if you're willing to shell out $100 for a keyboard that pairs and looks fancy with your Surface then this is something for you. If you're not, you could rather invest your money in the similar sized and less premium plastic Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop Keyboard and Mice combo. The Surface Keyboard still packs an awesome design and a great typing experience and it's truly worth the money. It's not to say that it doesn't have its shortfalls, though, since I tend to sometimes press the "Insert" key which is placed so close to the backspace key, ultimately causing overwritten text when I am typing up a storm. But that's is just one small rare problem with a Keyboard that will spice up your Surface and your life.