Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard
Microsoft hardware goes one of two ways: it's either mind-blowingly good, or something that isn't fit to keep a door open on a windy day. Keyboards are no exception, and when you find a good Microsoft keyboard, it will be with you for a long time. Our last one, for example, only got retired because there are no longer PS2 ports on computers and we fancied going wireless.
Of course, the flip side is that some of the stuff we've tried hasn't been up to much at all. Some of the very expensive mice the firm makes are agony to use for a long time, and the touch-sensitive models of late have been very much hit or miss, but our Laser Mouse 6000 has been serving us well for more than five years now.
So when the Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard arrived, we didn't know if we should break out the party supplied, or the Russian roulette kit.
First impressions were good though. This isn't a cheap keyboard at £80 - for that money you could buy a lot of very cool typing interfaces.
But the Wedge Keyboard IS very cool. It's tiny, about half the overall size of a 10-inch tablet and made out of solid materials. It has a very nice weight, and a feeling that it will last a long time.
It's powered by a couple of AAA batteries. These slide into the bump on the bottom, which also acts as a stand to raise the keyboard slightly. It's a good system, and it keeps the price of replacement batteries down to a minimum.
Included in your £80 box is the keyboard, a set of AAA batteries and a cover. We didn't pay much attention to the cover at first. It certainly looks useful for keeping the keyboard safe when you're out and about, but we assumed that was the end of the story.
A quick look at the back of the box though, and we soon realised that actually there's a little more going on here than we assumed. First, the cover is able to switch off the keyboard when it's attached, which should help save some power as well as prevent unwanted typing when it's supposed to be resting.
Second, the cover can be bent into a variety of shapes. The idea here is that you can use it to support your tablet device. It forms what is, basically, an impromptu stand. We had a play and found it to be very impressive. Sure, it's not a new trick, but Microsoft has made the case feel like it will last forever, which, for this price you'd jolly well hope.
This review is not written on the Wedge Keyboard, if it were then it might look something like this: teh acucracy of the WEdge for typign is n9t al; thay brill;iant. That's because the Wedge's smallish keys and compact size don't make for a brilliant high-speed typing implement.
On the go, where size is more important, you can make it work a little better by slowing down. This is fine, and of course any physical keyboard is an order of magnitude better than an on-screen keyboard. Although, there's a lot to be said for the auto-correct you'll get on most devices these days.
Where we most liked the Wedge keyboard was at home, as a device to use with our media centre PC. Here it makes perfect sense. It's little bigger than a remote control, and it gives you full access to your computer's functions. Plus, if you're running Windows 8, it's even more useful, as the Charms keys all work, giving you some handy shortcuts to features such as search.
We do very much like the Wedge Keyboard. It's beautifully designed, and very well made. The cover is a superb idea, and the size makes it ideal as a travel companion for your Android tablet, iPad or, when they launch, your Windows RT device.
The problem is the price. Despite the fact that it's clearly very well engineered, we honestly can't see ourselves being prepared to pay more than £30 for it. And even that's a bit on the steep side. Although we're sure there will be price reductions, this is still a ludicrously expensive keyboard.
The price, combined with the poor high-speed typing mean that we can't give the Wedge a particularly high score. We liked it, but not enough to actually spend our own money on it. That's not to say it doesn't have uses, and we do love that stunning build quality and design.