Everyone has a preference when it comes to keyboards. I know I do. I’m a long time user of Logitech’s Solar K750 (USB) and K760 (Bluetooth) keyboards and I’m very happy with them. While the materials used in their construction are primarily plastic, they are sleek, well-crafted keyboards and I don’t have to worry about changing the batteries in the short term.
Although it doesn’t have a fully extended keyboard layout, the Logitech K760 is one of my personal favourites. I can connect it with any one of 3 devices and switch between them with the simple press of a function key. One keyboard for my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro.
The profiles of all the Logitech Solar keyboards are minimal and rival those of any competitor. Lightweight, thin, and battery-free. With all this praise for Logitech’s keyboards, you may be wondering why I decided to take a look at the Microsoft Surface keyboard.
As I’ve said many times before, there’s always a better way and more than one solution. I watched and read a number of compelling reviews of Microsoft’s Surface Keyboard. One reviewer claims he was typing at 105 words per minute and can now type up to 130 words per minute consistently. The reviewer also states the keys are quieter.
Aside from the minimalistic design of the keyboard, faster and quieter were two key (no pun intended) points that sparked my interest to find out just how good this keyboard is. I’m not a fan of battery powered keyboards but the benefit of having a quieter and more efficient typing experience may be worth the compromise. I decided to take a closer look at the Microsoft Surface keyboard.
The footprint of the Microsoft Surface keyboard is minimal (420.90 mm x 112.60 mm x 19.30 mm high), requiring only enough space to accommodate the extended keyboard layout. The keyboard’s Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology has a range of 7 to 15 meters, depending on your location, and makes connecting to your computer quick and easy.
Setting up the keyboard
Remove the keyboard from the box and remove the plastic ribbon that extends from under the magnetic battery cap on the rear of the keyboard. The battery cover is easily removed by pulling it away from the keyboard.
To pair the keyboard with your computer, simply press the “Bluetooth” button on the left end of the rear support bar for at least 3 seconds. A flashing light will appear above the “up arrow” key indicating the keyboard is ready to pair with your computer.
On your computer, go to Windows Settings and select “Devices – Bluetooth, printers, mouse”. Click on the Bluetooth option and, when the “Manage Bluetooth devices” screen appears, click on the “Microsoft Surface Keyboard” icon. Using the Microsoft Surface keyboard, enter the password that appears on the screen. Once paired, the keyboard’s device driver software installs automatically and the keyboard is ready to use.
The angle of the keyboard, key spacing, and key travel make this keyboard quite comfortable to use. The key tops are relatively flat compared to my Logitech K750, but the fingers settle quite nicely as they should. Of course, your typing speed depends on your typing skills and ultimately how fast you can move your fingers.
Did my typing performance improve? I tested my typing speed using an online speed test and there was no measurable difference when using the Microsoft Surface keyboard or the Logitech K750 or K760 keyboards.
Finger movement across the keyboard is fluid though slightly more effort is required to strike the keys as compared to my Logitech keyboards. The difference is slight and may be less noticeable as I become accustomed to using this new keyboard.
Is the keyboard quieter? The tone of the key presses on the Microsoft Surface keyboard is lower pitched and the keys don’t “clack” as much when compared to my Logitech keyboards. This may also be a factor of the keyboard’s inherent resonance by design and the materials used in its construction.
The keyboard feels solid thanks to the aluminum top and full-length contact between the base of the keyboard and my desk. A full-length rubber grip strip under the front of the keyboard and two shorter length grip strips along the rear support bar prevent the keyboard from slipping and also serve to prevent scratching your desktop.
The keyboard is not backlit but shift indicator lights appear on the Fn, Caps, ScrLk, and NumLk keys. My fingers know their way around a keyboard so backlighting isn’t an issue and the “F” and “J” keys have small raised bars making the “home row” easy to find.
The “Fn” key makes it easy to toggle or set which function key features are active. When the light is on, the function keys behave normally as F1 … F12. When the light is off, the “icon” features become the active function key behaviour.
The insert key does not have a shift state indicator light and there are times I wish it did. Most software applications will change the shape or size of the cursor to indicate whether you are inserting or overwriting text, however, this is not always the case. I really can’t complain because other keyboards lack this feature as well.
The only concerns I have with the Microsoft Surface keyboard – at this time anyway – have to do with the power source. I don’t like batteries due to their potential impact on the environment. The Microsoft Surface keyboard is powered by two ‘AAA’ batteries that, according to the box, will last at least 12 months.
If the power source is limited by design, the least Microsoft could do is follow the footsteps of others like Apple or Logitech and provide a power status indicator. Always having to carry spare batteries is another of my pet peeves with portable with keyboards.
There is no disclaimer as to the type of batteries that can be used, so rechargeable batteries may be an option. A USB charging port to an internal battery may even prove to be a better option in the long run.
I knew the keyboard didn’t have the best of power options when I bought it so I really can’t spend a lot of time festering over it. However, considering the price of this keyboard, I was expecting more.
At $129.99 CAD the Microsoft keyboard carries a hefty price tag and is considerably more expensive than Logitech’s keyboards selling in the $75-$80.00 CAD range.
Overall, I’m quite impressed with the construction of the Microsoft Surface keyboard and intend to keep using it – at least until the batteries run out. As for the price, I find it relatively steep when compared to my Logitech keyboards and the performance is not necessarily worth the extra money.
The Microsoft Surface keyboard does not deliver the value for the money when other “as capable” keyboards are available at much lower prices.
Related Articles and Resources
Typing Trainer – 100% Free Online Typing Tutor for Everyone
Microsoft Surface Keyboard Review – My New Favourite – The Tech Chap (Video)
Hands-On with Microsoft Surface Keyboard and Surface Ergonomic Keyboard – The Mac Observer (Video)