Hands-on review: Microsoft Arc wireless keyboard

Microsoft's Arc keyboard has been on sale for some time, but here's an additional hands-on review in case you're in the market for a new wireless keyboard.

Microsoft's Arc keyboard has been on sale for some time, but here's an additional hands-on review in case you're in the market for a new wireless keyboard.

SET-UP

Just like with the Arc mouse, the Arc keyboard is incredibly easy to set-up. Compatible with both Mac and Windows, the Arc connects to the computer using a USB nano transceiver with 2.4GHz wireless technology. The Arc is powered by a pair of AAA batteries that are included in the box. There is a little indicator light on the top right of the keyboard that will shine when the battery is low, but since the included batteries were brand new and wrapped in plastic, I never saw it.

Once all of that is installed, a message will pop up on the screen of your computer asking for a couple commands to identify the proper model. That was completed in three clicks, and I was on my way.

USE

First off, this keyboard is incredibly light - a dream for anyone who wants to move the keyboard from room to room or when traveling for whatever reason. There's also no lag time whatsoever. It operates like the keyboard was connected via wire. All of the keys matched with most of my existing commands already, such as volume control and page up/down. However, many of the function keys are different since I tested this with a Mac and not a PC. but they should be compatible and customizable with any computer as long as the operating system is supported.

However, there were a few things that take getting used to. The most obvious thing right away was the arc design. This is obvious given the name, but the structure isn't like a traditional keyboard. This was especially notable when typing keys in the numbers row at the top. Even though the order is the same, the backspace key feels much farther away, so I kept typing "-=-=-=" or something to that effect when trying to delete.

Furthermore, there's a single button at the bottom right corner that addresses all directions. If you want to use this key, you have to pay more attention than you would with a standard keyboard. However, it's not that difficult really, and given the benefits of having an ultra-lightweight keyboard without wires, these little things can be overcome and overlooked eventually. To prove it, I typed this entire article using the Arc keyboard.

AVAILABILITY

The Microsoft Arc keyboard is available now for $59.95 in both black and white, the latter of which will fit nicely with the Xbox 360 if you have one. Note that it is available cheaper from a few other retailers, such as Amazon and Buy.com.

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