A couple of weeks ago Microsoft gave us a sneak preview of a new keyboard they have in the pipeline - called the Ultimate Keyboard.
There's no hi-res image of the keyboard available just yet and we have to make do with what Microsoft showed us in a Flash movie (there's a link to the movie on this page). Here's an image of the Ultimate Keyboard:
Now I have to admit that it's a pretty sweet sounding keyboard and I can't wait to get my hands on one and take it for a spin. Here are some of the features that I particularly like:
- Back-lit keys
- Wireless with 30-foot range
- Wireless recharging
- Back-lit keys
- Loads of extra buttons to press
- Did I mention that it has back-lit keys?
OK, but take a closer look at the picture again. See something missing. Yep, that's right, there's no numerical keypad on they keyboard.
Now I have a real dilemma on my hands. Is a keyboard that has back-lit keys, 30-foot wireless range, wireless recharging and loads of extra buttons to press any good if it doesn't have a numerical keypad?
Hmmmm. I'm assuming that the keyboard uses a similar numerical keypad scheme as a laptop, where you press a function key to get access to a numerical pad integrated onto the main keyboard. I can't tell for sure because I can't see that in the image and my attempts at confirming this with Microsoft have been unsuccessful (basically everyone at Microsoft is keeping quiet). There's been quite a bit of buzz on websites, blogs and forums about that, and many people can't understand how a keyboard without a numerical pad can be classed as "ultimate".
If you’re not familiar with the numerical keypad, it’s often used for:
- Rapid entry of numerical data (eg. into a spreadsheet)
- Entering codes and controlling movement in gaming
- Entering extended characters (eg characters with accents and symbols that do no appear on the keyboard). In Windows these can only be entered using the number pad.
So, what do you think? Do you use the numerical keypad or is it just a waste of space? Would you buy a keyboard without a numerical keypad on it or would you give it a wide berth?