OK Microsoft, nice keyboard, but where's the numerical keypad?

OK Microsoft, nice keyboard, but where's the numerical keypad?

Summary: 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?

TOPICS: Hardware

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:

Microsoft 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?

Topic: Hardware

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  • Most people not in our accounting department

    in our company don't even have their NumLock buttons on. Despite the fact that the keys act exactly the same as the keys in between the main keys and the number pad when it's not on. So there will be a market for this keyboard.
    Michael Kelly
  • this is not for me

    I prefer a numeric keypad attached, its more natural for me to use one. i absolutely hate laptops for that reason (and touchpads). I've actually bought a USB numeric keypad for my laptop which worked immediately in Linux. I'm unable to install it on XP as it needs drivers (oh so dated) and they come on a floppy disk and my laptop doesn't have a floppy drive.
  • Oh, you mean the reason why I turn the NumLock off?

    But I get your point. I know lots of people who use the numeric keypad on a regular basis (I'm married to one) and I think MS would have a hard time getting them to give it up.

    We'll see...
    John L. Ries
  • In that case .....

    there had better be a numpad on the main keyboard ... and the number key markings had better glow in a different colour when the numlock key is on.
    • Now that would be sweet!

      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • What is the target audience?

    Fact: backlit keyboard
    Suggests: use in dark rooms

    Fact: wireless
    Suggests: not likely used at a workstation

    Fact: lots of "extra" buttons (I'm guessing multimedia related?)
    Suggests: not likely used at a workstation

    Everything about this keyboard suggests to me that it is targetted for media center PCs and [b]maybe[/b] for presentations. In both these examples, a number pad is almost totally uneccessary and size (or at least portability) is an issue. While the pictures do make it look like the keyboard is [b]not[/b] optimized for size (something I would personally prefer), the added bulk of a keypad would make this keyboard even less acceptible for the uses I've suggested. I don't think Excel data entry clerks are the reason this keyboard is being produced, therefore I don't belive the lack of a number pad will be any hindrance at all.
    • Damn ....

      I think you may be right there ... :-|
    • No numeric keypad

      Can someone post the names/models of some keyboards without numeric keypads? I have a wrist problem and I'd like to try a keyboard that is 'shorter' to see if it releives some of the stress. I work for an accounting firm and they can't believe I don't use it.

  • Numeric keypad

    Don't care; I have no use for a numeric keypad. I've been a computer professional for a gazillion years, and if all the numeric keypads fell off the face of the earth I wouldn't notice. They just eat up deskspace. Nice keyboard. I'll buy one if they have a Bluetooth version.
    • For all I use them for ...

      ... I feel much the same way. Let's jsut say taht it's never the numerical keypad that wears out on my keyboards!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • No numeric keypad

    I also have been looking for a keypad without a numeric keypad, as that's ergonomically more correct than a conventional keypad. I have a shoulder condition, so that my right arm has to be perfectly straight when using the mouse (I have been putting my mouse pad on top of the numeric pad in order to compensate it). If anyone has such list, it would be a great help.
    • Keyboard


      If I find something, I'll let you know. Could you let me know if you find something?


      • Keyboard sans num pad.

        I've been testing out the Scorpius K3NT NetMedia keyboard.

        It's a full keyboard without the numeric keypad. The navigational keys are squished along the right side, like a laptop del home, pgu, pgdn, end and right arrow all vertically positioned. So that takes some getting used to.

        The keys are flatter (like a mac keyboard), so my fingernails get in the way, sometimes. There's a Fn key to the left of the left ctrl key, and I've been hitting that accidentally. This causes the keys to perform their function keys and is confusing the first time it happens. Then it just becomes annoying.

        There's a mouse at the top right of the keyboard. It's not as speedy as a regular mouse - even at the highest speed it moves just okay. I like my mouse a bit speedier. There are 3 mouse keys at the top left of the keyboard that perform click, right-click and a middle button that brings up a small menu onscreen. The menu items include icons for launching your browser, mail, a screen magnifier, cd player, media player, file manager, control panel, shut down, dos, a calculator and, most importantly, one for scrolling. Clicking on the scroll icon brings up an image that shows you the direction of your scroll. It works like clicking the scroll wheel on a mouse. Just click that middle button again to end the scroll. Pretty easy, but a different physical memory is needed to get used to it. I keep grabbing for my mouse, or reaching down for the rollerbar I use at work. :P

        There are buttons on the top of the keyboard as well that duplicate the actions of the icons from the middle button click. There are also media controls (volume, pause/play, fwd/back, volume, etc.).

        I have the USB keyboard and it comes in a wireless version, too. Overall, it's okay, but the flat buttons don't allow much fingerplay. I'm a touch typist, so having to keep looking down or correct errors is not efficient for me. I suppose if you're a mac user this won't be a problem. I'm going to keep searching.
  • RE: OK Microsoft, nice keyboard, but where's the numerical keypad?

    THIS is the keyboard I've been waiting for all my life!!!!!! WHEN and WHERE can I get one???
  • RE: OK Microsoft, nice keyboard, but where's the numerical keypad?

    At last - a decent keyboard without a numerical key-pad!!
    As someone who mainly uses my PC for writing documents, e-mail and numerouse web-based applications (but using mostly mouse and QWERTY keys) I have been searching for a keyboard with out numeric pad. I find the pad forces me to use my mouse/trackball uncomfortably far out to the right.
    I am an engineer, and have NEVER used the numeric keypad in 17 years of full-time desk-top PC use, and 30 years of technical computer use.

    I have seen some keyboards with a separate numeric keypad, but I did not find the overall layour and feel of the keys suited me. I wanted a "standard" soft-touch keyboard but without the numeric keypad.

    Maybe our accountants and cost-engineers would feel differently, but all of my numerous colleagues also do not use the numeric pad (and many use their laptop as their main keyboard anyway).

    For me this is a winner!!
  • RE: OK Microsoft, nice keyboard, but where's the numerical keypad?

    For me, the numeric key pad is there just to waste space and bothers me. I wish there would be keypad-less versions of other natural keyboards!!!

    Excellet idea to get rid of that numeric key pad!!!
  • RE: OK Microsoft, nice keyboard, but where's the numerical keypad?

    Finally! I've been yearning for a decent, desktop sized, keyboard WITHOUT a numeric keypad. Numeric keypads are the things most responsible for RSI, because you have to dodge it between typing on the 'main' part of the keyboard and swinging your wrist and arm over to move the mouse. Then you are subconsciously constrained in moving the mouse by the obstacle in the way that is the numeric keypad - which gets in the way of what would be the natural sweep of your arm and wrist. Basically, the natural horizontal sweep of a mouse for an average adult is comfortably from, at the left-hand edge, just to the right of the 'Page Up' and 'Page Down' keys, and to the right-hand edge, the same distance away FROM the 'Page Up' and 'Page Down' keys, 'arm-wise', as your left arm has to move in order to press the L.H. Shift Key, Caps Lock or Tab.

    I've been trying to find one to ask my employer to get for me in order to reduce RSI to ALARP.

    Who *needs* a numeric keypad in this day and age anyway? Not me - and I have performed high volume data entry for years.