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Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard is the best in class (review)

Written by James Kendrick on

Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard

$299.95 at Amazon
  • Key spacing and tactile feedback first-rate
  • Multi-platform support
  • Detachable stand
  • Two viewing angles
  • Reasonable price
  • None
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard is the best in class (review)

Using a tablet or a phone to get work done is much easier when a capable keyboard is added to the slate. These come in several forms, from cases designed to work with a particular tablet to those used separately from the device with the display. The Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard is of the latter type, and works with iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

As a writer, I find that a mobile keyboard must meet three criteria to be a viable solution for working with tablets. It must have a keyboard that facilitates rapid touch typing. It must be comfortable doing this while writing thousands of words. Lastly, it must be small enough to carry with the iPad Air 2 when traipsing all over town.

All about typing

The mobile keyboard from Microsoft meets all three requirements.

The mechanical operation feels natural when typing, a product of the key spacing, large keys, and width of the keyboard. The experience rivals that of many laptops, at least those with nice keyboards. The keys on the Microsoft model go all the way to the edge of the unit, which is as wide as the iPad.

Microsoft uses dedicated keys for the tablet control functions that are commonly found on keyboards, e.g. Home, Back, volume controls. This is great, as it means there is no need for using the Fn key in combination with another key to control the tablet.

There is a small power button on the right edge of the unit, although the keyboard turns on when the lid is opened. There are two rubber strips on the bottom of the keyboard unit that keep it from moving, even on a relatively slippery surface.

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Making a case

The Microsoft Universal Mobile keyboard comes with a lid that protects the unit in transport and becomes an outstanding stand for the tablet once opened. A white LED blinks when the lid is opened and the unit is powered on; this LED turns red when the battery is low. Charging is done via the included microUSB cable and according to Microsoft a quick charge can be done in 10 minutes while a full charge requires 90 minutes.

I've been using it heavily with the iPad Air 2 which the case handles well. The iPad fits in a slot behind the keys which provides two viewing angles. One of the angles is very steep which comes in handy at times. The lid is so stable it can be used in the lap while attached to the keyboard, and the iPad can fit in the slot wearing a thin case. The two viewing angles also work with the iPad Air 2 inserted in portrait orientation, which is uncommon for most mobile solutions.

This keyboard can be used with iOS, Android, and Windows devices and has a slider to select the desired one. Selecting an OS pairs the keyboard with the last device on that platform that was used with the keyboard.

You can detach the keyboard from the stand for positioning the tablet further back if desired. The two parts cleverly attach with magnets, making it easy to detach and attach. While I mostly use it with the iPad attached to the keyboard, occasionally it's useful to separate the two pieces and move the tablet further back.

Love this keyboard

In a short time the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard has become my favorite out of the dozens I've used. I've tested it with the iPad mini and the iPhone 6 Plus, and it's just as good with those devices.

I rarely recommend a device but have no problem doing so with the Microsoft keyboard. It's not just good for typing, it's a real writer's keyboard. I consider the $65 I paid on Amazon to be a great investment for my work.

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