There is no denying the fact that we are becoming an increasingly mobile society.
In fact data from StatCounter, which I highlighted in a recent post, showed that between Aug 2013 to Aug 2014 mobile browsing increased 67%.
During that same period desktop browsing dropped over 13%.
Of course most of that mobile browsing is done using the phone or tablets touch screen and on screen keyboard. However, there is something to be said for having a keyboard handy when you want to type a few more words than your typical tweet contains.
Microsoft recently announced their new Universal Mobile Keyboard and what is unique about this device, besides its predicted 6 months of battery life on a single charge, is that it can be used with Windows, Android and iOS devices.
There is a small switch to select which type of device you want to connect with.
I easily paired it with a Samsung Galaxy S4 and used it to compose a tweet and also paired it to my Surface 2 in just a few seconds.
The keyboard does have arrow keys to move the cursor around on the screen of the various devices but it lacks any kind of trackpad so that you can move the cursor to buttons and other interface elements to replace touching or a tapping.
Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with using both keyboard and touch together – in fact I find you completely readapt your work flow when a touch screen is introduced and is used in conjunction with a keyboard and/or a mouse. Some things are just faster to do with touch.
The keyboard cover doubles as the On/Off switch and it also provides you with a slot that a phone or tablet can be placed in to hold it upright (see my shot above of the Galaxy S4 in use). That cover uses a magnetic connection to the keyboard so it is very easy to remove and use with it setting a little farther away from the keyboard if necessary.
The keyboard boasts six months worth of battery life and can be charged with the included Micro USB cord.
Ultimately, I can see the value in a small compact keyboard like this for quick burst session of writing but it is simply too small for me and my large hands. I ended up hitting wrong keys on a regular basis. I thought the Microsoft Wedge Keyboard was small but it is a limo compared to this one.
Don’t get me wrong – it is still a very solid product and will very likely work well for many folks who read this – it is just too small for me.
The official features list from Microsoft:
- Designed for iPad, iPhone, Android devices and Windows tablets: The OS switch allows you to work seamlessly across iOS, Android and Windows without sacrificing on functionality,1 and to pair up to three devices with different operating systems at the same time.
- Integrated stand: The multipurpose cover includes an integrated stand for your smartphone or tablet.1
- Easy on/easy off: Just flip the cover open to power up and connect. Shutdown is just as fast. Close the cover to power down the device and then confidently stow it in your bag.
- Protective shell: The self-enclosed protective shell eliminates the need for and clutter of an extra carrying case.
- Detachable cover/stand: The cover with integrated stand can easily be detached, allowing you to position your device in a more comfortable position.
- Rechargeable battery: The rechargeable battery provides up to six months of usage on a single charge.
The Microsoft Universal Mobile keyboard is already available for $79.95 from the Microsoft Store and other retailers.