We first saw Microsoft’s Arc keyboard way back in January, at CES, before its eventual release a few months ago. With a light feel and chiclet key style, the Arc keyboard is ideal for those wanting an unobtrusive, wireless keyboard with a small form factor.
The small form factor of the Microsoft Arc keyboard certainly helps it look good – even sitting next to my Apple keyboard – although it does have a few drawbacks. In my original preview of the Arc Keyboard, I noted the lack of a dedicated number pad, although this is the case with many wireless keyboards on the market.
Unfortunately, the lack of dedicated arrow keys could be a problem for many users. When selecting items with the arrow keys on the keyboard, using the all-in-one arrow key takes some getting used to. Even after using it for a month, I still have some problems using it accurately.
As indicated by the name, the Arc keyboard curves on top, making it more comfortable to type on when compared with a standard keyboard. Of course, any keyboard takes some time to get used to, and after using the Arc Keyboard for a few days, I was typing comfortably without any errors. Those hoping to type with the keyboard on their laps may be slightly disappointed to see that the bottom of the keyboard is flat, so it doesn’t sit easily on the lap.
I was pleasantly surprised by the compatibility of the Arc Keyboard. I tested it using both Windows 7 and Mac OS X, and it was fully compatible with OS X as well as Windows. Surprisingly, even the volume up/down keys worked without any issues on my Mac Mini, which is rare to see with non-Apple keyboards.
Available from around £35, the Microsoft Arc keyboard is a good option for light use and would look good being used with a home media centre PC setup, although I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re managing spreadsheets for a living due to the lack of dedicated arrow keys.