Microsoft Surface Keyboard – Review

Microsoft’s new Surface Keyboard was finally released into the Canadian store and I’ve been lucky enough to get one on trial, which I’ve been testing for the past few weeks.

It’s a bluetooth (v4.0) keyboard, styled after Microsoft’s Surface (Pro, Book and Studio) devices. In fact this is the same keyboard that comes bundled with the new Surface Studio All in One.

Microsoft has another Surface Keyboard available in the US, the Surface Ergonomic Keyboard, but that one hasn’t made it to Canada yet.


The keyboard body is made from the familiar ‘Surface’ brushed aluminium and has light grey lettering on Dark Grey, plastic, buttons.  It is very similar to Microsoft’s ‘Designer Bluetooth Desktop’ keyboard but most people will probably recognize the obvious similarity to Apple’s iMac (wired) keyboards.
Personally I think the slightly darker styling of the Surface Keyboard is more pleasing on the eye – but that’s just me.

Apple Wired Keyboard shown on top, Surface Keyboard shown on Bottom
This is the Designer Bluetooth Desktop Keyboard and Mouse

I did previously try the ‘Designer Bluetooth Desktop’ kit, but the mouse was too small and flat for me ( I do have big hands) so although I really liked the keyboard, I decided I couldn’t live with the mouse so I didn’t buy it.

The Surface Keyboard doesn’t come with a mouse, but a similarly styled mouse is available in the same design as the ‘Designer Bluetooth Desktop’  one – but based on my previous experience with that mouse I won’t bother testing one of those!

Surface Mouse

I use a Surface Book as my primary work device, I travel a lot so I’m very familiar with the keyboard.
When docked I use a Microsoft ‘Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop’ keyboard and mouse.

I really like both these keyboards and am equally happy typing on either of them.

 

I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get used to the external Surface Keyboard  – but i shouldn’t have worried, within a few hours i was tapping out reports and code as quickly as ever.


I’m not a touch typist, so I didn’t compare my actual typing speed and I’m not a fan of ‘clicky’ keyboards with lots of key travel either. So, for me, this keyboard was a great balance of key size, travel and feel. If you used and like Apple Keyboards, then you will be right at home with this one. In fact that was one of the benefits of using this keyboard, I switch between Windows and Apple devices regularly throughout my day so having a consistent keyboard experience was a real pro – but I admit that’s a pretty niche requirement 🙂

It is beautiful

I can tell you that I was very happy with the typing experience overall. This keyboard is as good as any I have tried.
I was slightly disappointed that the keys are dark plastic and aren’t styled like the metallic ones on the Book and I really wanted backlighting. On the other hand I liked that the Surface Keyboard has screen brightness controls on the function keys (something lacking from the Book), an integrated numeric keypad is useful and I found that the dark keys on the Surface Keyboard hide dirt and grime much better than the white ones on Apple keyboards.

But the real appeal of this device is the styling, it is gorgeous ! Panos and his team are releasing beautifully designed Windows products and this one is no exception, it’s a stunning design and is a welcome deviation from the usual black plastic rectangle’s most people use as a keyboard.

Ultimately though, keyboards are a deeply personal experience and what works for one person doesn’t work for another. So your mileage may vary with this device.
I was really (really) tempted to keep this as my desktop keyboard, but for me the price was a little steep ($129 CAD, ouch !) so it’s definitely not an impulsive buy. Together with the lack of backlighting and my (ever so slight) preference for an ergonomic layout mean I’ll be, reluctantly, sending this one back.
I’ll be sad to see it go because I really, really did like it. If I didn’t prefer ergonomic keyboards then this is the keyboard I would use…… but ! I’ve recently seen the new Surface Ergonomic Keyboard with Alcantara and that’s the one I think may be my ultimate keyboard ! So I’m eagerly awaiting it’s arrival here in Canada.

Pros

  • Beautiful Design
  • Great Typing Experience
  • Screen Brightness controls

Cons

  • No Backlight
  • Expensive

Links

Buy the Surface Keyboard from the Canadian Store – $116.99

 

Other Devices Mentioned in the review

Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop – $134.95

Surface Mouse – $58.49

Designer Bluetooth Desktop – $89.95

 


Update

The Surface Ergonomic Keyboard is now in the Microsoft Store, Canada  !
Oh no my poor wallet !

https://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msca/en_CA/pdp/Surface-Ergonomic-Keyboard/productID.5089391200

 

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