A few weeks back we looked at a really great keyboard from Microsoft, the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard. That wasn’t as mobile a keyboard as some users may like, but there is one really great solution for tablet/mobile users that Microsoft is putting out as well: the Wedge Mobile Keyboard. Unlike the Wedge Touch Mouse, the Wedge Mobile is a really smartly-built and very comfortable device to use, whether you’re on Windows 8 or not. In fact, it’s helping me look slightly more pretentious in coffee shops, using a tablet and the Wedge Mobile instead of a MacBook.
Not, mind you, that they gave me a second look.
The Wedge Mobile keyboard is 10.1″ long, which should sound familiar: it matches the basic form-factor of most full-size tablets, with the notable exception of the iPad. It’s designed from the ground up to work for a tablet, and not just by throwing a Bluetooth receiver in. The cover that snaps on is designed to comfortably be held on a tablet, and then it folds in half to act as a stand for any sized tablet (and even large smartphones).
Interestingly, a number of upcoming Windows 8 tablets will release at 11.6″. That additional 1.5″ shouldn’t make carrying the Wedge Mobile with larger tablets a problem, though they won’t be a perfect fit together.
Then there’s the basic keyboard design, which is somewhat cramped but also very comfortable to type on, especially compared to most competing travel keyboards. The keys have very solid typing weight and are clicky enough for rubberized keys to make them feel good to type on. It is by no means a spacious keyboard, but the keys are large and flat, and they’re easy to adjust to after a few minutes of use. For tablets, it proves to be extremely capable, though it remains a step down from more traditional wireless keyboards that lack the compactness and typing experience of less mobile keyboards.
As a compact keyboard, the Wedge Mobile is really spectacular. When I met with Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., they showed me exactly why the design is the way it is, and I have to agree that it is smart and useful. The elevated back acts as a grip when carrying a tablet and the keyboard, houses the AAA batteries and sync buttons, and keeps the Wedge at a good angle for typing. The battery tray isn’t removable, but opens up enough to place the batteries so there’s minimal user error and mechanical movement. There’s no on/off switch; a sensor in the keyboard recognizes when the keyboard cover is on, and shuts off automatically.
For non-Windows devices like Android or iOS, the Wedge Mobile works very well, though some of the functions won’t work instantly. Like the Sculpt Mobile, the Wedge makes the traditional function keys (F1-F12) secondary in place of media controls, Win8 functions, and other keyboard commands like printscreen, home, etc. I’ve used the Wedge with the iPad, ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T, and even the iPhone. It’s easy to pair and comfortable to use, especially when the alternative is using a virtual keyboard and if the workspace is fairly confined. In coffeeshops and small offices I found the Wedge to be an excellent keyboard to use.
What makes the Wedge Mobile Keyboard great is the culmination of smart design and good hardware. Not only does it have a solid weight and feel, and the keys feel good to type on, but the overall build is intelligent and made specifically for tablet users, down to how they can carry it with any tablet comfortably. That sort of precision is hard to find, and Microsoft has done an excellent job building this keyboard. It’s one of the best mobile keyboards available, and if you travel a lot and work on the road, and use a tablet often, the Wedge Mobile is a great solution to typing on the go.
Bottom Line: One of the best mobile keyboards for tablets you can get
- Intelligently built, with a grip/battery enclosure/stand
- Touch keys are tight, yet comfortable
- Cover is excellent for protection of keyboard and tablet
- Touch-typing isn’t for everyone, and the overall size may be uncomfortable for larger hands
- At $80, it’s slightly expensive