Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard review

Pros

  • Highly portable
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Windows 8-specific function keys
  • Cover doubles as a tablet stand

Cons

  • Rather cramped key layout
  • Not ideal for longer typing sessions

The Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard isn't just a portable keyboard, it's an essential element in making the most of your Windows 8 tablet. The Wedge Mobile Keyboard offers a much better typing experience than the on-screen keyboard, with Bluetooth connectivity and Windows 8 functionality baked right in. Plus, the removable cover doubles as a tablet stand, so you can approximate the desktop experience nearly anywhere.

Design and features

The Wedge Mobile Keyboard is designed for use with Windows 8 tablets, and that shows in every detail. The compact design is made to be carried with your tablet – the rubberised cover and contoured battery compartment are actually made to provide a comfortable grip in-hand and against the tablet itself.

Pull off the cover, and you'll find that it bends in the middle to also serve as a stand for your tablet (see the above image). The cover also turns the unit on when removed, and off when secured to maximise battery life. With two AAA batteries powering it, the Wedge is about as mobile as it gets.

The Wedge Mobile Keyboard uses wireless Bluetooth connectivity so as not to occupy any of the USB ports on your tablet, leaving them free for other peripherals. And, perhaps most importantly, Windows 8 (and Windows RT) functionality is baked right in. The keyboard puts Windows 8 controls at your fingertips, including Search, Share, Devices, and Settings, plus four Charms. These four keys are found on keys F5 to F8, after which are regular keyboard functions, like PrintScreen, Home, End, Page Up and Page Down. Additionally, keys F1 through F4 offer media controls (play/pause, volume up/down/mute).

Despite being made with Windows 8 (and its relative, Windows RT) in mind, the Wedge is also compatible with other operating systems, including Windows 7, Macintosh OS X v10.6 to 10.7, and even Android and iOS. It should be noted, however, that when used with these other operating systems, you will lose advanced functionality – Windows 8 controls only work in Windows 8 and Windows RT. Microsoft covers the Wedge Mobile Keyboard with a three year warranty.

The small, slim keyboard is easy to carry and hold, weighing only 250 grams (450 grams with cover/stand) and measuring 256 x 101 x 23mm (WxDxH). That 23mm thickness is a bit deceptive, as nearly all of that thickness is found in the battery compartment – the majority of the keyboard is only 10mm thick.

The dimensions alone don't quite indicate how tightly packed the Wedge's 79 keys are. Aside from a narrow band of silvery trim running around the edge, the face of the keyboard is all keys. Even without a centimetre of space wasted, this keyboard is very small, but the result is also too cramped for anyone typing for long stretches.

Setup and performance

Pairing the Wedge keyboard to your Windows 8 tablet is simple, and takes only a few moments. Once the batteries are put in, and the keyboard is powered on, you simply press and hold the Bluetooth button on the end of the battery compartment. An indicator light on the face of the keyboard will begin flashing red and green, telling you that the keyboard is ready to pair. Then you open the Windows 8 control panel and select Add devices. The Wedge will show up, after which you simply click to select it, and type in the pairing code that will come up on screen.

Typing on the keyboard is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the size of the keyboard makes it virtually impossible to type comfortably, because the keyboard is just too small, with no spacing between the keys. On the other hand, the keys offer an impressive typing feel, with a fair amount of travel and some comfortable resistance. The soft touch finish on the keys is also nice. Most importantly, there was no latency or lag, even when typing quickly.

Verdict

While the typing experience on the Wedge may not rival the comfort of a premium desktop keyboard, the Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard is a sound and highly portable option for tablet users. Add in the Windows 8 controls, simple Bluetooth connectivity, and the cover that doubles as a tablet stand, and you've got a mobile keyboard which is nicely suited to your new Windows 8 slate. Just don’t be too hopeful about completing long stretches of typing activity without some aggravation on the comfort front.