Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard Review

*This device is a loaned review unit from Microsoft Malaysia*

I’ve previously been a fan of external keyboards for my setup. For some reason, none of the laptop keyboards were good enough for my speed typing. If my workstation permits, I usually have an external monitor setup as well. So, I’ve used the Microsoft Arc Keyboard in the past (read the review here). Nowadays, I work in a very mobile environment, so external keyboards and monitors have been retired for a cleaner workspace, with just my laptop.

However, we have a self-configured media centre setup at home. We hooked up a Mac Mini to our living room TV connected to a local network media server for all our digital movies and TV shows. We’ve been using the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400r (RRP RM 149) as a wireless keyboard and mouse to control this media centre setup in the living room.

When Microsoft provided me with this All-In-One Media Keyboard, I was happy to give it a try, as an alternative to the one we’ve been using for years. To be honest, we’ve not looked at any other alternative to what we have today.

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard (*Source : Microsoft.com)

Looking at the spec sheet, the Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard is just that, a device used for media centre. Here’s a high level overview:-

  • Integrated keyboard and multi-touch trackpad in one
  • Customisable media hotkeys (music, photo, video), volume control and other shortcuts
  • Spill resistant
  • Wireless connection, with nano transceiver (up to 30 feet)
  • Compatible with selected Smart TVs, gaming consoles, and Operating System (Windows 8.1, Windows® 8, Windows RT 8.1, Windows RT 8, Windows 7)

For more information, check out the Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard Malaysian website at http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-my/p/all-in-one-media-keyboard/N9Z-00028

Although it doesn’t state so on the product page, some reviews I found online did mention Mac OS support.

For non-Windows users, the keyboard also supports Mac OS X 10.7 through 10.9, along with Android 4.2, 4.12, and 4.03. DigitalTrends.com

I’m confused, but I was gonna test the Microsoft AIO (All-In-One) Media Keyboard on my living room Mac mini setup. I sure hope this works…

 

Hardware : Design & Build Quality

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard - Unboxing
Unboxing the Microsoft AIO Media Keyboard

Inside the box packaging – the keyboard itself, two (2) AAA batteries, a nano transceiver, and user manuals.

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard
Two (2) AAA batteries are included in the box

At the bottom, there’s a removable compartment to insert the batteries. Yes, Microsoft was nice to provide two AAA Duracell batteries. There’s also a magnetic compartment to stow the nano transceiver when not in use. Handy.

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard

The keyboard itself houses nice island chiclet keys that has good indent, with dedicated number keys. There are other hotkeys for volume control, other functin shortcuts and even customisable hotkeys for “Home”, “Music” and “Media”.

The arrow keys are a little tiny though. Much like the configurations in some laptops. It does the job, of course and you’d be using the trackpad more than anything to scroll.

Yes, that is one large trackpad, with subtle left and right clicks. More on their performance later.

The overall build quality is good and solid. It looks and feels premium. Compared to the Logitech keyboard we have, the Microsoft AIO Media Keyboard feels a lot more solid and sturdy, making the Logitech feel plasticky now. 🙂

 

Pairing, Usage and Performance

As mentioned earlier, I was already planning to use this as a replacement for the current Logitech keyboard I was using with my living room Mac mini setup.

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard - Nano Transceiver
Nano transceiver plugged in the back of the Mac mini

With this plug-and-play keyboard, no Bluetooth pairing is needed. The MS AIO Media Keyboard uses its proprietary Nano transceiver, with up to 30 feet wireless connection. I plugged it in the back of the Mac mini. Which already doesn’t give it a direct line-of-sight connection, but it detected the keyboard well enough.

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard - Not detected in Mac OS
Keyboard not detected?

Unfortunately, the screen pops up an error message, that the keyboard is not detected. 🙁

Funnily though, I moved my finger on the trackpad and the cursor on screen was moving along as well. It was detecting the keyboard and the trackpad, even though the error message persisted on screen.

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard - No drivers for Mac OS
No drivers for Mac OS

 

A quick check on the Microsoft website to hunt for the device driver for Mac OS, hoping to make sure the device is working at 100%. Boo-hoo. No driver for Mac OS. 🙁

Still, it wasn’t all lost, coz the trackpad and cursor seems to be working fine. Typing on the keyboard on Safari browser to hunt for the driver also seems to be working fine. Funny! So, we just dismissed the error message, and continued to use the keyboard. Seems to be alright.

 

Keyboard and Typing

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard - Keyboard
Nice keyboard layout and feel

As mentioned, the keys are properly spaced and has a nice depth and feel when speed typing. Just like most people, I have a particular preference with my keyboard and despises cheap, brandless keyboards that have springy keyboards. This annoys me when I don’t enjoy typing on the keyboard and constantly makes mistakes when speed typing.

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard - Typing
Excellent accuracy when speed typing

Not at all with the Microsoft AIO Media Keyboard. Although it’s more of a media keyboard, where you wouldn’t exactly be typing lengthy essays on this thing. When required, typing was nice and smooth and comfortable to use. When speed typing, not looking at the screen at all, there’s literally little to no mistakes registered. LIKE!

Although the hotkeys are configurable and customisable, just like with my previous Logitech, we almost never use these functions. The volume buttons work well, though. Can’t say we tried the other buttons like “Media”, “Photo”, “Projector” and other function keys. Meh.

 

Trackpad and Cursor

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard - Trackpad
Large trackpad with multi-touch gesture support

The trackpad is big. Very big. Compared to the Logitech I have, this is about 30-40% larger in surface space. It also supports multi-touch gestures, which means you can use two finger scrolling when browsing long webpages. You can also pinch to zoom on images and more.

In my scrolling, single or two finger, I find its sensitivity acceptable and good. Hubby on the other hand, didn’t. He felt the cursor was a little sluggish and sensitivity to be a little off. If there was a Mac OS driver, I suppose we can better adjust the mouse sensitivity in its settings menu, I suppose. Perhaps he’s not used to the new device yet, but compared to our previous Logitech keyboard, he prefered the former.

 

Wireless Connection

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard - Wireless Connection
Paired with the Mac mini on my home theatre setup

Because the nano transceiver was at the back of the Mac mini, not giving the keyboard a direct line-of-sight connection, there was minimal interference with the wireless connection  sensitivity. With web browsing and typing, you won’t really notice anything off.

We use Plex to organise our digital medias, so most of the time, we only ever use the arrow buttons to navigate.

At speed browsing, when we’re scrolling through a long list in our Media Library, we noticed a slight lag, and skipped lines when speed scrolling using the arrow buttons. The lag becomes very noticeable when we press and hold the arrow keys, the highlighted lines skips a line or two, with milliseconds lag. All this, even when we’re only 5 feet away from the nano tranceiver.

I worry about the wireless connection sensitivity, if I were to test the maximum listed 30 feet connection. :S

 

Pricing & Availability

The Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard retails at a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM 139.

This is actually RM 10 cheaper than the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400r, which retails for RM 149. Not that RM 10 will make a huge difference, if performance and reliability is your main concern.

 

Conclusion

Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard Review

It’s only fair that I’m comparing both the Logitech and Microsoft keyboard side-by-side. Because both keyboards serves the same purpose. Both keyboards have similar layout. Both keyboards are at approximately the same price point. Because we’ve been using the Logitech for the longest time, it’s hard not to be more familiar with the keyboard we’ve known for years.

However, knowing that there’s another good contender in the mix, was great. The Microsoft AIO Media Keyboard held up well, even though I was super bias to begin with.

 

What I Like

  • Sturdy and solid design & build quality
  • Good keyboard and typing accuracy and comfort
  • Big trackpad with multi-touch gesture support

What I Dislike

  • No official Mac OS support or drivers
  • Sometimes weak wireless connection when speed scrolling
  • Too many function keys that can be redundant

 

We were pleasantly surprised with the hardware and performance of the Microsoft AIO Media Keyboard.

Even though it doesn’t say so in the product literature, the compatibility on a Mac machine was good. The keyboard was solid and premium in build quality. It feels good in hand, on your lap, or wherever you might place them.

Build for home media centre use, which was perfect for my use and review, this is definitely a worthy competitor to consider, if you’re looking for a good media keyboard.

At a Rm 139 price tag, I think Microsoft may have a good product here. As more and more people (especially those in our circle) who maintains a home media centre of digital media, the Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard is definitely one to check out.

 

For more information, check out the Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard Malaysian website at http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-my/p/all-in-one-media-keyboard/N9Z-00028, visit Microsoft Malaysia website at https://www.microsoft.com/en-my/ and *LIKE* Microsoft Malaysia Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/MicrosoftMalaysia

 

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