Name: Microsoft Arc Keyboard
Rating: Strong Recommend*
Admittedly, it's not often we wax poetic with the words "beautiful" and "subtle" with "Microsoft" in the same sentence, but that is indeed what we uttered once opening the box for the Arc Keyboard, a wireless design that just entered the marketplace last month (mostly under the radar due to exclusivity at Best Buy).
We'd like to give Microsoft credit for the amusing and somewhat perplexing packaging included to promote the keyboard; it came complete with a fork and knife (perhaps in recognition of the plate-thin shape?). The shiny black keyboard operates on 2 AAA batteries, using a 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle (the tiny dongles hides away underneath magnetically inside a recessed space); we had it up and running without an issue on our Mac despite this being designed primarily for Windows operating system devices.
The curved shape, which gives the Arc it's name, is subtle but noticeable, and even more so once you place it on your lap while using it for its intended purpose as an HTPC-couch surfer input device. Just so you don't waste time looking for them, there's no number pad. Those keys have been replaced by a single 4-way key which might slow down input in specific situations. Otherwise, the small form factor really shines with able typing performance from a sitting position with the keyboard placed upon the lap. In fact we're typing this post on it without much issue despite the change in position; compared to our Mac wireless keyboard, the feel is a bit cushier, if not more satisfying in keystroke feel-sound feedback (think hushed satisfying clicks).
Overall construction feel solid despite its light weight; there's no evident flex or weakness to the plastic, and the subtle, nearly invisible Microsoft branding is appreciated from a cosmetic standpoint. The Arc also comes with a lightweight storage case that seems a bit of an afterthought compared to the keyboard itself, but this would be fine sitting ontop of coffee table in our opinion.
Our only complaint is the keyboard, like anything shiny and black, is easily marred by dirt and oil from fingers (and we washed thoroughly!), so people who like to eat while they type, be warned! At $59.95, there's a whole lot of good offered by such a small and well thought out device. We hope the MS team continues with more sophisticated, high design that stays ahead of the...ahem...curve like the Arc.
Full Disclosure Notice: Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes. Our full notice is here.