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Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard review: Surface's Type Cover, split in half

Mark Hachman | July 15, 2015
Who cares about a mobile keyboard? After all, I can thumb-type quite handily, I can dictate text to Windows 10 via Cortana, and I'm never too far from a physical keyboard, especially with thin-and-light ultrabooks or a Surface tablet. So why bother with Microsoft's latest Universal Mobile Keyboard?

The keyboard itself also includes two Bluetooth buttons, each of which can be held down to pair with a particular device, allowing you to set up the same keyboard to connect to a tablet as well as a phone, for example.

Microsoft dubs its Bluetooth keyboard a "universal" one, and the keyboard will connect to phones running Windows Phone 8, 8.1, 8.1 Update 1, Apple iOS 7 through 8.1, and Android 4.4.2 through Android 5.0.

I had no problem connecting the keyboard to either a Windows phone, and Android phone, or to phones running Microsoft's latest version of Windows 10 Mobile. (Just be sure that when the phone asks you to enter a password on the keyboard itself that you hold down Shift to type numbers, and hit Enter.) The only device that wouldn't connect to the keyboard was a Surface Pro 2 tablet running a pre-release version of Windows 10.

Eventually, phones with Windows 10 Mobile built in will be able to connect to an HDMI monitor through a cable (or wirelessly) via Microsoft's Continuum vision. Mobile versions of Universal apps like Office will expand to cover the vast expanse of the desktop display, transforming the mobile phone into something more like a full-fledged Windows PC. If all goes as planned, some day you may be leaving your Windows tablet at home, swapping it out for something far less bulky.

If that day ever comes to pass, you'll need a keyboard to accompany that phone. And that's where the Universal Mobile Keyboard comes in. 

Some might think that we're going to be somewhat generous in awarding this keyboard the rating we did, given that I felt it was uncomfortable to use. But I tend to feel that keyboards tend to be subjective experiences; those that prefer split keyboards may love Microsoft's device. I don't. But there's no denying that the keyboard is well-built, and stands on the shoulders of a keyboard I've used daily and quite enjoyed. From that standpoint, I'd recommend it.


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