Microsoft Hardware has been around a really long time making everything from keyboards to mice to gaming joysticks. Some of these products are designed for performance, while some others for aesthetics and ergonomics. They launched their new Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 only a short while back and we decided we’d give the new product a go. Designed for a different kind of user - it’s a more functional device, made for those who use mobile devices such as tablets, notebooks and phones. On-screen keyboards can only offer so much and it makes sense to use a physical keyboard if you want to be more productive. An on-screen keyboard also uses a lot of screen space, with very little left for the application itself. It’s times like these that a physical keyboard comes handy.
Hands on: Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000
Design and build quality
Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t one of those flimsy foldable keyboards for phones and tablets. It’s a proper physical keyboard and it uses Bluetooth, but it doesn’t come with a Bluetooth dongle like most other keyboards. The Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 is pretty compact and will easily fit into a backpack, the reason being the lack of a numerical pad. The keyboard uses two AAA batteries, which allows it to be really slim. The build quality itself isn’t particularly amazing but it’s sturdy enough for use on a desk or on your lap.
Slim, lightweight and pretty sturdy
The keyboard has a slight curve to it but the entire keyboard is dead flat with the keys having a bevelled shape to them. The keys along the edges are rounded off to keep it as smooth as possible. The function keys are small in comparison to the rest and Microsoft has had to implement other function keys such as the Home, End, Insert and Print Screen buttons using a Function key, just like the ones used on notebooks and netbooks. The added multimedia buttons for volume as for muting are useful, especially with use with tablets. The edges of the keyboard have a matte coating to them.
The keyboard is designed for products that already have Bluetooth capability in them. Those users wanting to use this keyboard on a desktop will need to buy a USB Bluetooth dongle. These are usually affordable and priced under Rs. 100 at times. The rear of the keyboard has two sliders - one to unlock the slip that covers the batteries and the other that’s used to power on the keyboard. The on/off switch means you can turn it off when the product is not in use. This helps in retaining the battery charge. There’s also a tiny little Bluetooth button, that is to be pressed to make an initial connection with the device such as a tablet or a notebook.
Fn key, required to access the Insert, Print screen, Home and End functions
Installation and getting the keyboard to connect to a tablet or a notebook is really simple. On Windows, it’s the same process to connect, like it is with say a bluetooth headphone or a phone. A simple passkey has to be entered and the keyboard is automatically detected. With tablets too, a similar process is followed and we tried the keyboard on an iPad and we had no issues whatsoever. To enable the keyboard to be detected, one needs to hold down the Bluetooth connect button for a few seconds, which can be a bit of a pain considering its small size. We did have some issues however, connecting to some older Android phones and tablets. The product would detect but wouldn’t be able to send any keystrokes for the passkey, thus not letting it authenticate.
The keys on the Desktop 5000 keyboard are actually well designed and typing is effortless. They aren’t mechanical keys but they’re really flat and have a very light feel to them. There isn’t much lateral movement either and the keys are very closely placed together. Typing on them is easy and doesn’t require much time getting used to.
The two AAA batteries makes sure the keyboard maintains its slim shape
The function keys at the top are a tad too small, but then you’d be rarely using them. The only real difference is the slightly curved design. This makes some of the keys at the bottom of the keyboard really large. The directional keys for example are really long and thin as compared to some of the others. Wireless performance is great and we were able to use the keyboard from a distance of more than 12 to 15 ft without any issues. It even works behind physical partitions. Practically however, you’d be using this sitting in front of a tablet or a notebook most of the time.
A great companion for a tablet
Priced at Rs. 3,350 in the Indian market, the Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 is a cheap alternative to turn your tablet into a notebook of sorts. The keyboard is highly functional and is very usable. We would have liked Microsoft to bundle a Bluetooth dongle which would’ve expanded the scope of the product by letting users use it with desktops. Still, the fix is easy - simply buy a Rs. 100 Bluetooth dongle for the PC.