Earlier this week, Microsoft greeted us with two more keyboards built for Windows 8 after publishing a hands-on and two unboxing of additional Windows 8 peripherals. In this installment, we rip open the boxes of the new Sculpt Mobile Keyboard (above) and the just-announced Sculpt Comfort keyboard. As with the previous products, Microsoft is sticking with a red and white theme to get your attention while you're walking by in an electronics store. How? Red vibrates next to white, catching your eye -- it's a common advertising tool.
Surprisingly, Microsoft didn't go with the hard cardboard exterior as seen with the two Wedge products. That's not a bad thing -- I just liked the sturdy packaging better. The Sculpt Mobile Keyboard box was easy to break into and slide off, revealing a really, really cool, boomerang-like keyboard waiting within. I didn't test its abilities as a boomerang -- our friends at Microsoft probably wouldn't care for that.
As you can see here, the two batteries and paperwork are stored under the keyboard. The instructions are rather thin, and given that it's Bluetooth, it was easy to pair with my Bluetooth-enabled laptop. The peripheral's size is roughly 14-inches at the wide end, around 12.5-inches at the narrow end, and around 6-inches deep. It stands around 0.50-inches at the back.
As seen here, this is where you insert the two batteries. On the left is a lock which keeps the battery door secure, and on the right, Microsoft has placed a button for Bluetooth paring (requires a pen or tiny screwdriver), and a power switch to conserve battery juice. Between you and me, this is by far my most favorite from Microsoft yet... it's flat, sleek and somewhat sexy, but that's a first impression. I can't see dragging this gadget on the go with a tablet however, especially when it doesn't come with a cover like the Wedge Mobile Keyboard.
The next batch of screens are merely for show -- I got trigger happy -- revealing some of the keys, the gadget's unique shape and its thin form factor. There are no props on the bottom either -- it's almost utterly flat on the desktop save for the small rise in the back where the batteries and Bluetooth components are stored.
Here are additional shots of the keys using a different lighting. For some reason I just love the way the light bounces off these keys.
Next up is the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard which was just announced on Wednesday. Unlike the prior two Windows 8 keyboards, this is the full-sized deal, packed with a number pad, a padded palm rest and wireless connectivity (non-Bluetooth). The package is similar to the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard, using a thin cardboard box and a red and white theme.
I believe this is the only keyboard out of Microsoft's latest batch to be pre-wrapped in protective packaging. The box itself was simple to break into by cutting the packing tape and sliding the sleeve off the cardboard container. Honestly, I couldn't help but feel a little drunk thanks to the new gadget smell emanating from the wrapping and the peripheral within. There should be a spray for that just in case you need that new gadget smell fix.
After pulling off the protective wrap, I noticed a blue sticker attached to the left portion of the spacebar. As reported in Wednesday's announcement, Microsoft split the spacebar in half, essentually creating two smaller versions. The sticker informs the user that the left side can be assigned as a backspace key because apparently everyone hits the spacebar with their right thumb. Regardless, as seen above, the wireless dongle and instruction manual are tucked away in their own compartment under the keyboard.
Microsoft for some reason decided to pre-install the batteries into this keyboard -- that hasn't been the case for the other Windows 8 peripherals. Instead, customers merely pull a blue piece of tape which previously separated the connection during shipping. As seen above, the battery compartment is located under the function keys. Also seen above it the lock that allows owners to remove the palm rest if necessary.
This was taken to show the keyboard's unique shape. It essentially forces users to type correctly, with a hand placed on each side of the "hump" -- not ideal for hunt-and-peck typists. It's quite solid and not all that heavy, and the wireless connection allows users to type from the comforts of their couch if the PC is hooked up to an HDTV in the living room. At its widest end, the keyboard is roughly 18-inches across, and around 7.5-inches deep. It stands 1.25-inches tall at the peak of the "hump", and roughly the same amount at the palm rest when the legs are deployed.
Here's the sticker that says the left spacebar can be assigned as backspace. The manual says to hold both buttons down simultaneously for three seconds until an LED lights up, signaling the assignment. Repeat when you no longer want to use the left button as backspace. The following images are close-up shots of the keys in different lighting, showing the Windows 8 buttons and other shortcut keys.