On Wednesday, Microsoft added to its arsenal of Windows 8 hardware a new all-in-one peripheral that crams together a multitouch trackpad and a full-size keyboard. The device will be available sometime in April for $39.95 at participating retailers such as Microsoft Store, Best Buy and more.
According to a brief product sheet, the new keyboard has a spill resistant design, meaning the keyboard will still function after users knock over their morning cup of coffee all over the keys (been there, done it). The peripheral can also withstand bumps, drops, or other "accidents" that take place in everyday life.
Surprisingly, this keyboard connects via USB. That means users will be required to tie up one of the USB ports on a PC with a 2.4 GHz dongle. Bluetooth would seem like the better choice, but given the keyboard focuses on multi-device use, USB is the ideal connection. This keyboard can be connected to a smartphone, tablet, console or Smart TV with USB HID compliant ports. The dongle fits inside the keyboard when not in use.
As with all Microsoft keyboards since Fall 2012, the function row plays host to Windows 8-specific commands like the Charms bar, Settings, Search and so on. Along the left edge there's a special left-click button at the top corner so that users can hold the keyboard in two hands and click without having to interact with the touchpad with the left hand. The keyboard also provides volume buttons and what appears to be a mute button.
"With customizable hotkeys for the Web, music, photos and movies, you can quickly access your favorite media with one touch," reads the product sheet.
The touchpad provides support for two simultaneous inputs (two fingers), allowing users to swipe, scroll and zoom. For those without a touchscreen, this touchpad will enable users to swipe in from the right to reveal the charms bar, swipe left to switch between apps and so on. This touchpad also provides the standard left and right mouse buttons.
Microsoft's new keyboard is compatible with Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows RT 8.1, Windows RT 8 and Windows 7.