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Microsoft MCE Keyboard: The Missing Link

Good Looks

The keyboard's size and shape make it portable; its sides can serve as handles for carrying it around, but also for using it without setting it down. And the ergonomics aren't bad at all. Two large rubber feet under the keyboard resist sliding, even on a surface that's not perfectly flat. The two-tone silvery finish adds class, and Microsoft's hardware division deserves kudos for the attention it pays to this aspect of its products. Power is provided by four standard alkaline AA batteries; a battery life of several months is claimed, but we obviously didn't have time to check that...

When we unpacked the keyboard, we kept looking for a wireless receiver to connect to the PC, but in fact there isn't one. The keyboard uses the infrared receiver of the remote control that comes standard with all MCE PCs. That's both a good and a bad thing. The good side is that it makes installation simpler, and does away with the need for an additional receiver. On the other hand, infrared means that you have to be facing the receiver with no obstacles between it and the keyboard. When you first start using the setup, there'll be a period of adjustment to the MCE remote control and the keyboard; this is not very complicated - it's a matter of pressing several keys simultaneously. In addition to the documentation, instructions are printed under the keyboard itself, which seems like a good idea but isn't too practical - you have to be able to see the keys to follow them!