It’s something that our subconscious knows, but that we rarely acknowledge explicitly: the things that most govern our experience with a computer, be it desktop or notebook, are the humble keyboard and mouse (or touchpad). Just as I ended up with MacBook Pro (yes, I’m a dirty Apple user these days), because of the wonderful keyboard and touchpad, the hideous feel of some devices makes you want to throw them away. As an example, the touchpad on the G1 version of some very expensive HP notebooks was enough to make you want your money back regardless of anything that they did well.
For this reason, I’m always looking for a better keyboard and mouse. For instance, I have quite the collection of Logitech equipment, even after giving away quite a few pieces. I might seem (be) a bit unhinged, but the feel of my input devices makes that big a difference to my workday that I’ll willingly outlay significant amounts if I think I’m getting something better than what I have. The struggle is real.
And so it was that I splashed out for the Microsoft Surface Keyboard and it’s partnering mouse. These are expensive devices – maybe not “gaming” expensive, but expensive nonetheless. At $159 for the keyboard and $69 for the mouse, it’s more than I’ve spent on a business keyboard and mouse in one purchase. So are they worth the money.
The keyboard is a resounding, “Yes”. I love it. Forget all the rubbish spruiked about “build quality and aesthetics” in a lot of the reviews I read, it’s like Microsoft took the keyboard off the MacBook Pro and gave it satisfying, tactile click. It’s a compact size and layout, much better for my cluttered desk, but my fingers just know where all the keys are. It is easily the best desktop keyboard I’ve used. Other pro’s are that it is slim enough to pop in a 15.6” notebook bag, is bluetooth so it doesn’t have a dongle, and is dead easy to pair. Being a Microsoft device, drivers are no problem as Windows just goes and gets them from the web. There’s a couple of negatives: there’s no backlit keys, and I’ve noticed on my old HP notebook there is, intermittently, a bit of latency with the Bluetooth, which manifests as duplicated characters – it’s as if I’ve pressed the same key a couple of times quickly. It’s only sometimes, and I generally discount it because that notebook is quite old.
The mouse? I’m not so in love with it – quite the opposite. Rather than the “carefully crafted experience” Microsoft promises, it feels light, plastic and cheap. It feels a bit large even in my big fist, the click is hollow and it doesn’t slide well without a decent mouse mat. The only thing that feels OK is the scroll wheel, though that’s kind of the opposite of Logitech’s frictionless scroll that I’ve been used to. I would pick my Logitech Anywhere MX mouse over the Microsoft Surface Mouse for every characteristic.
I’m seriously tempted to return the Surface Mouse because it’s so crappy for an expensive item, but you would need to pry the Surface keyboard from my dead hands.
The search continues …