Is The Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 Really Any Good?
A strange thing happens to me from time to time when I see a particular gadget, in that I have to have it. Usually personal finances don’t allow it however I was already on the lookout for a Bluetooth keyboard to use with my various mobile devices when I happened upon my latest acquisition. I got to play with the Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 at the Windows 7 launch event at Wembley. Incidentally, this was also the first time I saw the Microsoft Arc Mouse too.
I didn’t want a fold up keyboard and so the Microsoft offering seemed perfect with its arched keyboard, “Comfort Curve”, arrangement and sensible size, so as soon as it was available I ordered one – I am typing this article on it now. There are actually two keyboards in the box, the main keyboard itself and a matching (but not Comfort Curved) numeric pad. In total three AAA batteries are required but these are supplied in the box so I could get going straight away.
The keyboard is really very pleasant to use – it is not quite as large as that on my 17” laptop keyboard but it is larger than the one on our 15” laptop. There is a slight ridge at the back to prevent it laying completely flat, and to provide a space to insert the batteries, though it would have been good to see it raised just a little bit higher for my liking. Due to the nature of the device the keys are not typically laid out as you might expect. The key things are there and in the right place but functions you might expect to lie on a numeric pad (such as PrtScn, End, Home, Ins) have been moved to keys just to the right of the Enter key (which also doubles up as PrtScn when Fn is pressed – The Fn key is also situated on the right whereas it is on the left on my laptop). Volume Up, Down and Mute get their own keys at the top of the keyboard. At the back of the keyboard is a power switch, the battery compartment and the Bluetooth Connect recessed button.
The numeric pad addition has an unusual curiosity in that it includes a Num Lock key but there are only numbers on the pad itself – when Numlock is set to off the 2,4,6,8 key work as arrow keys and the other keys work as Home, PgUp, End, PgDn, Ins, and Del but they are not labelled. The numeric pad does come with a nice Microsoft sleeve to keep it safe – it would have been good to see a similar sleeve for the main keyboard as there is nothing to protect the keys during transit – although they do have a very thin profile. There is no track pad with this keypad and it isn’t really required, the Arc Mouse comfortably fills that requirement and it would simply add to the dimensions.
Pairing both keyboards with my laptop under Windows XP was typically straightforward, start a scan for Bluetooth devices using the Bluetooth wizard, double-click the icon for Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 then enter the pairing code presented into the keyboard using the Bluetooth keyboard itself.
Getting my newer mobile devices to work with the keyboard, on the other hand, is quite another story. Pairing on the Palm Pre seems to only scan for Audio Bluetooth devices whilst the HTC Hero pairs but remains in a disconnected state. Typically, my older Nokia N95 8GB not only paired straight away but also works remarkably well with this Bluetooth keyboard so it looks like I really have not quite said goodbye to that device just yet.
Overall, I really like this keyboard. It looks good, it feels comfortable to use, and it is going to be really handy when I want to type up notes without having to lug around a large laptop because there really is no replacement for a proper keyboard. I only wish my newer mobile devices would play with it properly.