I was perhaps a bit too excited by the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard, an interesting new accessory that works equally well with Windows, Android and iOS devices. But in unwrapping this new hardware device, I can already see a major flaw: It's going to be far too small for most people.
To understand why, just place the Universal Mobile Keyboard next to the Surface Pro 3's Type Cover, which is itself just a bit under full-sized. The Universal Mobile Keyboard is dramatically smaller.
So I've obviously tried typing on this device. I have large hands, and I will never be able to really use this keyboard. I'm going to see whether my 11-year-old daughter is interested, but I have a hard time believing any adult would be OK with a keyboard this small. As I write that, I realize many iPad keyboards are probably this small. So ... I don't know.
If you're still on board, here's what's up.
As I noted in Microsoft Announces New Tablet Keyboard, Other Accessories, the Universal Mobile Keyboard does have some innovative features I'd love to take advantage of on the road. These include:
Works with Windows, Android and iOS. Thanks to a little switch up in the corner, you can pair it via Bluetooth with your choice of Windows tablets, Android handsets and tablets, iPhones and iPads. (Windows Phone does not currently support Bluetooth keyboards.) I've connected the review unit to an iPad Air and Surface Pro 3 so far, and will check out Android soon.
Automatic on/off with cool integrated cover. Pull off the Universal Mobile Keyboard's cover and the keyboard powers on. Cover it back up and it's off. Nice! Obviously, the cover protects the keyboard when you're traveling. And the only good thing the small size is that it's very portable.
Cover works as a tablet stand. Aside from Surface Pro 3, no tablet comes with a built-in kickstand. So the integrated Universal Mobile Keyboard cover has a nice slot that you can use to prop up your tablet (or phone). The bad news? It only works in landscape mode. And it's not adjustable so you just get the one angle. (Which is actually fine for my needs.)
Beyond this, the Universal Mobile Keyboard ships with a USB charging cable, but no power plug. It will be available in gray or black (the review unit is black). It will cost $79.99 when it ships later this month.