Today, a wireless keyboard is far more than just a computing peripheral. It can be used on-the-go with a tablet, for game-play and entertainment with a gaming console, and even as an integral part of the living room with a smart TV.

Microsoft’s all-in-one media keyboard is one such option in this category. It connects wirelessly to a computer, tablet, TV or other compatible device using a USB wireless transceiver. What sets it apart is that, along with the full-sized keys for typing, there’s also a built-in multi-touch trackpad, which allows for the swiping, dragging, dropping, zooming, and clicking motions that are typical in many applications today.

 

It also has hotkeys that direct to common Windows functions, like Search and Share; plus media controls like play/pause, and controls for volume levels. Three buttons above the trackpad can be customized to your liking using Microsoft Keyboard and Mouse Center: for example, I would likely use one to go straight to my Netflix account, which I access often to play movies for my son, or binge-watch my latest guilty pleasure.

It’s spill-resistant and durable, which means you can enjoy it on the couch with hot cocoa in hand, or let the kids play around with juice boxes nearby.

How Can You Use It?

With a tablet, you can pop in the USB transceiver (if you’re using an iPad, you’ll need the Camera Connection Kit because the Apple tablet does not have a USB port) wirelessly connect the keyboard, then prop the tablet up on a desk and use it like a laptop. This could be great for taking notes in meetings, or simplifying your workstation setup in a dorm room. You’ll be able to make use of all of the keyboard’s functionality with a Windows-based tablet, including the Windows 8 button and trackpad, which can help to make relatively simple tasks easier, like composing a new Facebook status or Tweet, writing a blog entry, or even tagging and naming photos in an online album. With other HID (Human Interface Device)-compliant devices, like the iPad or Android-based tablets, basic typing functions will work.

Use it in the living room and connect it to a Smart TV (USB HID-compliant, check your manual to determine compatibility) as an alternative to the remote to browse guide menus, key in search terms, and toggle among applications. The keyboard acts like an oversized remote control that allows you to easily navigate the more feature-rich menus and functions found in today’s smart TVs. Remember, it’s not just about channel guides anymore, but pages of icons, and menus for various services, from Netflix to Crackle and YouTube. But even with a regular channel guide, using a dedicated keyboard to key in the name of the show, movie, or actor you want to search for is far less cumbersome with a full-sized keyboard than when trying to use alphanumeric keys on a small remote.

You could also connect your computer to the TV to use the latter as a display, then connect the keyboard and surf the ‘Net or compose and manipulate documents on the extra-large screen. This could be especially useful if you want to lounge on the couch while navigating through your music library or looking through photos or home videos. The wireless connection works up to 30 feet away.

Another option is to use the keyboard as your main peripheral for a desktop computer (Windows 8.1, 8. RT 8.1, 8, or 7), easily positioning it as you like, whether on the desk or your lap, without worry about cords getting in the way, or the need for a separate mouse. This makes it easy for multiple people to work at once, so students can hand the keyboard over to a friend, or one employee to another, when each needs to input text or browse documents. The keyboard can last for up to nine months via the two AAA batteries (included), making power a non-issue.

Use the keyboard with a USB HID-compliant gaming console as well to navigate through the menus, tweak your online avatar, and make purchases through an online store.

You can pick up Microsoft’s All-in-One Media Keyboard now at Best Buy