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The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard …

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard has arrived and today I unboxed it and took it for a test drive. It retails for $99 on the Microsoft US Store, uses Bluetooth and can pair with two devices on iOS, Android or Windows devices.

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard - dimensions

The link above also had updated drivers for connecting the keyboard to Windows 10 (32 and 64 bit).

Unboxing…

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard is all about a perfect marriage of design and function and this starts with the box. Gone are the days of excessive boxing. Microsoft has designed the box with a Surface ethos, the box and the keyboard close magnetically.

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard - box closed

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard - box open

Once opened, the instructions are on the inside face. Ikea et al, see these instructions and learn. One day all instructions will be this way.

The keyboard works simply and elegantly, open is on and closed is off. It’s light, portable and the tactile response of the keys is as good as the keyboard on a Lenovo Yoga or Asus laptop. Folded it’s probably slimmer than the wallet in your pocket.

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The Warptest POV

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard is elegant in its design, sturdy yet sleek. It’s made for one thing and one thing only, for the road warriors, those urban commuters for whom space is a premium when travelling but those who need a physical keyboard.

Every single person who tried this today fell in love with it on first touch. I have thick fingers and so my concern was obviously this wasn’t going to work for me. I may never be a violinist with my hands but I can make this keyboard sing.

One of my testing team took the phone in the photos above, my Lumia 820 and walked thru our offices while I typed all the way to the front door of our offices, about 35 to 40 meters and was amazed to report my typing kept coming thru. Now I doubt I’ll ever need a use case like that but it was impressive.

If you need a portable keyboard, then the Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard is the one for you. Of course, no kickstand on your iPad, Android, or other device. You’ll need more than two hands or some kind of MacGyver solution.

 

This ad has nothing to do with this post but hey, kickstands.

I’ll be doing a follow-up when the Lumia 950XL arrives with its kickstand case.

So if the plane, train or bus is how you get from A to B and you need to just keep on typing, then go checkout the Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard and let me know what YOU think.

LOTR Meme

Off to a modest start…

According to many of the market analysts Microsoft’s dip of the toe into the hardware market with the Surface RT is off to a modest start.

I’m prepared to reserve judgment until after the holiday sales and just hope that Redmond have a plan to bring their A-game to Surface hardware sales and marketing.

So far the Metro UI “eye-candy”, click keyboard, see the ad everywhere approach coupled with sales from brick and mortar Microsoft Stores seem to garnering mixed reactions.

In my last post I suggested that Microsoft has to combat “the suspension of imagination”, consumers have become used to spoonfed UX and there is limited desire to explore or imagine other, even better ways of using tablets, laptops etc. The Windows 8 Ecosystem is going to have to combat this mindset not because there is anything wrong with the UX but because it is something radically different.

One simply doesn’t Pivot Into Surface Sales, OK Microsoft?

Applying existing business models and marketing strategies to high-end electronics, hardware and then selling that hardware based on technical aspects is a partial strategy at best.

One simply doesn’t pivot into Surface (hardware) sales without modifying strategy. (It was irresistible, sorry)

LOTR Meme

What we are seeing is classic Microsoft but if they really want the Surface RT and (impending) Pro to sell they need to add to what they are doing.

Reexamine what works…

Microsoft should be taking a cold, hard look at what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to how they and of course, their competitors have sold in the past.

Two of Microsoft’s greatest successes IMHO were: –

  1. The Windows 7 Unbranded Experiment: After the consumers basically took up pitchforks and burning torches due to the usability issues around Windows Vista a lot of hard work went into analyzing the factors that displeased the user and resolving them. In doing so Windows 7, possibly the best Windows experience until now was developed. A version was installed on laptops without any Microsoft or Windows branding and Microsoft took it to the streets and shopping malls to allow consumers to try the Mystery OS without any preconceptions or prejudice based on Vista. Consumers whole-heartedly loved it.
  2. I’m a Mac, I’m a PC: The incredibly amusing series of spoof ads with slim, young, hip Justin Long as the cool Mac and stodgy, unfashionably dressed John Hodgman as the PC were designed to highlight how easy and accessible Mac was whilst taking a light-hearted poke at poor, old PC.

I’m a Mac Ad via YouTube user pippintk.

The Warptest Perspective…

Seeing ads on billboards, YouTube and TV. Watching your favorite TV show solve a crime or foil international skullduggery with a Surface RT in hand is excellent. Whilst I’m not advocating a repeat of the Unbranded Experiment shouldn’t Redmond be seriously considering having Microsoft Surface Experts in every shopping mall and in the streets? Get the Surface devices into consumers’ hands and let them see for themselves what it’s all about. Have the Experts show them how intuitive Windows 8 / RT is and let the hardware win over consumers’ hearts and minds for itself.

Secondly, bring I’m a Mac, I’m a PC back and turn it on its head (unless there are copyright issues of course) but instead of just contrasting your competition against your product also show the abilities of the Surface Pro vs the RT. However, don’t… DON’T talk about ARM vs Intel processors! To the average consumer this might as well be Martian. Below is Microsoft’s “what to buy” chart but let’s face it if your winning strategy is an infographic then you really need a wake up call.

Chart embedded from Microsoft Surface Site: NB. it looks different when opened in browser. But you get the idea.

The revolution is here and soon the tablet next to you on that bus, train or in that coffee shop is going to be a Surface. Now imagine yourself using it.

An Apple Engineer Walks into a bar..

Yesterday I was sitting in front of Tweetdeck reading the feeding frenzy that inevitably develops prior to an Apple iProduct release when it occurred to me that something was missing from it all:

Jokes aside the anticipation for the new product release and rampant speculation were as strong as ever.

The morning after..

It’s the day after the release of the new iPad and people are strongly divided between excited and displeased.

What the experts think..

I just read Hillel Fuld’s take on it  – if you read two blogs on Tech, his should probably be one.. after mine of course.

Apple - appboy blog post

I like what Hillel had to say and agree with a lot of it but would Joe Consumer feel the same way?

Perhaps the Naysayers and the Disappointed are thus  because the bar for expectation has been raised so high with iPhone4S (Siri)? Or could it be that MWC was taken by storm by a revitalized Nokia (41 megapixel camera-phones, gorgeous Windows Phones etc)?

The Warptest POV

This may be a device with a stunning display, longer battery life and uber-speed but hardware spec has to be experienced to be believed, especially at that price point. Whereas a phone that converses with the user like a virtual girlfriend, well you had even me at “converses..”:

Apple - converses

At the end of the day we need to take a critical look at just what Apple is offering us and ask:

  1. Is it worth the price to buy this?
  2. Am I getting full value bang for my buck?
  3. Is this going to be disruptive innovation or just an upgrade of what I have?
Only you can answer these for yourself, but you should probably be sharing your opinion either way with Apple.
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