Keyboards, mice and controllers may not be the sexiest topics in tech, but let's face it: Without them, you're not going to get much use out of your latest fancy gadget. Microsoft announced a whole slew of everyday productivity tech peripherals, with a particular focus on a keyboard that functions with Windows, iOS and Android simultaneously.
Microsoft dropped by the Tom's Guide office to show off its new stuff, and everything looked pretty straightforward. The first gadget I saw was its Universal Mobile Keyboard ($80), which will launch in October.
This tiny chiclet Bluetooth keyboard has its own carrying case and a slider that lets users switch between one Windows device, one Android device and one iOS device. While the keyboard is more expensive and arguably less versatile than the similar Logitech k480, it's also much smaller and more portable.
I went hands-on with the device, and found it to be more or less as user-friendly as Microsoft suggested. The keys are small and close together, but it's a real membrane keyboard rather than a haptic touchscreen. Aside from hitting the equals sign when I wanted the hyphen, my typing was both quick and accurate.
Switching between Windows, iOS and Android devices was also fast and seamless. The keyboard even has an Apple command button, which must be a first for a Microsoft peripheral. My only complaint was that the Universal Mobile Keyboard can only pair with one device from each operating system at a time. If you have both an Android phone and an Android tablet, for example, you will need to unpair one before using the other.
Otherwise, Microsoft's offerings were very straightforward. A wired Xbox One controller for PCs is on its way for $60 in November. As the device sports a microUSB charging cable, gamers can employ it either as a wireless Xbox One controller or a wired PC controller, depending on how they prefer to game.
Microsoft also has a handful of mice en route, although they're technically not new. The Arc Touch Bluetooth mouse ($70) is a foldable mouse that's identical to the Arc Touch Surface mouse, save for the branding — some consumers wanted the mouse without the Surface logo, and Microsoft complied. New designs for the standard portable Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 ($30) are in as well. Both models will be available later this month.
If you need a new mouse or keyboard, now's as good a time to pick one up as any. Stay tuned for more information about the current slew of Microsoft releases as we get them in for more detailed impressions.