Pros:Curve, combined with Chiclet style keys, makes ARC 'fingertip friendly'.
Cons:Putting "End" and "Home" keys in the middle.
The Bottom Line: Adapting from 102/104 keys to curved and smaller keyboard was easy, number pad is not missed but those adept with 10-Key data pad entry will balk.
Microsoft ARC Keyboard - Concave Chiclet Style KeysPart Number: JSD-00001 Black (White also available)
Recommend this product?
SKU 8 82224 93028 4
2.4 GHz WIRELESS - PC, MAC Compatible, "Nano" USB Receiver
Power: 2 x AAA Alkaline Batteries
Connectivity: USB (A) Transceiver (0.7" x 0.45" x 0.2")
Stows in magnetic pocket in underside
(Range: 10 feet plus )
12.2" L x 6.06" W x 0.9 H
(311mm x 153.9 x 22.9)
The ARC comes in a protective black cloth jacket. (Road warriors take note.)
The ARC Frame is double contoured, from right and left and front to the apex at the top of the layout. The manufacturer calls this "Style".
Operating Systems:Win7, Vista, XP, Software On Internet
See also, Apple MacBook keyboard -
Closer inspection revealed the squared shape of the keys instead of beveling to separate the impact surfaces. It offers an escape from FLAT KEYITIS so common with Laptops. There is a matching wireless Mouse that is equally stylish. All we need now is a portable PC in a box like the Apple Mini.
Typing key layout is the classic 4 row "QUERTY" common to manual and electric typewriters.
Above those 4 is a row of half-height buttons dedicated to computing functions: Left to Right, "ESC" followed by "F1" through "F6" then comes "Home", "End", "Pg Up", "Pg Dn", a Mute Icon, Vol 1, Vol , and "Del"
"Shift" combinations have become "Fn", a new key occupying the former Lower RH "Windows" Flag Key position ESC Fn becomes a Power On/Off icon. "F1" through "F6" "Fn" become "F7" through "F12", respectively.Finally, "Del" "Fn" become "Ins"
The "Upper Case" Fn symbols are printed on the keyboard frame above the respective buttons.
The bottom row of keys is still computing territory. The last two on the right are New and Novel:The right hand "Windows" Flag is now the "Fn" or function combination key*. The right hand "Ctrl" key is now a 4 Direction Rocker Switch common to TV Remotes.
F1 thru F12 ("function") Keys: What do they do?
They are vestigal remnants of the early days of personal computering. From the 1993 "Getting Started" manual for WordPerfect 6.0 DOS: Esc is assigned to CANCEL, F1 is assigned to HELP, and F3 brings up a list of open documents. With F10, you could either open a file into a new document or into the current document.F8 opened a list of Fonts and Font Styles.F7 meant "OK"F5 was for FILE MANAGER
Today, From www.computerhope.com
F1 opens the Application Help Menu
F2 includes the "Rename" command
F3 Opens a "Search" command
F4 Find or Repeat
F5 Reload a page or document
F6 Move the cursor to the Address Bar
F7 Spell Check and/or Grammar Check
F8 Enter Windows Startup Menu or Safe ModeF9 Was 'Recalculate' in a Spread Sheet
F10 Menu Bar of an application (Shift F10 - Right Click)
F11 Full Screen Mode
F12 "Save As" window
Some keyboard software allows users to reprogram Function Keys. Today, most of those "Shortcuts" are found in drop-down menus.
THE PERSONAL TOUCH**
The ARC first came to my attention at the Staples Store in Salinas, CA. It was impressive; I perceived it as a space saver and a
back-to-basics resurrection of practical design. It was also very pricey.
The ARC has not appeared in Napa but one was found at Best Buy in Vallejo, CA, 25 miles south of where this review is being created. (On an ARC, of course). This provided a "hands-on" experience but it was too expensive. It was very disappointing to see the same old MSRP ($59.95), but I returned it to BB and got it at Amazon for $40.37 including shipping. Amazon had some used ones on sale for much less.
POWER ON/OFF - Holding Esc Fn keys for several seconds toggles power on or off. If the user leaves it 'on' the battery life will shorten. When battery is Low, an LCD light located below the "Del" key will show orange. In use, one should develop the habit of shutting the keyboard off. That causes the green light to turn green and flicker 3 times. Turning it on causes the intensity of the green light to increase gradually. An easy way to be sure is to remove the batteries when not in use.
The Transceiver has a squared rectangular plastic cap that makes removal from USB port easy to do. When removed for physical measurement, Transceiver would not resume functions and keyboard was disabled.
I had believed the device was "Hot Swappable" but it isn't. This is a logical Engineering decision, so the device is not at fault. Rebooting cured this operator error.
I had never taken to the Ergonomic keyboards but the ARC does not overstate the (implied) benefits of the curved face. It was easy to adapt to it. During the early stages of the review draft, I was actually switching back and forth from the ARC to my Logitech Illuminated which was still sitting right above it on my work station.
Jerry Pournelle brought the term "chiclet", as in key shape, to my attention after this review was published. the space between key surfaces is achieved by beveling each key or by installing squared keys further apart. ARC is the latter type carried a bit further by milling off the material at right angles to the keyboard surface instead of slanting the edge. This change might be what makes the overall feel of the ARC seem better than the Logitech
I like the ARC. It incorporates some of the better features from Yesteryear plus a return to the physical gaps between keys on the old manual typewriters. The combination of curves and squared key edges has me convinced that ARC is superior - for 2 weeks now, it gets used most often. A touch typer's friend.
BEST: Directional Rocker Key. Shorter length frees some space on the typing tray and allows me to center the keyboard on my Monitor.
WORST: Locating the "End" and "Home" keys in the center.
* Logitech has done this as well on its Illuminated Keyboard - using a contrasting color - Orange.
** Scorned by some, this review component differentiates Epinions from CNET.
Read more product reviews on Microsoft Arc J5D00001 Wireless Keyboard
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Amount Paid (US$): $40.37