Internet Keyboard Pro, by Microsoft
Posted: 27-Jun-2002

2 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Microsoft Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

The Internet Keyboard Pro is a PS2 and USB compatible full-sized keyboard that works on both a PC and a Macintosh. The keyboard was tested both on a Windows system and a Mac system. This is the Mac version of the review. Click here for the PC version.

Installation & Configuration
Installation, even on the PC, was simple as can be. Basically, I plugged in the keyboard and it worked. Configuring the special keys required running the software that comes with the keyboard, and setting the keys to do what you want. For the most part, their default behavior was fine. I did define the mail button to run my desired email client, and I changed the calculator button to start up a different program (rather than a calculator). It would have been better to have some non-descript buttons for miscellaneous programs.

Usage
Using the keyboard, I immediately experienced a big difference. I found that this keyboard felt better to use than both the stock PC keyboard and Mac keyboard. The layout of the keyboard felt sturdy, able to take a good key pounding, and the keys themselves were fluid and just plain felt good to press.

The internet buttons were spaced appropriately to make reaching them and pressing them an easy task. The buttons included web functions to the left (back, forward, stop, refresh, search, favorites, and home) and multimedia functions to the right (media, next track, prev track, stop. play/pause, volume up/down and mute). In the middle was a larger sized key for opening mail. Off to the far right were 3 additional buttons for My Computer, Calculator and Sleep.

As a replacement keyboard for a PC setup, I could not find any fault with the keyboard. As a replacement for a Mac setup, however, Mac lovers may not take too well to a Windows-themed keyboard. For instance, many of the common key combinations are labeled on the front side of the keys, such as "Copy" on the "C" key. However, they are labeled as "* Copy", where "*" represents the Control key. On a Mac, this is mislabeled, as the Mac actually uses Command-C to perform this function, not Control-C. Also different is that instead of the Command (Apple) key, you are presented with a Windows key (a key with the Microsoft logo on it), and it is to the left of the Alt key (whereas on Mac keyboards, the Command key is to the right of the Alt/Option key). Finally, the number keypad is slightly different on Windows than on a Mac. On a Mac, the top row is Clear, "=", "/" and "*", but on Windows (and on this internet keyboard) it is NumLock, "/", "*" and "-". Down the right side on a Mac is "*", "-", "+", and Enter, where as on this keyboard you have "-", "+", and Enter (one key less).

Other than the above discrepancies, everything worked just as well on the Mac as it did on the PC.

The Internet Pro keyboard also comes with an ergonomic attachment to the button for wrist support, fitting perfectly into the curved design of the bottom of the keyboard. If you are fine with this attachment, then all is well. If, however, you prefer a gel pad, or something softer than the plastic that this wrist support is made of, then good luck trying to find a pad that is designed to fit the curved shape. Fortunately, the curve is not too dramatic, allowing the possibility of using a straight wrist pad. On the other hand, due to the curve pushing out beneath the space-bar, your wrists will be farther from the keys than you want.

Conclusion
I have two different conclusions, depending upon the platform you use. If you are using a PC platform, than the Internet Pro keyboard comes highly recommended. I have not seen a better looking, betting feeling and functional keyboard for the PC. If you are on a Mac, however, this keyboard may not suit your tastes as well. It's fully functional and ergonimically rich, but sports Windows keys rather than Apple keys, making it a runner-up to keyboards such as MacAlly.

Pros:

  • Ergonomically sound and stable keyboard design
  • Useful internet shortcut buttons built into the keyboard
  • Includes wrist support

Cons:

  • Curved button of keyboard makes using your own straight wrist pad a problem
  • For Mac users, some keys are mis-labeled, in different places or missing


Mac Rating:

2 1/2 out of 5 Mice