Earlier this month, Microsoft announced its new Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard,which the Microsoft Hardware Blog refers to as the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000. Mine has just arrived, however, and its branded (on the box and on the device itself) as the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000. I can't explain the discrepancy, but they appear to be the same device.

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Microsoft bills this semi-ergonomic keyboard as the perfect accompaniment for slate-style tablets such as the iPad and Android devices, most of which include the required Bluetooth antenna. But it works fine with PCs as well, assuming they have built-in Bluetooth as well: The 6000 does not include a bundled dongle. On that note, I've tested this keyboard with both an iPad 2 and the Windows 8-based Samsung Series 9 Tablet.

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First, the ergonomics. While Microsoft is touting the fact that some unnamed ergonomic expert has "approved" the Comfort Curve design of the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard, I'd warn anyone suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or similar wrist ailments that while the slight curve of this keyboard's keys does indeed result in a more natural and comfortable wrist position, it's lack of height and angle adjustments means it's not a complete ergonomic solution. That is, semi-ergonomic is not ergonomic. It is better than any laptop keyboard, and is certainly better than Apple's woeful Bluetooth Keyboard, which brings the horrible ergonomics of portable computing to the desktop.

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The Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard is also better than a virtual keyboard, which is fine for short emails and web searching, but not for long form writing. So even an iPad user could benefit from this keyboard, assuming they're OK with using whatever limited content creation tools are available on that platform. (Apple Pages, for example.)

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One issue you may have with the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard is traveling. If Apple's entry, or similar keyboards from HP and others, have any advantage at all, it's that their flat, rectangular shape makes them a bit easier to carry around. While the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard isn't exactly huge, it is bigger than many Bluetooth keyboards, and it's curved shape is a bit awkward. It seems to sit more naturally in a bag with the taller/widescreen Samsung tablet than the iPad.

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The typing experience is decent: Better than a traditional rectangular laptop keyboard but not as good as with a true (or at least more) ergonomic keyboard. I wrote much of this review using this keyboard and the Windows 8 Samsung tablet, and found it superior to the Samsung's bundled keyboard. But again, it lacks adjustments that would make the keyboard more ergonomically safe, and I'm worried that the lack of a wrist rest, too, would make long typing assignments difficult.

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Overall, the Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 is a better keyboard than similar, non-ergonomic entries from Apple or others. But it's no replacement for a full-sized keyboard. I'll be traveling with it on my next business trip, so we'll see how it fares out in the world when I can't return to the comfort and safety of my desktop PC's large, more ergonomic keyboard.

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