As posted on Microsoft’s New Keyboard Includes Fingerprint Login—and Bad Ergonomics
Microsoft’s cleverly integrated a fingerprint reader into its latest keyboard accessory, but removed some important aspects of what makes their line of keyboards easy to use. It’s great for quick logins, and definitely looks cool, but typing on it might not be the most comfortable experience.
Made for one click logins
The new $129 Modern Keyboard features a smartly disguised fingerprint sensor to the right of the right-hand Alt key. Its fingerprint sensor is compatible with Windows Hello, Microsoft’s biometric login feature that lets you get in your Windows device with your face or fingerprint (you need Windows Hello-compatible hardware, though). As soon as you register your fingerprints, you can log in using Windows Hello Fingerprint Authentication without using your password, saving some time and sparing you problems associated with the occasional memory lapse.
It also works with Windows Hello-supported apps, so you can approve app purchases with a single key press. With both wired and Bluetooth connectivity, it seems like a smart update and one that’ll get more people using Windows Hello without needing to purchase either a new laptop or expensive webcam to add to your PC.
According to its specifications, it’s fully compatible with MacOS 10.10.5, 10.11.1, and 10.11.4. Its Android and iOS compatibility choices are odd, as it only works with iOS 8 and 9, Android 4.2 devices, Android 4.4.4 on the Nexus 5, and Android 5.0 on the Nexus 9.
An ergonomic nightmare
It looks nice, but there’s a good chance it’ll feel bad. Microsoft’s keyboard suffers from the same issue plaguing Apple’s desktop keyboard (and nearly every other keyboard around): ergonomics.
Which is weird, because Microsoft solved its keyboard ergonomic issues by releasing two different, weird-looking keyboards. The Surface Ergonomic Keyboard has a palm rest covered in alcantara, a durable fabric Microsoft added to its Surface Pro keyboard covers, along with a curved construction that lets you keep your wrists in a more neutral position. Even the spacebar is curved, and sliced in half to accommodate each of your thumbs.
Microsoft’s new Modern Keyboard takes a few pages (or chapters) from Apple’s keyboard design. They ditched the alcantara fabric—which was pretty ugly. But they also got rid of the rest of the palm rest—a more confusing design choice. Last time I checked palm rests were pretty useful in preventing the edge of your desk from digging into your hands.