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Microsoft All-in-One Media keyboard review: A low-cost keyboard combo for home theater or home office

The Microsoft All-in-One Media keyboard is targeted at the home theater computer market, but also works for home office or Web-surfing tasks from the couch.

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Joseph Kaminski
Joseph_Kaminski.jpg
Joseph Kaminski Senior Associate Technology Editor / Reviews

When not juggling the dual demands of parenthood and playing basketball, Joseph is a life-long Manhattanite who can be found testing the latest tech in the CNET Labs and developing new benchmarks and testing methodologies.

3 min read

This keyboard-plus-touchpad combo (the official list price is $40 or £35, but it can be found for less online) is lightweight, with a solid feel considering the price. The keyboard has a matte black finish, which I like since shiny finishes tend to show more fingerprints and dust, and this is made to be touched. Black is the only color available, while some other similar products come in multiple colors.

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7.5

Microsoft All-in-One Media keyboard

The Good

For a modest $30, the Microsoft All-in-One Media keyboard includes a built-in touchpad, physical volume controls, and WIndows 8 shortcut keys.

The Bad

The lap-spanning keyboard feels cramped, it lacks a backlight, and it's designed for right-hand users only.

The Bottom Line

The Microsoft All-in-One Media keyboard is a keyboard-plus-touchpad combo for home theater PCs that is both low-cost and simple to use.

This is not a Bluetooth keyboard -- instead, it connects via a small USB dongle. It runs on two AAA batteries (supplied) and has a small compartment on the bottom next to the batteries to magnetically store the dongle for travel. The battery door is easy to open with one thumb, which is handy if you've struggled to get a battery door open or had to get someone with long fingernails to help. It also has a physical on-off switch on the right side to conserve battery life when not in use.

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Sarah Tew
Touchpad response was good, except for using two fingers as a right-click, which often took multiple tries. However, the pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scroll both worked well. As a keyboard that's meant to be used on the lap, it seems to work best when the touchpad is directly over the thigh for support.

There are right and left click zones located on the bottom of the touchpad, and there is a physical left-click button on the left side that's convenient for dragging windows and files.

The row of function keys also control standard Windows 8 gestures, which is handy if you're not near a touchscreen. In addition to Windows 8 gestures, it also has shortcut keys located over the number keys and touchpad to play media, put the computer to sleep, search, share, launch the control panel, minimize all windows, open output preferences, and launch apps. They're customizable, too, with an additional software download from Microsoft.

One feature I would like to see is a backlight for the keyboard, especially considering it's designed for 10-foot home theater use. I personally love watching TV in the dark and would prefer not to turn the lights on to use a device, even though I can usually type without looking. There are people out there like my mom who turn the light on the raise or lower the volume, although that might push the price past $30.

A similar keyboard in this price range is the Logitech K400r. The K400r has a slightly more shiny finish with separate physical right and left click buttons on its touchpad. The K400r also comes in two colors: black and white, and with almost identical shortcut keys to the Microsoft for quick launch of apps. I like the physically raised right and left mouse click buttons on the K400r, but the actual keyboard is better on the Microsoft model.

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Sarah Tew \ CNET
The Microsoft keyboard has no viable gaps between the keys and the deck, making it harder for anyone who eats by the TV (you know who you are) to get food crumbs between keys. Microsoft also claims the keyboard is spill-resistant, which is different from waterproof, but still welcome.

For less than many standard wireless keyboards, the Microsoft All-in-One Media keyboard bundles in a decent touchpad and keyboard into a simple portable package. Its natural home is on the couch or coffee table, but it'll work as wireless keyboard for your laptop, tablet, or desktop PC in a pinch, too.

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7.5

Microsoft All-in-One Media keyboard

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8
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