The Microsoft Arc's name comes from its curved chassis, which bulges upwards in the middle and slopes gently forward. This design makes the Arc pleasant and comfortable to use, as well as giving it an elegant, eye-catching look.
The typing action is one of the best we've tried. The keys have a light, fingerfriendly texture and matt finish (the body surrounding them is a smudge-prone gloss black, while the rear of the keyboard is white) and click quietly in use. The minimal noise and reassuring feel makes typing on the Microsoft Arc Keyboard almost soothing.
One unusual element of the Microsoft Arc's key layout is the directional arrows: the usual four arrow keys have been combined into a single concave-surfaced square button that can tilt in four directions, a little like the D-pads used on games console controllers. This takes some getting used to, but we think it's a nice bit of lateral design.
This move – along with some other layout-pruning decisions, such as removing the right Ctrl and putting Page Up and Down keys upstairs, doubling up the F keys (F7 upwards require the use of the Function key) and bringing Del into the top row - helps Microsoft to keep the keys big and well spaced while maintaining the keyboard's portable dimensions.
The Microsoft Arc Keyboard uses a 2.4GHz wireless setup, based on a tiny USB transceiver that, in another charmingly helpful piece of design, slots magnetically into the back of the keyboard when not in use.
The wireless signal appears to be powerful and reliable - Microsoft doesn't specify a range, but it was going strong with the Microsoft Arc a good 10m away from our test system.
The Microsoft Arc Keyboard is a beautiful, cleverly designed and well built keyboard that makes typing an absolute delight. Some of the layout modifications may seem confusing at first, but we think they're well worth it – just as the Arc amply justifies its relatively high price tag.