Normally, a numpad is just that, a section of keys on a keyboard which type numbers and some mathematical operations on a PC or other gadget. Elecom decided it was time to break from that mold.
Elecom has formally launched the TL-FDP055, a wireless keyboard whose touchpad lacks physical keys.
Instead, the numpad is actually a touchpad which, in addition to its normal role, lets owners use some touch commands and gestures that would normally require a touchscreen.
Swiping leftwards to the center calls up the Charm Bar menu, for example. Swiping rightwards to the center switches active apps.
Pinch to zoom in/out is supported, as is opening the apps bar by swiping downwards to the center. Furthermore, swiping sideways using three fingers flips between web pages, while swiping upwards from the center with three fingers opens the Computer menu.
These are only some of the capabilities of the touchpad. They may take some getting used to, but it is, at present, the best available for those who still want to sit on a couch or just keep their distance from the monitor while working on their PCs.
Windows 8 places great emphasis on touch input, and the Modern UI is clearly made for it. There isn't even the normal start menu actually.
As a bonus, the numpad can control the screen mouse pointer, just in case there isn't a wireless mouse on hand for some reason.
The only possible downside is that the Elecom wireless keyboard uses a wireless receiver that plugs into a USB port, rather than Bluetooth, and some mobile Windows 8 units (laptops/tablets) lack full-size USB ports. Then again, since those devices are small, it isn't really practical to put distance between one's self and the small screen.
Speaking of size, the keyboard measures 369 x 124 x 24 mm (14.52 x 4.88 x .94) and weighs 455 grams (about 1 pound). The price is of 8431 yen (107 USD / 82 Euro), probably including the two AA batteries (4-month life, 10-meter range, 3 meters when other magnetic fields exist). Windows XP, Vista and 7 are supported, but without the touch functions. Sales will start in December 2012 in Japan.