Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 Keyboard/Mouse Review

My new Microsoft keyboard is great. I needed a keyboard to use in my lap in the front room with a non-Bluetooth computer. I tried out the Siig Wireless Multi-touch first, because it had the mouse and keyboard functionality all in one unit. No mice falling off the arms of chairs that way. And I've come to prefer the convenience of touchpads over mice over the past couple of years.

Wireless Connection

The Wireless Desktop 3000 uses an RF dongle to connect to the computer via USB. Since the computer I'm connecting this to doesn't have Bluetooth (an Eee PC 1000HD), this is about the best I could do. Unfortunately, the dongle isn't one of the sort that's practically flush with the side of the computer. It sticks out like a thumb drive. Fortunately, I'll only be using this set up when I'm not mobile, so it's not that big a deal.

Wireless Keyboard Version 2.0

The keyboard's back states that it's a Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 3000 v2.0. I don't know what the differences are from version 1.0. This one works well.

Excellent Keys

The keyboard itself is nice in that the keys all move freely from whatever angle you type on them. On a lot of similar keyboards I tried some keys, usually the space bar, would stick a bit when pressed from a low angle before depressing. The keys are all properly sized.

A biggie is the placement of the keys, such as CTRL and ALT. They're in the right place, at least they are if you've gotten used to having CTRL at bottom left and bottom right. Many keyboards place a FN key where a control or ALT key ought to go. This gets pretty darn frustrating, especially if you move between as many different keyboards in a day as I do. The Esc key looks odder than it feels. I haven't had any problems using it without thinking about it, and its placement makes the grave/tilde key a lot easier to use. That's appreciated at the Unix command line.

There are a lot of special function keys. They don't mean too much to me one way or another, except for the volume control keys that my Mac has trained me to get used to. The Fn keys above the keyboard are all primarily special keys for various things like opening a folder or whatever. Fortunately, there's a key to lock these to Fn keys rather than special keys for those of us who are more interested in quick access to F1, F2, and so on than to "send email" or "check spelling".

Keyboard Construction

The overall build of the keyboard is light, but very sturdy. It has a little bit of a "Rubbermaid" feel about it, but in fact it's quite stiff and sturdy. The keycaps are well shaped, and have a good texture to them. The lay of the keys on the board is also very good, each row feels a bit elevated from the lower rows, without being a stretch for fingers.
The keyboard comes with its own software, which the manual admonishes should be installed "for best performance." I haven't installed it. The system I use this keyboard with is mainly Ubuntu, and I boot WinXP on it about once a week. The keyboard has done everything I would like it to without any software installs. It acts just like any other USB keyboard.

Wireless Mouse

The model of mouse that was included in the Wireless Desktop 3000 package is a Microsoft Wireless Mouse 5000.

The mouse uses what they call "Bluepoint" technology for tracking, and I've got to say it tracks head and shoulders better than any other optical mouse I've used. The shape is very similar to older MS mice I have, quite tall and bulky. This isn't entirely a bad thing, it's easy to tell what you're up to, and to align the mouse in the hand. But it is chunky.

It's also a bit heavy. It feels like there's a rock in the bottom. But it moves well enough.

The scroll wheel doesn't have any detents, like my older Microsft mouse. This is taking some getting used to. I still feel like I have plenty of control when scrolling, but when there's no immediate response from what I'm scrolling in, the smooth scroll makes me wonder more whether the scrolling is registering. It's a sort of back-of-the-brain thing that acclimatization, more than anything.

Why a Duck Mouse?

For this use I didn't really want a mouse, I wanted something on the keyboard itself, like a trackpad or joymouse. However, I have to say that I'm pretty happy, the excellent tracking of the mouse makes up for having to use a mouse at all. That and the fact that the keyboard is excellent, and feels good when I use it.

Final Ranking
I've been using the keyboard for about a week now, and I've written about 75,000 words of text on it, possibly more. It hasn't vexed me at all, which is saying a lot. I'm considering getting one for my iMac desktop as well.

I'm gonna give the MS Wireless Desktop 3000 a rating of "excellent."

Aaaah. It's a joy to type on a good keyboard.

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