Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop for Bluetooth

Bluetooth products when launched, they were meant to change the way in which we worked. Four years on and we are only just starting to see applications that you might actually want. Microsoft thinks it has one in the shape of a Keyboard and Mouse combination set.

The keyboard comes in blue - you see the connection now don’t you, yes it is worrying - and the keys are responsive to touch. As your main input into the computer keyboards are a sensitive thing, change too much and it takes days if not weeks to get use to a new layout.

Strangely then, Microsoft has fiddled with the layout. Keen observers will note that the delete key has increased in size (to the equivalent of two standard keys). “Home” and “End” are placed side by side and “Page Up” and “Page Down” on top of one another. To a non-MS keyboard user this makes for hard work trying to re-acquaint yourself with touch typing.

The other main difference to an £8 keyboard you would find on the market is the usual array of Microsoft multimedia keys. The handy to use shortcuts are all software programmable to suit your needs, but at setup are set to include - My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, Mail, Web/Home, Calculator, Messenger as well as audio functions to play CDs or music files via Windows Media Player. In addition to these there is also the ability to set alternative options to the function keys such as print, copy, spell etc.

Mouse control is given through the accompanying right-handed optical mouse. The device is heavy - partly due to the two AA batteries it takes - and two buttons (used for forward and back) are placed just above the thumb indent. This is not the most advanced mouse in the Microsoft range and those looking for more buttons will be disappointed.

Both units connect to the PC via a Bluetooth transceiver that plugs into a docking cradle and then into the computer via a USB socket. For the laptop bound there is a USB dongle included in the box allowing you to ditch the cradle. The box boasts the technology will work up to a distance of 30 feet (10m) but to be truthful in tests we couldn’t tell because we were unable to see our computer screen.

Verdict

It’s interesting to see that technology destined to change the way we work and communicate has ended up being nothing more than a way to securely connect a keyboard and a mouse to a PC. Therfore it smacks of overkill unless you really like wordprocessing in bed. Due to Bluetooth Licensing, the Bluetooth adapter included in this box only services three of the possible 14 licences. Before you get excited, this does not include PDA’s, cameras or laptops.

However if you’re looking for a way to get your desk wire free and stylish at the same time then this is certainly the expensive way to do it as there are other non-Bluetooth, but just as wireless devices available on the market. All we suggest however, is that you make sure you’re happy with the new “Delete” key layout - to some, the transition will be flawless, to others like ourselves, you’ll be kicking and screaming like a child who has just dropped his ice cream.