Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000

The Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000 is the first Windows 7 compatible desktop solution from Microsoft to feature the new "Taskbar Favourites" buttons along the top of the keyboard.

Building on the now standard "Windows key", the result promises to give you instant access to the first five applications on the taskbar without the need to manually set it up all from your keyboard, but do you need it? We got typing to find out.

The keyboard features Microsoft’s Comfort Curve layout, which means that the key layout is slightly curved and the keys have an irregular size. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but it’s by no means as bad as some of the more "exotic" ergonomic keyboards out there that we've tried - remember the first ergonomic split keyboard anyone?

Typing, we found the keys felt a little bit stiff giving numb feedback. It's not the end of the world, but it's something that could be improved upon for a more comfortable typing experience.

Perhaps aimed at someone who has never seen a keyboard before, some of the keys also feature handy tips on what they do if you press them in combination with another key on the keyboard, such as the Ctrl key. It's a nice idea, but please, do you really need to be told that Ctrl and V is paste?

The function keys have been demoted to a thin line of very tiny keys between the keyboard and the quick launch keys. There’s an F lock key which has to be pressed to enable them to be used in traditional Function key mode, as otherwise they have been assigned new functions that seems to generally work well within office applications such as print, save and spell check. Above the numerical keypad is also a quick launch button for the calculator and a low battery warning light although Microsoft say you shouldn't need to worry about power issues that often.

There’s of course the usual array of quick access keys as well. They take you to things such as your web browser and email application, but new on this model is access to the My Documents and My Pictures folders as well. There’s also a set of media playback and control keys as well as volume controls. All these keys are grouped in a single row at the top of the keyboard and they’re somewhat stiff to press and for some reason have a very glossy finish.

This being ergonomic you get a wrist rest. It is rubberised and textured, but not so much that it feels uncomfortable, although we have to say it gives off an unusual feeling.

Two little rubber "pucks" also come in the package and these can are twisted in to place either at the rear or the front of the keyboard depending on your preference to raise it up from the desk.

Get to the mouse, as this is after all a desktop package, and you get the Microsoft Wireless Mouse 5000. It's an ambidextrous BlueTrack mouse that has rubberised grips around the sides, a total of four buttons and a slightly too loose scroll wheel that ends up going amok if you don’t move it very slowly.

The scroll wheel can also be tilted for sideways scrolling. The Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000 comes with a mini-transceiver that operates at 2.4GHz and has a range of about 30 feet or 10 metres.

Verdict

Overall the Microsoft Comfort Desktop 5000 is a pretty solid package for anyone that is looking for an ergonomic keyboard, although at £47 ($79.99), it’s on the expensive side for what you get.

The Wireless Mouse 5000 is available in far cheaper bundles and we’d really want a more ergonomic mouse in a package like this.

That said, once you get past the initial anxiety of the keyboard layout, it is quite comfortable to type on despite the slightly numb feedback. It doesn’t take long to get used to, unlike some other ergonomic keyboards we've tried in the past and the new Windows 7 dedicated buttons are useful but by no means a life and death scenario.

If you've already signed up to Windows 7 and are in the market for a new keyboard this is one to check out.



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