Microsoft Wireless Desktop 5000 Imaging Package
- Comfortable to use, good selection of keys
- Problems with wireless transmission, standard batteries rather than rechargeables
A very comfortable keyboard and mouse solution that looks slick but is let down by poor implementation of the wireless technology.
Price$ None (AUD)
The Microsoft Desktop 5000 combination pack is a mouse and keyboard package with a difference. It comes with a package of Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006, included free in the box, and the keyboard is design specifically to take advantage of image software functionality.
This takes the form of extra buttons along the left hand side, which give quick access to basic image operations such as printing and editing. It also sports a slick "zoom slider" that allows you to zoom in and out of a picture. The keyboard doesn't get all the fun however - the mouse can also be of use, offering a magnify function that zooms in on anything present on the screen, be it a picture or a website. For the vision impaired or just the optically lazy, your time has come!
Unfortunately we found these functions to be largely useless. When we cracked open the wondrous "imaging keyboard" we were expecting cut and paste buttons, maybe some access to drawing and paintting tools; something that would really help us. Instead we were greeted with a bunch of largely superfluous tools. The only truly interesting shortcut presented here was the zoom slider, which, to be honest, we couldn't stop playing with.
Imaging keys aside, the other shortcuts were quite impressive. The Desktop 5000 is almost a fully functional media keyboard in its own right, presenting play, stop, track skip and volume buttons in a neat row along the top. There are also five favourites keys, that can be linked to common websites or applications, and the top left corner hides buttons for calculator, sleep mode and logging off. We were much more impressed with this set of functions, all of which were well laid out and worked perfectly.
We were equally pleased with the keyboard design. The keypad has an ergonomic layout, with the middle keys stretched to fit the pattern of the human hand, and whilst it took us a few minutes to grow accustomed to the curvature of the pad, once we had it was much more comfortable than a regular design. The padded wrist rest enhanced this. It sprouts out from the base of the keyboard and makes long typing sessions just that little bit less of a strain. Overall we found this to be one of the most comfortable keyboards we've ever used.
That said there was a serious problem that really came to the fore during these sessions; the keyboard has a habit of missing some letters. It doesn't happen very often, perhaps once every paragraph, but it gets extremely annoying extremely quickly. We type thousands of words a day, and having to go back every couple of sentences to correct something that you have no control over quickly drives you up the wall. We unplugged and re-plugged the transmitter, moved it around the desk, read all of the troubleshooting options as well as trying both the PS2 and USB connections, but nothing we did fixed the problem for us.
This problem could be put down to poorly implemented wireless technology. Both the keyboard and mouse run off a single wireless transmitter that is as large as a moue by itself. It was quick and painless to set up, and apart from the aforementioned problem (which may or may not be a wireless defect) we suffered no drop outs or lag.
The mouse was definitely the stronger of the two components. Microsoft has gone with a similar, ridged design to Logitech's MX series with their Intellimice, which offers an extremely comfortable grip but excludes left handers. It felt reasonably accurate, if not mind blowing, but the design is exceptionally good. The top and side both have grooves for the fingers and the body is quite large, so it sat really well in our hands.
The controls are fairly standard, with two internet buttons on the side complementing the left and right mouse keys. We particularly loved the soft rubber scroll wheel, which flows easily and doesn't give off that irritating click at every interval, as has become standard on most mice.
Both components use basic alkaline batteries, which is a big annoyance. Other wireless products offer cradles or cables for charging, and whilst you can purchase third party batteries, it will still be a hassle to swap and change.
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