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In Review: Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000

Brian Nash Staff Writer
Published 02-03-06
Graphic By: Jen Hight

Engage: Rant

If there is anything we tech geeks hate, itís a great product ruined by stupid engineering. What is this weekís rant of engineering stupidity that only a true geek could understand? Wireless keyboards. Yes, you heard me right! Wireless keyboards!

Now to be fair, they are pretty cool. This past Christmas, I received a Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse combo: the MS Wireless Laser Desktop 6000, to be specific. The keyboard is pretty good and the mouse feels great. Soon after using it, I noticedÖ there is no INSERT KEY! What crazy half-mad, half-insane monkey engineer thought this one through? No insert key? You must be crazy!

How can I program without using my nifty insert key, located conveniently above the cursor keys? Not very effectively, I must say! As with most people, copying and pasting is a routine procedure. However, some genius thought it would be a great idea to completely remove the key and put a massive delete key in place of it, as well as rearranging the home, end, page up and page down keys.

Good lord, I must be in insane land. Not only that, but the default driver set Alt-F4 to open a new window? What the hell? Since when has Alt-F4 ever meant to open a new window, or do anything of the like? We all know that Alt-F4 is used to close a window. So, upon driver installation, the first step is to reprogram the key. It is pretty easy to do, at least, but alasÖ not the greatest idea. And the scroll lock key has also been removed. That's okay I guess; I never really bothered with that key.

Now, my initial thought was to return this setup and get a nice Logitech keyboard and mouse set. Much to my chagrin, they use the same setup! Am I destined to have a wireless keyboard that has no easy insert key? Where I have to hit Ctrl-V to paste everything? Iím afraid so!

On top of that, the new ergonomic design isnít as nice as the design of previous Microsoft natural keyboards. I canít count the number of times Iíve hit 5 instead of 6 while playing World of Warcraft in the middle of the night.

The good things are in the keys

At least the new hotkeys are pretty neat. While I donít normally use them, they are pretty handy. Too bad the media buttons donít work in anything besides Windows Media Player. I actually ended up migrating to Windows Media Player due to this. God, I know, a techie using Window's built-in media player? Iím still shocked myself! Iím sure that if you have one of these keyboards, and you try using them in Windows Media player, youíll be hooked.

And I have to say, the keys feel wonderful. The five little buttons on the left side of the keyboard can be used as shortcut keys for any program. And what is that weird widget between those shortcut buttons and the rest of the keyboard? A really nifty zoom in and out slider! Yeah, it seems kind of gimmicky, but I really do absolutely love it. Itís great for Photoshop or other programs where your scroll wheel on the mouse may be bound to another function.

The volume control buttons are also really great. For those of you who play lots of games are music, I guarantee youíll end up using these three keys (volume up, down and mute) quite often. When Iím in the middle of a game or listening to music, itís a lot more convenient to use these keys than to go to the menu of a game to change the volume. There is also another set of five shortcut keys next to the volume control that can also be bound to any programs. The star key under those five will bring up a screen that shows what those 5 buttons do. Pretty nifty man!

And finally the mouse

The mouse is pretty sweet, too. It works wonders for me over my previous Intellimouse in programs like Photoshop. Being a laser mouse, it is extremely accurate. The extra weight of it (two AA batteries inside!) helps give you a bit more control over the mouse. Unfortunately, I havenít tried using the mouse in an FPS game (wireless devices usually are frowned upon for FPS games), but in World of Warcraft and Civilization 4, itís very comfortable and works very well. The two thumb buttons unfortunately are placed a bit high on the mouse and may be a stretch for some people. Its scroll wheel is pretty good too, but has no "clicks" to tell how much it's scrolled. This is the biggest impediment I could see when trying to play FPS games. The scroll wheel also moves horizontal.

After using the mouse and keyboard for several weeks, I really fell in love with the set. Granted, if I had found a Logitech set that had as nice a mouse and an insert key, I would have instantly traded this in. The range of RF wireless devices is quite short. I only get about three to five feet away before it starts to drop the signal. If you have the money, there is a similar Bluetooth set, but it is quite a bit more expensive.

Score?

Nine broken keys out of 10! I do love it even though it has some obvious faults, but the faults are shared by both Logitech and Microsoft wireless keyboard so I canít penalize them too much. However, this pack is a bit pricy, coming in at about $115 on the average. A hardcore gamer might want to stick with a wired mouse and perhaps a keyboard more suited to gaming. All others should fall in love with it after getting used to it.




Nash, the extreme gaming haaaX0r!

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