Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop

I had a chance to try out one of the latest Microsoft home entertainment Bluetooth wireless keyboard and laser mouse sets, shown below.  You can check out the full image gallery here.

I had a chance to try out one of the latest Microsoft home entertainment Bluetooth wireless keyboard and laser mouse sets, shown below.  You can check out the full image gallery here.

This is the Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000, which includes an entire kit with a Bluetooth receiver, Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 7000, Wireless Laser Mouse 8000, and a mouse charger.

The Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 7000 even includes an extra mouse track-pad so you can use just the keyboard without a mouse. The function keys are non-mechanical touch sensitive. There are also extra keys for controlling Windows Media Center and the Vista Gadgets, though that can be redirected at other applications. The keyboard feels mechanically solid, but it feels more like typing on a laptop since the keys don't depress that much given how thin the keyboard is. Since the keyboard is still full size with good tactile feedback and is slightly split angle, speed typing wasn't a problem.

The back of the Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 7000 has indents for gripping. This allows you to grip the edges of the keyboard and work the mouse track-pad with your right thumb and the mouse buttons with your left thumb, which is useful for situations when you're standing up with no place to lay the keyboard down.

A profile view of the Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 7000 shows just how thin it is. I've been using just the keyboard in my living room, and it has served as a useful "remote control" for controlling the PC hooked up to my DLP display. The spec on the keyboard and mouse says it will work 30 feet away, and I actually got it to work at 40 feet without any problems. While you're not going to be using the track-pad mouse on the keyboard for precision shooting in a game anytime soon, it is good enough to get by. The laser mouse 8000 works well, but you're not always going to be sitting at a place with a surface you can use the mouse effectively on.

The Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 comes with a USB Bluetooth receiver that emulates a normal USB keyboard so that it can work in legacy mode, such as the system BIOS. This lets you connect the keyboard and mouse wirelessly, but you can also attach additional Bluetooth devices like your PDA/phone or headset.

The scroll wheel on the Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 not only scrolls up and down, but it also tilts to the left and right. There are four mouse buttons and a battery indicator in the middle. The mouse uses a standard Nickel Metal Hydride rechargeable AA battery, which can be charged through the mouse. The whole kit includes a charging pad for the mouse, which requires its own AC adapter. You also get four regular AA batteries for the wireless keyboard, which tends to last a long time, and you get one rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride battery.  Mice usually take a lot more power than the keyboard, so they need to be charged relatively often--once a week.

This Bluetooth keyboard/mouse set isn't cheap at around $120 to $130 mail order price, but Bluetooth input devices like this usually don't come much cheaper, especially at this quality level. It wouldn't be a bad device to have for an office computer because you're adding Bluetooth capability to your PC, which allows you to add devices, like a Bluetooth headset for VoIP applications or speech dictation, or sync your Bluetooth-enabled phone or PDA. The one downside for office usage is that it doesn't have a numeric pad, which many people don't use anyway, and the function keys are non-mechanical touch only.