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Another Mouse and Keyboard for Your Consideration

Joel takes a look at the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 7000.

Joel P. Bruckenstein, 07/10/2008

Last month, I told of the demise of my keyboard/mouse set and I reviewed the first of two serious replacement contenders, the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution. Although both the mouse and the keyboard had a distinctly different feel than my previous set, and even though I ran into a few minor glitches during the installation process, by the time I completed my initial tests, I decided that I liked the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution a lot.

This month I look at the other new keyboard/mouse combination, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 7000. Since my previous keyboard/mouse set, the Microsoft Optical Desktop Elite for Bluetooth, was from the same manufacturer, and since the suggested retail price for both units was identical, I had high hopes.

As was the case when I selected the Logitech set last month for review, I was looking for a premium set that offered plenty of features without sacrificing comfort and usability. A cursory examination of the Microsoft Hardware Web site led me to believe that this set might be a good choice. As was the case with the Logitech set, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 7000 features what appeared to be an excellent rechargeable cordless laser mouse: The Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 7000. Although this mouse didn't feature as many buttons as last month's entry, the picture led me to believe that it had sufficient capabilities, and it appeared that it would be comfortable. I was not disappointed.

The Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 fit very comfortably in my hand. It is contoured, but the lines are not as extreme as those on the Logitech, so the transition might be easier for those used to a more traditional basic mouse shape. Precision and responsiveness were excellent.

Functionality was more than sufficient for all but the most demanding users. In addition to the traditional left and right mouse buttons, there is a scroll wheel capable of four way scrolling (up and down and side to side). By default, pushing down the scroll button launches the "instant viewer." This function takes all the open windows and tiles them for simultaneous viewing. This is extremely helpful for those who work with multiple windows on a regular basis, as many financial professionals do. When you see the one you want, you can click on it to select it. That window will then appear in the full screen view.

Two small buttons reside on the left side of the mouse where the thumb rests. By default, the front thumb button launches a magnifier and the right acts as a "back" button, but these are only the default settings. Using the included software, you can customize all of your buttons by choosing from a wide range of options.

According to Microsoft, the keyboard is "ergonomist approved." Unlike some ergonomic keyboards I've seen, however, this one's design is not so severe as to turn off traditional keyboard users. The keyboard keys have a slight curve to them. The keys are relatively soft and quiet.

The keyboard comes loaded with specialty keys. On the left, there are buttons to zoom in and out. Above those, there are buttons to open the My Pictures folder and the My Documents folder. In the upper let are the communications buttons. There is one to launch the Web browser (there's also a "back" button), one to launch the e-mail program, and one to launch Live Messenger. Next comes three favorites buttons that you can program to do whatever you want them to. To the right of these are all the audio/video buttons (volume, mute, launch Windows Media Player, etc.).

The function buttons reside under these buttons. The function buttons serve a dual purpose. Each can serve as a function key in the function mode, or they can serve as shortcut keys when not in the function mode. Some of the shortcuts include open a new document, close a document, send, forward, or reply to e-mail, and spell check. There's also a calculator button, an instant viewer button, and an application button (serves the same purpose as right clicking the mouse).

My experience installing and setting up/customizing the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 7000 went flawlessly. Setting up a Bluetooth set like the Logitech one I tested last month can admittedly be more complicated, but the problems I had setting up the Logitech were not related to Bluetooth.

As was the case with Logitech, much of the help file is generic. It is not specific to one set, so you find information in there that has nothing to do with the mouse or keyboard you are using. It does, however, eliminate the need to uninstall and install software if you change from one Microsoft set to another.

As was the case with the Logitech mouse, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 is rechargeable. When not in use, you put in its charger stand and it recharges over night. The good news when it comes to rechargeable mice is that they are rechargeable, which means you will not be needlessly adding to a local landfill and you won't have to worry about running out of batteries. The bad news is that the charger requires an outlet, so if those are at a premium in your workspace you might not want this mouse.

When comparing the Microsoft charger with the Logitech one, I had a distinct preference for the Logitech design. The Logitech set stores the mouse vertically. This not only saves desk space, but it also makes it easy to fit the mouse properly into the charger. Microsoft's charger sits the mouse horizontally so it takes up more space, and I also found it more difficult to seat the mouse properly on the Microsoft charger.

So which keyboard/mouse set is better? There is no clear winner. I've continued to use the Logitech set on one of my two primary computers, and after an additional month of using it, my enthusiasm for the set hasn't waned. If anything, I like it more now than when I originally installed it. I like the way both the mouse and the keyboard feel now that I've gotten used to them, and the additional mouse buttons are proving useful. On the other hand, I can certainly understand how some would prefer the Microsoft set, particularly if you like a gently curved ergonomic keyboard and/or a more traditionally styled mouse.

I guess the lesson here is not that one premium set is better than another. The lesson is that either one of these sets I've reviewed blows away the cheap sets that come standard with most computers. If you are using a basic mouse and keyboard I can virtually guarantee you that you will increase productivity by 5%-10% if you upgrade, and you will enjoy working with your computer more too. Both the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution and the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 7000 are excellent sets. Try them both and buy the one that feels most comfortable to you today. You'll be glad that you did.

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