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A Mouse and Keyboard for Discriminating Advisors

Taking a test drive of the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution.

Joel P. Bruckenstein, 06/12/2008

When I visit advisors' offices, I'm often surprised to see that employees are using the inexpensive keyboards and mice that come standard with typical business computers. That is a shame, because I'm convinced that premium devices are more comfortable and can easily boost productivity by 5%-10%. That might not sound like a big deal, but just a 1% productivity increase for a $30,000 per year employee implies a payback period of just a few months. For highly compensated employees and principals, any productivity increase at all will yield an almost immediate payback.

Over the last several years, my favorite keyboard/mouse combination has been the Microsoft Optical Desktop Elite for Bluetooth. I liked the scroll wheel on the keyboard, the resistance of the keys, and the placement of the customizable buttons. In addition, I liked both the feel and the responsiveness of the mouse. Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason, the mouse ceased to function properly recently. A software update provided a temporary fix, but shortly thereafter the problem resurfaced. After a few tries at repairing it, I threw in the towel and threw out the Microsoft Optical Desktop Elite for Bluetooth.

Following a brief period of exasperation over the untimely demise of my favorite keyboard/mouse combination, I tried to make the best of the situation. Rather than mope around, I decided to obtain a couple of newer keyboards for review, in the hopes that I could find a suitable replacement for the set that had died. After a quick visit to the Microsoft and Logitech sites to familiarize myself with the current crop of keyboard/mouse combinations, I decided to try two premium cordless desktop sets; one from Logitech, which I'll discuss today and one from Microsoft, which I'll cover next month.

From Logitech I selected the new Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution, which lists for $169.99 (Recent Amazon price: $106.99 after rebate). For my Microsoft selection I chose the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 7000 which list for $129.95 (Recent Amazon price: $117.84). As is the case with many premium keyboard/mouse sets today, both of these communicate with the computer via a Bluetooth connection.

A number of factors drew me to the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution. One was the excellent MX Revolution Cordless Laser Mouse. When I look for a mouse, comfort is the top priority. This one, with its deeply sculpted thumb rest, is a little unusual, but it is very comfortable.

I also like a mouse that is feature packed, and this one fits the bill. The advanced laser tracking mechanism is extremely accurate, and it functions well on most surfaces. The scroll wheel on the top of the mouse can function in two different modes: regular scrolling mode and hyperfast scrolling. The latter mode is designed to allow users to navigate large documents and spreadsheets rapidly, and it performed up to my expectations after a brief period of adjustment. Right under the scroll wheel is a small button that can be used to launch searches from within your favorite search engine.

There are two small buttons on the left side of the mouse. By default, they act as "forward" and "back" buttons. If you are in a web browser, PowerPoint presentation, etc, the back button will take you to the previous web page or PowerPoint slide. In the thumb rest area there is document flip scroll wheel. What this allows you to do is scroll between open applications or documents. Again, it takes a bit of getting used to, but if you consistently work in multiple applications or documents, and most of us do, this flip feature is very convenient. As is the case with almost all premium mice and keyboards, the buttons are user customizable, so it there is another function you regularly perform, and you want to control it wit a mouse button, you probably can.

If all or the above were not enough, this mouse is rechargeable. You can put it in a little stand when it is not in use and the battery recharges. A single charge can last up to two weeks, and there is a battery indicator on the mouse to let you know when power is running low.

The keys are a bit softer than the ones on my previous model, but they are typical of other Logitech models I've used in the past. The keyboard, which is slimmer than my old Microsoft one, is also feature packed. There are buttons to launch MS Office applications, e-mail, a Web browser, search engines, and other functions. To the left of the keyboard are forward and back buttons and volume controls. To the left of these are zoom controls and a document flip button. Buttons on the lower right launch the media center, photo gallery, and gadgets.

At the top of the keyboard, Logitech includes an LCD display. This can display useful information like the date and time, media information (song, length), temperature, message notifications, calculator, caps lock indicator, and key counter. I found this to be a helpful addition.

During my trials, using the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, but there were a few minor annoyances along the way. First of all, the getting started guide is a bit weak. A little more detail would be welcome. Also, it is very important that you use the most recent release of the Logitech SetPoint software and remove any previous versions before installing the new one. The guide mentions this, but the mention should be more prominent.

Perhaps the most annoying thing was that some of the help and documentation was too general. Most of it did not address the features of my particular model. When I had trouble getting the keyboard's built-in calculator to work, I was not able to find much documentation in the help section. A quick e-mail to Tech Support suggested that I unplug USB scanners and printers, temporarily turn off my security suite and restart the computer. That fixed the issue.

Although there were a few glitches setting up and customizing the keyboard to my liking, for most people this will be a one time affair that you can live with. Once the keyboard is installed and configured, it's a pleasure to use. It's comfortable and responsive. All the hot keys that most advisors need are easily accessible. Although the mouse has a somewhat unique design, I adapted to it quickly and I find it both comfortable and responsive. If you are looking for a comfortable, customizable, feature packed keyboard/mouse package the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution is worthy of serious consideration.

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