|Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop for Mac|
August 21, 2006 | Blake Buck
What's this? Microsoft has designed a piece of hardware specifically for the Mac? Hell must be getting pretty cold right about now. Microsoft's Wireless Laser Desktop for Mac takes their popular Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 line for the PC and brings it over to the Mac, with Mac specific buttons and functionality. But does this Desktop Set shine on the Mac like it does on the PC?
The Desktop Set includes a wireless ergonomic keyboard with Mac-specific buttons, mappable favorites, a zoom slider, and built-in leather palm rest. The Desktop Set also includes a wireless mouse with high-definition laser technology, five buttons, and a scroll / tilt wheel. Both the keyboard and mouse are powered by two double A batteries and connect to your Mac via a USB reciever.
SetupThe set comes in a fairly attractive yet rather bulky red and black box. After opening the box and throwing away all documentation, I insert the batteries and plug in the base station.
The first step is pairing up the base station with the keyboard and mouse. This is done by pressing a button on each of the devices, fairly simple. The keyboard and mouse are then recognized by my Mac, and OS X brings up a default keyboard wizard. It asks me to put in a few simple commands, and after following the short instructions my keyboard and mouse are ready to go! I can't believe this was so simple! But danger was lurking just around the corner...
HeadacheThe keyboard and mouse work fine and dandy, but none of the advanced features are working. I can't use the mac-specific buttons, mappable hot buttons, zoom slider, or the fourth and fifth mouse buttons! Microsoft thou hath betrayed me!
Of course, I look a little deeper into the packaging and find a CD-Rom with a third party driver installer. I pop in the disk, install two drivers in the preferences pane, restart, and finally can use the keyboard proper.
UsageFrom a strictly hardware perspective, this keyboard and mouse set is a real winner. The keyboard has a unique visual design with silver and translucent keys. It's more than a little remniscent of the the old 'Blue and White' Mac keyboards.
The keyboard finds a fantastic balance between a standard layout and a split ergonomic layout. This is achieved by making the keys in the middle of the keyboard (TYGHBN) larger. I'm a big fan of split ergonomic keyboards, but this set really finds the best balance between comfort and form factor.
The mouse is also an excellent piece of hardware. The invisible laser technology means you are getting the highest precision movements possible. It also has a deep thumb depression I really like and all the buttons are placed conveniently. The one thing I don't like is that the scroll wheel isn't 'clicky' like most, it's totally smooth. This makes swapping weapons in games like Quake 3 a very finicky task. Other than that, no big problems.
So everything's good right? Where is there a big 5 up at the top of this review? Read on...