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Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 7000 review

Verdict:

Needs USB port

Review Date: 1 Jul 2008

Price when reviewed: (£64.67 ex VAT)

Reviewed By: Kenny Hemphill

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

According to Microsoft, the greatest benefits of the Wireless Laser Desktop 7000 are that it brings 'the beauty of Windows Aero' to your desktop, and that it enables instant access to Windows 3D, neither of which is reason enough for a Mac user to rush out and buy this wireless keyboard and mouse set.

It does, however, have plenty to commend it besides the Windows-specific features. Both keyboard and mouse connect to your Mac by way of a USB transceiver, which is about the size of a USB memory stick. And once you've installed the Microsoft drivers, both are immediately recognised.

The ergonomic mouse, also available separately, takes a single AAA rechargeable battery and is recharged by placing it on a stand, which is plugged into the mains. The keyboard isn't rechargeable and uses two AA batteries. A status LED on top of the mouse indicates when it needs charging and serves as a good reminder if you forget to place it on the stand when you leave your desk.

The mouse is designed for right-handed use, so if you're left-handed this isn't the product for you. It's moulded to allow your hand to sit easily on it and recesses for fingers and thumb make it very comfortable to use. The contrast between the rough matt finish on the top and smooth glossy surface on the side is a little odd, though. In addition to left and right buttons, and a scrollwheel, there are two small buttons just above where your thumb sits. One of these magnifies the screen and allows you to control the level of magnification using the scrollwheel in a similar manner to holding down the Ctrl key. The scrollwheel is the smoothest we've used.

The wireless keyboard is designed to fit with the translucent effects of Windows Aero and looks rather stylish. The smoky plastic trim is effective against the matt black and silver keyboard. This is a full-size keyboard, unlike Apple's wireless offering, and has 12 function keys and a numeric keypad. There's also a row of 'media' buttons along the top of the keyboard for controlling iTunes and opening your mail and web browsing applications. There are also buttons for opening photos (which opens your Pictures folder) and Calculator.

The main part of the keyboard is curved in order to make typing more comfortable, and there's a padded wrist-rest, which runs along the bottom of the keyboard. We found the curved keyboard made typing more difficult initially. However, once we'd been using it for a while and adapted to the spacing and position of the keys, it was as natural as typing on any other keyboard.

More of a hindrance is the tiny Shift key on the left-hand side of the keyboard. This is very difficult to hit without looking at what you are doing. While the Shift key on the right of the keyboard is full-size, we'd have preferred it the other way around.

The keys themselves have a somewhat spongy feel. There's plenty of feedback, but little travel, and if you're the kind of person who likes a click-click keyboard, this is one to be avoided as it's almost silent. Like all keyboards designed for Windows, the Command and Alt keys are in the wrong position and need to be swapped in software. Thankfully, Microsoft's driver has a checkbox to do just that.

If you want a full-size wireless keyboard for your Mac, then you'll have to look beyond Apple, which probably means buying a keyboard designed for Windows. This one is as good as any we've tried and the extra buttons can be useful, as is the Magnify feature on the mouse. More important is the fact that the Wireless Laser Desktop 700 is comfortable to use and works well. It's not cheap, and far from perfect, but we like it nonetheless.

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