Performance - 7
Quality (Design & Build) - 8
Packaging - 7
Value - 8
This is the first time I’ve ever used anything wireless, and I have to say it’s pretty nice. So nice in fact, I didn’t even have to buy batteries; they include 6 AA rechargeable batteries in the package (Box states 4 Rechargeable, 2 Normal AA), and the base station can be used as a charger for the batteries.
The feel of this setup is nice, although bit odd because of the key layout, the layout of the keys are in an A shape instead of the typical key layout. Maybe it is because I’m typing this in linux with openoffice; I have a dual boot system set up and will be typing this in both linux and windows to give you an idea of how well it works with both. Granted driver/software support is limited to windows, as of this article, linux is not supported, but an email sent to them revealed they are working on linux support. Good news for us who don’t like living with just the “normal”.
At first glance, the keyboard and mouse look sharp, a nice black on silver which matches my case and monitor rather well. The layout of the keys are in a configuration as to help alleviate stress on the wrist in addition to the included wrist rest. The mouse is also designed in a way as to reduce total stress. Over all it’s awkward at first but you get used to it quickly.
Along with the standard keys, you have multiple keys included to increase the amount of functions, there are 33 additional keys and a ‘Navig-Wheel Bar’ as they call it. The “Navig-Wheel Bar” is basically a wheel to scroll up and down a page without having to remove your hands from the keyboard. The mouse has 5 extra buttons to add to the left, right, and middle mouse buttons. The next section will describe the functions of the mouse and keyboard.
As I had mentioned above there are 33 extra keys on the keyboard to increase functionality. With the included software disc, this will allow you to assign some custom commands to some of them.
Let me take you on a little tour: On the lower left hand side of the keyboard are a few office functions and the scroll bar (Copy, paste, undo, and cut), just above the scroll bar is a few more function keys (Toggle, close, Back, forward), the almost normal sleep, and an included power button. On the upper portion across the top from left to right, you have a section for Office functions, specifically used for Office/web, included are a New, Word, Excel, WWW, and an E-Mail button. In the center you have the Media Section and a few more office keys, including a key called “office” which functions as the F-lock, meaning with it off you have use of your F Keys, and with it on you have several office and email functions, also a log off key. The last section of this is a web section, you have several programmable keys on this that will allow you to set your homepage with the ‘My com’ button.
The mouse is especially customizable; with 56 different custom commands to use, you may find you’ll like using your mouse again. I must note, you need to install the software before you can use the customizations and a few of the buttons. The mouse buttons in windows function like any other mouse. In linux, the keyboard and mouse work just as in windows minus the software and the extra functionality of the 33 keys, the scroll bar does work as intended in linux. The mouse itself is rather heavy because of the batteries, making it kind of bulky.
The RF receiver is USB 1.1 and features 2 channel output and has 255 user id codes, it doubles as a battery charger for the 6 included AA batteries, making it able to function with other wireless products you may be using. Both the keyboard and the mouse have a Transmission Range up to 2 m or 6.5 ft. And did work to that range, maybe a little more.
**Note** I did not have any other wireless products to test compatibility.
Software installation is nothing special; that is if I could install the software. The system I’m trying to install them on is a Windows XP Pro with SP2 installed and the drivers cause a continuous reboot loop when the wireless base station is plugged in. I have emailed them with no response as of the writing of this article. I’m sure this will be resolved with a simple driver update. Other than that, after cleaning the drivers from the system, the keyboard works as expected, just without the extra functions; same with the mouse.
The Software would be nice to test, but SP 2 is fairly new. And I don’t think you should have to reinstall an OS to use a keyboard and its software properly. So it loses a few points there. But the Basic function is solid.
The mouse is kinda speedy; I’m guessing this is because of the high refresh rate it uses, the refresh rate is rated at 800cps. Even with the mouse speed turned to it’s lowest in the windows control panel, it is still very fast., but as you use it, it becomes easier to use. Time is the best method for getting used to both the mouse and the keyboard.
The Games tested: Tactical Ops (http://www.atari.com/us/games/tacops/pc) which is compatible with both Windows© and Linux platforms.
Unreal Tournament 2004 (demo available here) Compatible with Both Linux and Windows© platforms (tested in Windows©)
The Apps tested: openoffice.org for linux (http://www.openoffice.org/) and Microsoft Office 2003© (mainly Microsoft Word™)
The reason for the multiplayer games is that you need both mouse and keyboard to play, which in this test, presents a problem. Gaming with this is very choppy and unresponsive. This is probably why this is marketed as an office keyboard instead of a gamer’s utensil. Using both the mouse and keyboard at the same time caused the problem, which I kind of expected. The main problem with it was when using both the mouse and keyboard at the same time, they keyboard would miss key presses, and the mouse was “jumpy”
The office test: The mouse and keyboard performed without a hitch. If I had software to test in windows I could have explained how much harder/easier it makes the job. I will of course await the email back letting me know if this is a known problem or not.
In the web test there were no noted problems, both performed as expected.
With the driver/software support not quite ready, I found this to be an average combo. It has a nice feel, it takes a little getting used to, but overall I find it to be satisfactory. Email takes a bit to get answered, response time was about a week, and Price is $99.99 MSRP.
- Works out of the box with no drivers. (Drivers are needed for extra functionality.)
- Comfortable feel, Anti RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) aids in comfort.
- Lots of functions with software, and works with other operating systems.
- Driver/software does not work with Windows© XP™ Service Pack 2 or Linux
- Mouse is a little too fast; keys are a little awkward at first.
- Takes some time to get used to, mouse can be a hassle due to size and bulk.
With a little better driver support for the latest versions of Windows©, and support for alternative Operating Systems, this keyboard and mouse combo could be a solid office product.