These days it seems everyone has a digital camera, with rolls of used film now being replaced by folders and folders of photos in of the most prevalent digital movements in the 21st century. One of the latest Microsoft hardware packages is designed simplify and improve your digital photo experience by combining an excellent digital imaging software package with hardware with digital imaging specific features. Microsoft has released the newest version of the Microsoft Optical Desktop by transforming some Microsoft classics (Comfort Curve Keyboard and Wireless Optical Mouse) into photo editing tools. To accomplish that task, Microsoft has included the well-versed Microsoft Digital Image 2006 Standard software. Does the mouse and keyboard combo live up to its promises? Read on to find out.
Microsoft Wireless Comfort Curve Keyboard
Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse
Microsoft Digital Image Standard 2006
Setup & Installation
Mouse & Keyboard Setup: The
installation is quite simple. First, just insert the CD which comes with the
keyboard and mouse. You will install the IntelliType 5.2 and IntelliPoint
5.2 software, neither of which are required (though needed for the advanced
button functionality). Nothing really has changed since last year's
versions. The wireless receiver is almost 5 inches long and three inches
high, and works with either PS/2 or USB ports. Of course,
Microsoft has included four sealed Energizer AA batteries for the keyboard
and mouse. When the receiver is plugged in you just push the button then
press the corresponding connect buttons on both the mouse and keyboard to
establish a connecting frequency. With that done you should be all set to
go! The photo specific features of the keyboard will work only with
Microsoft Digital Image 2006 and not other photo-editing software.
Therefore, to use those features you must install Microsoft Digital Image
2006 which is included in the package.
Microsoft IntelliType Pro Software
If you would like to adjust your keyboard settings, i.e. reprogram its hotkeys, then you’ll want to install Microsoft IntelliType Pro 5.2 software. Installation of the IntelliType Pro 5.2 software (although not needed) is a breeze. Just pop in the CD included or download the software (about 8 MB). To customize your keys, select either “Keyboard” from the Control Panel or “Microsoft Keyboard” from the Program menu. On the Key Settings tab, you’ll see a list of thirty hot key defaults, which you can reprogram if you like. Another nice feature is you can print out a list of the key assignments, which is good for those who like to reprogram a significant amount of keys. From here you can edit your key assignments from a list of fifty-five available commands. Options include disabling, programming to open a webpage or file, and reprogramming to fit Microsoft’s available commands. Some keys, however, such as the Caps Lock, you can only disable the key, not reprogram it.
To customize your keys, select either “Keyboard” from the Control Panel or “Microsoft Keyboard” from the Program menu. On the Key Settings tab, you’ll see a list of thirty hot key defaults, which you can reprogram if you like. Another nice feature is you can print out a list of the key assignments, which is good for those who like to reprogram a significant amount of keys. From here you can edit your key assignments from a list of fifty-five available commands. Options include disabling, programming to open a webpage or file, and reprogramming to fit Microsoft’s available commands. Some keys, however, such as the Caps Lock, you can only disable the key, not reprogram it.
Microsoft IntelliPoint Software
If you want to customize your mouse, you will have to install IntelliPoint (about 7 MB). To customize your mouse keys, select either "Mouse" for the Control Panel or "Microsoft Mouse" from the program menu. On the buttons tab you can click on the different buttons and reassign the keys to a variety of functions. In this software you can also change your pointers, other pointer options, view which hardware is connected, change scrolling options, and view wireless features. The software is easy to use and is required for advanced functionality of the mouse.
The Wireless Optical Mouse sizes up at 4.5 inches long, 3 inches wide and an 1.5 inches high. The mouse has a dark blue finish around the top and middle, with a sleek black design on the bottom sides. The black has a very "tech" feel, it is very subtle and appeasing to look at. As you can see in the image below, there is a nice silver Microsoft "Optical Technology" logo on the front of the mouse.
The Wireless Optical Mouse has 2 extra buttons on the left and a scroll wheel (which also serves as a button), so there is a total of five programmable buttons. One of the new features of the mouse is the magnifier button. This new magnifier allows you to bring an zoom box on the screen in all types of programs. One really cool thing about this feature is if say you use it in Excel, you can edit within the zoom box. This feature is a much improved version of the accessibility magnifier feature within Windows. The scroll wheel has the tilt technology feature, which helps scroll left and right. The scroll wheel is a transparent white. The mouse has a similar, but improved look as previous wireless desktops. The size makes this mouse easy to use for long periods of times, without irritating the wrist (something I particularly find important). Unlike the Bluetooth IntelliMouse Explorer, this mouse will only work 6-10 feet away from the base at any given time. The upside, though, is the mouse will use less battery power overall, as Microsoft is now claiming a battery life over 6 months or longer.
Microsoft High Definition Optical Technology
Microsoft has provided a well deserved
update to an already great optical technology. This product includes the new
Microsoft High Definition Optical Technology which aims to improve
performance at much higher levels than the previous optical technology. The
technology is 6000 frames per second (FPS) - an improvement over the 2500
FPS of most of the previous optical mice. Other technology improvements that
have been made include 1000 dots per inch (DPI) resolution, 85 million
operations per second (MOPS), .18 CMOS technology and the Microsoft
Intelligent Tracking System. Microsoft optical technologies have been well
tested for many years now and work smoothly on most surfaces. It has been
broken-in well with previous mice, so you know you won’t have any problem.
This keyboard is an update of one of Microsoft’s newer keyboard designs in 2004, and offers photo-specific improvements in style and features over its’ predecessor. The keyboard has a standard length of 19 inches and width of 9.5. The keyboard is very slim at 1.5 inches high, although still very sturdy. The design has a matte silver finish with matte black keys. The top of the keyboard, above the function keys, is matte blue (same dark color as the middle of the mouse). The palm rest is attached with a very comfortable matte black rubber material.
Starting from the left, there are the five designated function buttons on
the curved part, now called the "Photo Center": Library, Edit, Send, Print
and Slide Show. The "Photo Center" buttons automatically open the
corresponding feature within Microsoft Digital Image 2006. These buttons are
in the curvature of the buttons is the Zoom Slider, a feature new this year
to Microsoft's keyboards. The zoom function is 2 inches long and a half inch
wide (we'll get to the functionality in a bit).
In the top bar, there are media (Play, Stop, pause, etc.) keys, and in the
center are the “favorite” keys. These keys, 1-5 can be assigned for any
function. The center star key brings up the assign box where you can
designate which keys have which functions. Next there are the remaining
standard keys calculator,
log off, and sleep, on the far right. All keys can be reassigned however by
using IntelliType Pro software. There is also an F Lock key where you can switch
between standard and enhanced functions.
The Zoom Slider
One of the new features of the comfort curve keyboard when it was released last year is the Zoom Slider, as we mentioned earlier. The Zoom Slider is perfect for those of you who want to zoom in on digital images, graphics, etc. (the best use we have found for the product), or to a lesser extent, text and web pages. You can control the zooming speed, have "accelerated zooming" and more all through the IntelliType software included. There are a variety of programs that work with the Zoom Slider (even though the other photo buttons work only with Digital Image 2006): Word, Picture Viewer, AOL, PhotoShop, Office, Visio, Acrobat, Acrobat Reader, PageMaker, even Netscape and many more. Strangely though, it does not work will all Microsoft products: Frontpage, MapPoint, Lotus, etc. Click to view the full list of non-compatible products or compatible products, respectively.
This product is perfect for those who love digital photos and feel there is room for an improvement for their overall digital image experience. The keyboard design has been refined over last year's model and provides an updated look over previous desktops, though still not of the "natural" form though somewhat ergonomic. The Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 5000 is good looking and indeed, fairly comfortable. The mouse has four buttons (including the new magnifier feature), not to mention the multi-function tilting scroll wheel, so I feel those who seek the most functionality will enjoy this product. The photo-specific features of the product have been combined well with the Microsoft Digital Image 2006 photo editing software. However, that stated, because the photo features of the keyboard do not work with other photo software, this keyboard is not for digital professionals, but rather a sophisticated home user. Also, Microsoft includes four Energizer batteries for the mouse and keyboard, which I feel is completely classy since the standard generics are not included. I feel the price is excellent considering the Digital Image 2006 Standard software is $50 alone.