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Product: Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com
Estimated Street Price:
$104.95

Review By: Robert Stein

One of the latest hardware combinations coming out of Redmond is all about simplicity and style while being on the cutting edge of technology. Microsoft has released the newest version of the Microsoft Optical Desktop (now with fingerprint reader) in its attempt to jazz up some of the hardware on your desktop. This product follows a long line of stylish devices Microsoft has released this season (and actually includes variations of some of these devices). Using patented Optical Technology and sporting a black/ dark silver and hip design, Microsoft is trying to set a groove with people who want something sleek and stylish, yet functional, on their desktop. In addition; Microsoft is attempting to set the bar with the debut of the new biometric fingerprint reader available with this keyboard. Does the mouse and keyboard combo live up to its promises? Read on to find out.

Fingerprint Reader Technology
Now you can log on to your computer and your favorite Web sites with the touch of your finger, without having to remember all those passwords—simply place your finger on the receiver whenever a password or username is required.

Tilt Wheel Technology
Scroll every which way. Now you can scroll horizontally as well as vertically through documents and Web pages. The entire wheel tilts, acts as a button, and reacts smoothly to your speed.

Optical Technology
Optical technology refers to the use of an optical sensor to track mouse movement, rather than the traditional use of mechanical parts. As a result, optical mouse products work on most surfaces and offer you better durability, increased speed and accuracy, and consistent performance.

Multimedia Center
Enjoy easy access to your favorite music, video clips, and media programs with the press of a key.

Enhanced F-Key Functionality
Perform common tasks, like opening documents and replying to e-mail with the touch of a button. Or toggle between standard and enhanced F-key commands for even more flexibility.
 

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, IntelliPoint (not required), and Digital Persona Password Manager (required) software. The keyboard is USB only. After everything is installed, you are prompted to connect the keyboard and wireless Optical Mouse hardware and asked to restart (this time, you actually have to restart!). Note: to install the Digital Persona Password Manager, you have to agree to the following disclosure:

The biometric (fingerprint reader) feature in this device is not a security feature and is intended to be used for convenience only. It should not be used to access corporate networks or protect sensitive data, such as financial information. Instead, you should protect your sensitive data with another method, such as a strong password that you either memorize or store in a physically secure place.

A strong password contains all of the following:       

  • Seven or more characters (the longer, the better

  •  Uppercase and lowercase letters

  •  Numerals

  • Symbols (at least one of which in the second through sixth position)

  • At least four different characters (no repeats)

  • Looks like a sequence of random letters and numbers

A strong password must not contain any of the following:

  • Any part of your logon name

  • Actual words or names in any language

  • Numbers that are used in place of similar letters, such as "5" for "S"

  • Consecutive letters, such as "abcdefg"

  • Consecutive numbers, such as "234567"

  • Adjacent keys on your keyboard, such as "qwerty"
     

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 10 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.
 

Mouse Design

The Wireless Optical Mouse 2.0 sizes up at 3 inches long, 1.5 inches wide and an inch high. The mouse has a titanium finish around the top, 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 2.0 only has 2 buttons and a scroll wheel (which also serves as a button), so if you depend on a ton of programmable buttons and such this mouse is not for you. The scroll wheel has the tilt technology feature, which helps scroll left and right. The scroll wheel is a transparent white. Microsoft designed the mouse to be ambidextrous, so both right and left handed users can use this mouse without any problem. The size makes this mouse easy to use for long periods of times, without irritating the wrist (something I particularly find important). The wireless base is black (about 3 inches by 2 inches) and is the same type as Microsoft's standard non-Bluetooth wireless hub. 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.

Let’s not forget the Optical Technology. The technology is 2,500 frames per second and works smoothly on most surfaces. It has been broken-in well with previous mice, so you know you won’t have any problem. This mouse, however, doesn’t have the 6,000 frames per second which is available in the IntelliMouse Explorer.

 

Biometric Fingerprint Reader

When Windows XP loads, there is a new icon the upper left hand corner that shows Windows is equipped with the biometric reader, however this first time you still have to log-in with your windows password. When Windows completely boots, the Fingerprint Registration Wizard prompts you to begin the process of associating your fingerprints with Windows passwords. For security reasons, you are prompted to reenter your Windows password.

Next, you are shown two hands, and you have the option to choose which finger you would like for the password. They recommend your index finger, but I chose the pointer finger. Now, you are directed to put your selected finger on the fingerprint reader until the print is recognized.  When you put your finger on the reader, it lights up red, and you can see your fingerprint on the wizard box. Quite Cool! You have to scan your fingerprint three more times to complete the process. After you register a finger print, you can do another finger, or all your fingers. In addition, you can delete your fingerprint once it’s registered.



Once you have the fingerprints registered the registration is finished. Now to access the program, just put on of your fingers on reader and a new dialog menu will appear. Note: this menu is not available from the start menu, there you can only access the program properties and the registration wizard. There is also a fingerprint reader icon that is put in the icon tray. 

To associate your fingerprint login with website, simply go to the login page of whatever website you want (in this case I used Outlook Web Access) and then open the one touch menu (by pressing your fingerprint to the reader). A dialog box will come up, where you enter your login information. The next time you go to the page the dialog box will still come up but the information will be automatically entered by pressing your finger to the biometric reader.

 

The fingerprint login also works with Windows programs. I tested the login on Remote Desktop connection, and that worked for logging into the ActiveWin.com server just fine. This biometric reader is quite helpful, just as long as you do not forget your passwords!

The biometric reader supports fast user switching for Windows logins, just as long as you have registered fingerprints for the different user accounts. There is no delay in logging into Windows, and you even can save a few seconds off of the entry. Of course, you can still choose to login via your password.
 

Keyboard Design

The fingerprint keyboard is one of Microsoft’s newer keyboard designs as of late, and offers many improvements in style and features over its’ predecessors. The keyboard has a standard length of 20 inches and width of 8.5. 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 gloss black.

Starting from the left, there is the biometric fingerprint reader. The reader is a little over an inch long, and slightly less than inch wide. A split red/silver circle encompasses the plastic reader screen. The reader itself is a slightly sticky plastic material. When the keyboard is on, the reader lights up in the same way the bottle of the optical mouse do. Above the reader are the media keys: mute, volume decrease and volume increase.  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 standard keys, my documents, my pictures, my music, mail, web/home, messenger, calculator, log off, and sleep. All keys can be reassigned however by using IntelliType software. There is also an F Lock key where you can switch between standard and enhanced functions. There is an attachable palm rest for the keyboard as well.

Final Comments

How It Grades

Installation: 93%
Performance: 95%
Design: 95%
Price/Value: 87%
Overall: 92.5%

This product is perfect for those who want a "techish" style in their lives all while having the latest and cutting-edge technology features. This color scheme probably appeases most people and meshes well with the silver/black LCD monitors. The keyboard design has been refined over last year's models and provides an updated look over previous desktops. The Microsoft Optical Desktop Pro with Fingerprint Reader is good looking; and for those of you who have yet to try the an optical desktop, I definitely recommend you try this product. The mouse has two buttons, not to mention the multi-function tilting scroll wheel, so I feel those who seek the most functionality will enjoy this product. I prefer the IntelliMouse Explorer to the Microsoft Optical Mouse 2.0, but that can be easily swapped out. Additionally, this product is priced significantly lower than the Microsoft Bluetooth Desktop and the same price as last year’s model, though at places like Amazon you can find it much cheaper. For those of you who already have a favorite keyboard, I would suggest buying the separate Microsoft Fingerprint Reader as the biometric fingerprint functionality is awesome and is definitely worth a try. Also, Microsoft includes two Energizer batteries for the mouse, which I feel is completely classy since the standard generics are not included.  

Specs & Package
Overall Score 92.5%
Version Reviewed Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader
Release Date Out Now
The Good Points Enhanced Optical Technology
Nice Color/Design
Longer Battery Life
Tilt Wheel
The Bad Points No Natural Edition
Keyboard not wireless
Not Bluetooth
Similar Product Microsoft Wireless Optical Bluetooth Desktop
Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop
System Requirements Windows XP (all editions)
Pentium 233 MHz or higher
105 MB free space
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or higher or MSN Explorer 8 or higher
Windows Media Player

 

 

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