One of the latest hardware combinations coming out of Redmond is all about simplicity and style. Microsoft has released the second version of the Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop Pro 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 last (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 (and wireless), on their desktop. Does the mouse and keyboard combo live up to its promises? Read on to find out.
Setup & Installation
Mouse & Keyboard Setup: The setup of this mouse is decisively simple; just plug the wireless hub into a port, do a quick software setup and you are ready to go. Like its predecessors, this mouse works with USB and PS/2 ports. Installation of the IntelliPoint software is a breeze. This mouse also supports some Macintosh platforms (see below). The batteries for the mouse are included.
For the keyboard no cords are necessary, of course, so setup is minimal. Batteries are also included for the keyboard so just insert them in, start up the IntelliPoint software setup and you are good to go.
Microsoft IntelliType Pro & IntelliMouse 5.0 Software
If you would like to adjust your keyboard settings, i.e. reprogram its hotkeys, then you’ll want to install Microsoft IntelliType Pro 5.0 software. Installation of the IntelliType Pro 5.0 software (although not needed) is a breeze. Just pop in the CD included or download the software (about 10 MB) from Microsoft’s website. After a restart, the setup asks which keyboard you are using and thus finalizes the installation. A “quick start guide” is displayed which walks you through the keyboard highlights, help resources, healthy computing guide, etc.
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.
New on this version of IntelliType, but not applicable to the Wireless Optical Desktop Pro (only Desktop Elite) is the programmable “my favorite keys” options.
If you would like to adjust your mouse settings, i.e. reprogram its additional buttons, then you’ll want to install Microsoft IntelliPoint 5.0 software. Installation of the IntelliType Pro 5.0 software (although not needed) is a breeze. Just pop in the CD included or download the software (about 10 MB) from Microsoft’s website. After a restart, the setup asks which mouse you are using and thus finalizes the installation. From here you can program your buttons, access the signal quality wizard, and more.
The Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer included in this combination is available separately (unlike the keyboard colors). The mouse is also about the same size as previous models, sizing up at 3 inches long, 1.5 inches wide and an inch high. The mouse has a dark metallic grey finish around the top, with a sleek black design on the bottom. 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. It seems Microsoft has cut away from the red translucent plastic bottoms which used to be on older models.
The Microsoft Wireless Explorer has five bottoms and a scroll wheel (which also services as a button), so if you depend on a ton of programmable buttons this one has the most of available from Microsoft (the optical mouse included in the standard wireless desktop does not have five). The scroll wheel is a transparent white, but unlike the Notebook Optical Mouse the wheel doesn’t light up (a light would be cool!). The wheel, unlike previous models, has a nice tight grip to it. New for this version is the proprietary “tilt wheel technology.” The first of its kind, users can now scroll vertically and horizontally. I found this feature most useful for toggling between open windows. Nice touch! Unlike the Optical Mouse, the IntelliMouse is not ambidextrous, so only right hand users will prefer to use this model. 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. This model now includes an improved 27 MHz receiver to cut down on interference (we did not have any problems before). There are 65,000 random identification codes to reduce interference! 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 6,000 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. The optical technology has been enhanced over previous models to last much longer than before. Indeed, the mouse battery has lasted several months unlike previous models where the battery hardly lasted a month.
As in the last year’s combo, the keyboard included in this combination is the Natural Wireless MultiMedia Keyboard, again with a new black and silver design. The top one-third of the keyboard (the Multimedia center part) is silver, and the rest is black. The MultiMedia keyboard has Microsoft’s distinct, ergonomic shape which large quantities of consumers enjoy in addition to an integrated palm rest. The keyboard weighs in at just less than 2 pounds with a length of about 12 inches and a width of 6 inches. The keyboard is raised slightly at the top end to give easier access to the main hotkeys.
The Multimedia center at the top center of the keyboard gives one-touch access to frequently used multimedia commands; play, pause, stop, mute and more are all included. All of these commands, of course, can be reprogrammed using the IntelliType Pro software. In addition, you have access to twelve other hotkeys (on the function keys), when the Function light is turned off. When the F Lock light is on, the keys turn back into regular function keys. Finally, the keyboard lights (Caps Lock, etc.) are a little bigger and better looking than normal.
This product is perfect for those who want a "techish" style in their lives without having the boldness of the Optical Blue Wireless products and do not want to spend the money for the Bluetooth Desktop. It’s almost unfortunate with all the new options available in the mouse line that only metallic grey finish was available, but this color probably appeases a larger crowd then the rest. The keyboard design was debuted by Microsoft in late-2002 with others such as the MultiMedia keyboard. The Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop Pro is good looking; and for those of you who have yet to try the new Multimedia keyboard style, I definitely recommend you try this product. The mouse has five buttons, not to mention the tilting scroll will, so I feel those who seek the most functionality will enjoy this product. Additionally, this product is priced significantly lower than the Microsoft Bluetooth Desktop and the same price as last year’s model. Since the keyboard has not been updated (other than color) since last year’s model, those who purchased the predecessor would probably more inclined to only purchase the mouse separately. For those of you who do not like the Natural feel, virtually the same product is available in the standard keyboard form.