Microsoft sent Computerworld its wireless Bluetooth entertainment 7000 keyboard and mouse to test. Initially, I thought this ultra-thin keyboard was going to find a new home on my desk, but after testing it I found I was mistaken.
As with many of Microsoft’s products, set-up was really straightforward — put the CD in, look on the bottom of the mouse and keyboard for the name of the product you are installing, and a little bit later, everything is working as promised.
However, my initial thought of using it on the desktop was ruined by some design decisions. At first glance you will notice the keys are laid out on a curve so your hands sit more naturally on the keyboard. But then I noticed that the Windows key has been moved. It is now circular and located directly below the space bar.
After a day of trying I still don’t like the new Windows key position. But wait, there is more… The F1-F12, Escape, Home, End, Printscreen and Scroll Lock keys are now touch-sensitive and made from metal. The issue with these keys is you don’t know if you have pressed them and you tend to click them more than once, or twice. That’s somewhat annoying.
So, a tad disappointed, I took the keyboard home to try it with our Windows Media Centre Edition PC connected to the TV. And this is where the keyboard shines! Using it from the couch is awesome.
The inbuilt trackpad on the top right-hand corner can be used instead of a mouse, and it works really well. This feature is very handy because every now and then you will have to use the Media Centre as a computer and for that reason you will need to have a mouse and keyboard plugged in. This new keyboard will do it all and you have 10 metres of wireless freedom using it. The 7000 keyboard even has a key called Magnifier that will magnify a region of the screen. This is a brilliant idea for use with standard CRT TVs, which make the text a bit blurry.
When not in use, the ultra-thin keyboard can be stored away behind the back cushions of the sofa — this is where we keep some of our laptops anyway (don’t tell anyone). The mouse is great and responsive, it runs on a single rechargeable battery and it comes with a very cute little recharging station.
Overall, I am impressed with the quality and build of the keyboard and its features. For a home entertainment system, this package is highly recommended, but as an office tool it has too many design changes to be comfortable to use.
The recommended retail price is $299 including GST.