New is Microsoft’s Wireless Optical Desktop for both Mac OS X and Windows PCs. Without sounding like a Microsoft apologist, I have to admit that the MS Mouse is one of the best and I have it on both my Sony Vaio and a new PowerMac G5.
The Microsoft Mouse is that good.
Integration with Mac OS X is key and Microsoft’s done only a fair job making sure their desktop hardware works and plays well with non-Windows platforms such as Mac OS X and Linux.
The new Wireless Optical Desktop works well. On Windows. Mostly. On Mac OS X? That’s another story.
Most impressive is the Digital Media Pro Keyboard. The keyboard has a Darth Vader look to it which seems oddly out of place next to a new Mac Cinema HD Display. The hottest feature is the Zoom Slider to the left of the keyboard.
The slider is supposed to make it easy to “zoom” in to look at documents or graphics without taking your hand off the keyboard (something Mac users can already do). Slide the lever up and down and zoom in and out. This feature works OK on my Sony Vaio with Windows XP SP2. I couldn’t get it to work with Mac OS X, though. Microsoft’s list of not compatible applications is about as long (dozens) as the compatible list.
Interestingly, many of the applications that are not compatible with the zoom (and other features) are Microsoft’s own. MSN Explorer, Outlook, Outlook Express, Works, Windows Explorer, Front Page.
The Wireless Optical Desktop is a package deal with the keyboard and a Microsoft Wireless Mouse. The new mouse touts six months of battery life, the main complaint of previous generations of wireless devices.
The new Microsoft devices require MS IntelliType 5.1 which was upgraded in early August, 2004.
The longer battery life is welcome news. However, the shape of the Microsoft Mouse in the Optical Desktop varies from the older Microsoft Mouse. Although the new version is similar, I prefer the older version.
This is not Bluetooth wireless technology. Microsoft has a separate Bluetooth product which has not met with as much success as other wireless keyboard devices. The new devices feature a proprietary wireless connectivity which uses less power.
The Wireless Optical Desktop (keyboard and mouse) lists for $74.95, however, I found numerous online sites priced at $49.99. Likewise, the Digital Media Pro Keyboard lists for $29.95 at Buy.com and other outlets, but sells for about $20. Microsoft says the new keyboards and mouse(s), mice, will be available this month, however, we found some available already.
The Media Pro Keyboard should not be confused with various video editing keyboards for Mac OS X Final Cut Pro. Those usually sell for $70 to $120.
The usual problem, of course, is full compatibility with Mac OS X. And, naturally, the true test of any keyboard and mouse is how it feels and works for you. The new Microsoft Keyboard feels OK, not great. It’s still a bit too spongy for me and there are so many keys for this and keys for that, that it’s easy to get distracted. Plus, not all the keys work on Mac OS X.
I’ve already reduced my credibility (but I’m courageous) by pointing out that I use a Microsoft Mouse on my Mac. However, my favorite keyboard is the Mathias Tactile Pro. It’s more like the old Mac keyboards which go clickety click when you type. The “tactile” must mean that the keyboard shouts, yells and assaults your fingers and ears.
What’s your favorite keyboard? What mouse do you use? What’s your favorite? Which do you hate the most? Do you have a problem with the Apple Mac Mouse (loud click)?
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Click Here to view details on the Optical Desktop.