Anti-RSI Wireless Desktop
Some people in this world can't always afford the latest and greatest in peripheral technology. While it would be wonderful to have the Logitech MX5000 wireless desktop for example, for many of us, price tags place these products well out of reach. This is where A4 Tech comes in. The A4 Tech wireless desktop does not proclaim to be the best product on the market, rather it aims to be the cheapest and in doing so, very obviously cuts quite a few corners.
- Price, works well
- Questionable design, problematic drivers, drains batteries quickly.
The A4tech Anti-RSI desktop wont impress and generally isn’t that great a set but the price will attract many people and the idiom that you get what you pay for is definitely true.
Price$ 75.00 (AUD)
The apparent selling point for the desktop is the anti-RSI (repetitive strain injury) key layout which forces you to reposition your hands to suit the keyboard but whether this is more beneficial than a regular keyboard is not certain. We think this design is not entirely practical, comfortable or well thought out. The keys are oddly shaped and don't sit well on the fingers as all the keys aren't the same height. The key layout is also anti-productive as the arrow keys are too close to the number pad and the insert, home, delete, end, page up and page down buttons are not where they should be, making an instinctive press of the delete key an exercise in futility.
The keyboard also boasts 19 programmable buttons, but all of them already have labels and uses that most people probably won't be interested in changing. The driver software allows to you map commands to the keys if desired but the options for the button uses are restricted by the software to the point that there are some mappings you just can't perform. However, where the simple mapping fails, in most cases a user can record a macro to compensate for the driver failings.
The wireless capabilities of the keyboard work well enough but the receiver tends to lose both range and signal stability if the line of sight is obscured in any way. This means that if you don't want the receiver in plain sight, you have to sacrifice performance. The mouse also tends to work most of the time, although it does take a second or two to work when coming out of its power saving hibernation mode.
The mouse design is actually rather comfortable and generally performs very well. We would have liked it to have been a 5 button mouse for this package but considering the price we weren't totally surprised that it wasn't. The laser in the mouse works well on most surfaces but does have a few slight issues with changes in dark tones.
Two complaints we had with this product were the rechargeable batteries and the driver disc. The fact that this system includes rechargeable batteries is great, but the fact that there is no charger included is not. A separate charger needs to be purchased and at about $30 which bumps the cost of your new desktop up a little higher than you may have wanted. Also, the rechargeable batteries are only rated at 1400mAh whereas most chargers on the market don't allow batteries less than 1700mAh to be charged. The result is batteries that heat up to ridiculous levels when placed in a standard charger and discharge far quicker than regular rechargeable. The Anti-RSI Wireless desktop tends to chew batteries quite a bit, so using anything but rechargeables would be cost-prohibitive. The average battery life of a regular set of batteries will vary depending on use though the non-rechargeable batteries that came included were drained in less than a day.
The issue with respect to the driver disc is purely an added level of frustration as the drivers are included on a floppy disc. Now, this may not be a problem for most people but there are some of us that don't have floppy drives in their computers - including the drivers on a floppy is just too 1995.
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