Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop

Bluetooth has been a buzzword for quite some time now, as those in the know predict a wire-free future for our computing devices. With this latest release Microsoft has got behind the concept in a big way, so it looks like Bluetooth might finally make it beyond the hype and into the mainstream.

The Wireless Optical Desktop Bluetooth consists of a keyboard and mouse that connect to your PC via Bluetooth, which means no messy trailing cables. Well, sort of, as you still have to plug the wireless transceiver into your PC.

Wireless keyboards and mice are hardly a new idea, though, as those based on radio wave technology have been around for a while. And, to be completely honest, there isn’t a significant difference between a radio-based and Bluetooth-based desktop setup.

Bluetooth has a range of 30 feet, so you can use your keyboard or mouse while not seated at your desk. But you can do this with a standard wireless setup and these devices are cheaper, so why opt for Bluetooth instead? The key selling point is that you can connect your PC to other Bluetooth devices via the transceiver. For example, if you have a Bluetooth printer you could hook this up, too, or you can use a Bluetooth-enabled phone as a dialup modem -- ideal if you use a notebook. There is also a notebook USB adapter to allow you to use the transceiver with a laptop.

But before you get too excited, do check first if the particular device you want to use with the Bluetooth Desktop is compatible. A list is printed (in very small type) on the back of the box. It states that up to seven devices can be connected as long as they adhere to the following Bluetooth profiles: printers must use the Hardcopy Cable Replacement profile; wireless modem connections to Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones need to use the Dial-Up Networking profile; and lastly, keyboards and mice must use the Human Interface Device profile.

Setting up Bluetooth devices can be a trial, as it’s not always the most cooperative of standards. However, getting the transceiver to talk to the keyboard, mouse and PC was easy. Simply load up the software, making sure to keep your existing mouse and keyboard plugged in, then restart your PC. Follow the simple instructions and you will have set up a secure Bluetooth connection between all three devices.

This being Microsoft, both the mouse and keyboard are top-quality devices. In fact, I am typing this review on the keyboard: the keys are soft and pleasant to use, while the additional wristrest gives good support. It’s equipped with plenty of hotkeys so you can easily control frequently used apps such as email, Media Player, Messenger and the Internet. The optical mouse, which features four buttons and a scrollwheel, can be customised very easily using the supplied IntelliPoint software, as can the hotkeys.

Keyboard, mouse and transceiver are all finished in attractive metallic blue and silver trim, so they will add a touch of class to any desktop.

In brief: Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop Bluetooth
If you already use a wireless keyboard and mouse then you won’t really notice a difference upgrading to Microsoft’s Optical Desktop, although if you own a Bluetooth-enabled phone or printer then this kit will prove very handy. As a standard keyboard and mouse the setup displays perfect build quality with plenty of extras for the price.
Price: $399
Phone: 132 058

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Ursula Seymour

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