Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 review

6 Jul 2009

This wireless keyboard and mouse set isn't without its faults, but it's amazing how many features - and how much hardware - you get for your money

Price when reviewed 
33
Buy it now for 
5

We had to double-check the price of the Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 before we finally convinced ourselves it was true, because at £29 (£33 inc VAT) you're buying a lot of kit: a wireless keyboard, wireless mouse, and the small wireless dongle that you need to attach to your PC to allow the mouse and keyboard to connect.

The headline item is the keyboard, which again is packed with features. Not content with a couple of media controls, Microsoft stuffs in a total of 22 bonus shortcut buttons too. Most of these are pre-configured for commands such as zooming, launching My Pictures and My Documents, but you can customise them to whatever suits your needs.

There are also five numbered shortcut buttons at the top, ready and waiting to be associated with your favourite applications, files, folders or websites. Less experienced users may struggle to associate an application, however, as the Browse dialog button defaults to the desktop, so if they don't know to look in C:Program Files for the relevant EXE file then they'll struggle.

Things don't stop there. By default, the 12 function keys all have pre-designated uses (such as Open a file in My Documents, Spell Check and Save). Press the F Lock key, and they all go back to their traditional F1, F2 and so on, uses. One minor criticism again, however: there's no visual indication of whether or not the F Lock is activated, so you'll have to press a button to find out.

As a keyboard, it's okay rather than fantastic. The keys feel a little loose to the touch, with none of the tactile feedback you get from the very best keyboards. Heavy typists should also note the key tops are stickers rather than laser etchings, so keys you frequently hit will eventually wear with use. In its favour, though, it's by no means noisy; keys have a gentle rather than harsh click.

The same can't be said of the mouse, whose buttons have a distinct edge to them. It also took us a little while to get used to a scroll wheel that flows so smoothly - we expected a bit of friction as we moved the wheel - but soon got used to it. The back/forward buttons are less convincing. They're very small, to the extent we had to look for them rather than press them instinctively.

Despite these criticisms, we remain fans of the mouse. For one, it's incredibly responsive. Move the mouse across the table, or pretty much any surface apart from glass, and the cursor moves with you almost as well. It's perfect for big screens, where you need to cover a large area at a moment's notice. Microsoft claims much of this responsiveness is due to its BlueTrack technology, which uses "advanced optics".

There are two more nice touches to round off the Wireless Desktop's attractions. One is that the keyboard is spill-resistant: as we discovered when we poured a glass of water over the keys, and the water rapidly drained out of the bottom of the keyboard onto our desk.

We also like the neat holder for the wireless dongle that's built into the mouse. Slip this in and the mouse switches off, so it won't waste precious battery life when not in use. The dongle doesn't sit flush with the bottom of the mouse, which is a little annoying, but it's hardly a devastating problem.

At this price we can't complain about the use of two AA batteries for each device rather than an integrated, rechargeable battery, especially as Microsoft is generous enough to bundle four AAs in the box. Even our initial annoyance at the install procedure (we had to reboot, and Microsoft put two icons on our Windows desktop without so much as asking) was soon forgotten.

Details

Price ex VAT £29
Price inc VAT £33
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 6

Basic Specifications

Type Desktop
Wireless? yes
Wireless protocol 2.4GHz
Rechargeable? no

Mouse

Technology Blue laser
Middle scroll wheel yes

Keyboard

Numeric keypad? yes
Media transport keys? yes

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