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Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop for Bluetooth Review
Comfortably Classy

Date: 06.11.2002
 

The Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer for Bluetooth shares its corded and 27MHz-radio-frequency predecessors' chunky, sculpted shape -- strictly for right hands, but wonderfully comfy to rest a hand on, with a scooped-out side to cradle the thumb and slight grooves for the index and middle fingers on the left and right buttons.

The clickable scroll wheel serves as a third button (by default an auto-scroll function), while two more buttons (by default a Web-browsing "forward" and "back") perch above your thumb. The latter two feel slightly high at first, especially the small "forward" nub, but soon become second nature.

Bluetooth is designed for personal-area-network convenience, not avid gamers; the technology's peak data-transfer rate is about 1Mbps, and Microsoft doesn't claim the new mouse can match the response time of its 27MHz model or the touted, fast-enough-for-fragfests speed of Logitech's new MX700 Cordless Optical Mouse. The Bluetooth mouse was perfectly fine and stumble- or skip-free in everyday use -- if you stick to Excel and PowerPoint rather than Unreal Tournament, you'll be fine -- but we experienced just a few hiccups when we whipped it across the desk as fast as we could. And thanks to Microsoft's battery-saving sleep modes, it usually took a couple of back-and-forth swipes to "wake up" or move the pointer at system startup.

More worrisome than the mouse's speed was its software: While you can reassign each mouse button to one of 17 functions such as Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo, and Exit, you can't assign one to launch a favorite program or utility, and the supplied version of IntelliPoint omits the application-specific function-assigning we've praised in other Microsoft mouse reviews. Again, the choices are more than adequate for most users, but a bit disappointing for the demanding.

 

By contrast, Microsoft's Bluetooth keyboard provides ample customization capabilities, at least as far as reassigning the top two rows. The top row features an arc of multimedia keys, with volume up/down and mute buttons joined by CD/DVD play/pause and previous/next track controls; others open Windows' My Documents, My Pictures, and My Music folders and launch Outlook Express, Internet Explorer, and Windows Messenger.

Below them, Microsoft continues its policy of replacing the usual F1 through F12 keys with functions ranging from Undo and Redo to e-mail Reply, Forward, and Send shortcuts. An "F Lock" key toggles them back to their generic state (and activates the PrtScn key, normally preempted by Insert), but annoyingly, you must press it after every system startup instead of being able to leave it on. On the positive side, IntelliType gives you plenty of customization choices, from assigning your favorite non-Microsoft program to the Mail or Messenger buttons to reprogramming the Calculator and Log Off buttons above the keypad.

 

The function-key functions and F Lock are one of two things that take a little getting used to, the other being Microsoft's flip of the cursor-control keys from a horizontal row to vertical column -- the double-sized Delete key is worthwhile, but at first, every time you want Ctrl-Del to delete a word you'll hit Ctrl-End and find yourself at the end of your document.

The Perfect Match for That LCD Monitor

Right now, we like the Wireless Optical Desktop for Bluetooth not so much for its performance or features (although its extra-long wireless range is easy to admire) as for its glamorous design -- from its dipped-in-twilight tones to the glowing desktop transceiver, it's the classiest, most executive-elite-looking keyboard and mouse you can put on your desk. If Microsoft's move spurs more printers and other products to go the Bluetooth route, we'll like it even more -- and its steep price will be seen as an investment in the computing future.

Pros:

  • Knockout good looks, ultra-comfortable operation, handy multimedia controls
  • Bluetooth technology gives across-the-room range, encourages hopes for cordless printing and PDA/phone synchronization soon

Cons:

  • If you have to ask, you can't afford it
  • Only for Windows XP, not 98, Me, or 2000; mouse buttons not as customizable as those of other Microsoft mice

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Copyright © 2002 Øyvind Haugland
Sist endret:  13 januar 2019
 

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