Desktop not quite on the right wavelength

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 October, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 October, 1998, 12:00am

Combining a mouse and keyboard into a single, cordless package may help integrate the use of personal computers into everyday life. But for the new Cordless Desktop from Logitech, the end results appear to fall short of its separate components.

Installation was easy, aided by the inclusion of a set-up sheet, port adapters for those who need them, and batteries for both devices. The mouse and keyboard responded automatically in DOS and Windows 98.

The included software, Logitech's Mouseware 8.0, adds options to your control panel which allow you to change the wireless frequency at which commands are transmitted, and allows the assigning of different functions to each mouse button.

Apart from the cordless feature, both components are quite standard. The mouse is a functional, three-button model (one is a thumb button) with no wheel on top, and the keyboard is a standard model with a stiff feel and specialised Windows keys.

The lack of a wheel, which enables users to scroll up and down the screen without having to move the mouse around, is incomprehensible since the product surely is aimed at people surfing the Internet on living room televisions.

For those concerned about RSI, a detachable keyboard wrist-rest is included, along with advice to take breaks, and discussions of posture and other ergonomic factors.

However, most users probably will hurt themselves anyway when they attack the keyboard out of frustration. This is the only keyboard I have encountered which exhibits a noticeable delay between the pressing of a key and its appearance on-screen in Windows. This is guaranteed to annoy anyone who types fast.

Changing the transmission channel did not help the problem. I also lost characters when typing, although I will allow the keyboard the benefit of the doubt and attribute this to the excessively stiff keys.

After the disappointment above, I was hoping for an ergonomic and functional mouse, given that I already use two Logitech mice, and that most quick-reaction gamers swear by Logitech products. While a quick channel change stopped its occasional failures to respond, I found that the mouse was not too comfortable. After about an hour of surfing, my wrist hurt - definitely not a good sign.

Comparing my Mouseman Plus and the Cordless side-by-side, I noticed that the quarter-circle shaped Cordless did not provide as much wrist support as my normal mouse.

However, despite heavy usage, the pain lessened over the next few days. I attributed this to my wrist having become used to the lack of support. Users of other mouses may not experience this adjustment problem.

With the exception of the keyboard, the cordless function worked well. Unlike an infrared cordless model that I already use, this keyboard does not have to be within line of sight of the receiver.

The product will be sufficient if you do not type fast and if you do not mind components that are not best-of-breed. It will be even more useful if you are lucky enough to have an enormous living room and use your TV as a monitor.

However, I suspect most users, myself included, will wait until something better comes along.