iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Logitech cordless mice and keyboard

The growing number of peripherals which we are hanging on our computer gives us not only new possibilities but also leads to new problems. You have to not only place each new device on your desk but also connect it. It means that you need to stretch interface and network/feed cables and place them the way they wouldn't impede anything. And in case of mouse you should put the cable so that nothing would prevent its free traveling. In such situation cordless devices become more actual. Therefore today we will concern with some devices of this family.

Cordless mice and keyboards contacting a computer via an infrared port are known for a long time already, but they have an obvious weak point - they need a "visual" contact between a transceiver and the device itself. It means that the traveling area is limited. Devices contacting a computer via a radio channel are different. And it doesn't matter if you cover a transceiver with something or just take it away from the desk. So, today we will consider a couple of such devices.

Today we are discussing the Logitech Cordless Wheel Mouse (radio mouse) and the Logitech Cordless Desktop (a set consisting of a radio mouse and a radio keyboard). Note that the Cordless Wheel Mouse and the mouse from the Cordless Desktop set are sisters. They differ only in complete sets what will be a starting point in our studying of them.

The complete set of the Cordless Desktop includes a wireless radio keyboard, wireless radio mouse, a transceiver with adapters, two Duracell batteries AAA (for mouse), two Duracell batteries AA (for keyboard), user's manual and two diskettes with drivers. The transceiver's cable is 160 cm long and has two mini-DIN connectors on its ends for inserting in the connectors of a keyboard and a mouse on your motherboard. With the adapters you can connect the mouse to the COM-port and the keyboard to the DIN connector (if your motherboard doesn't have a PS/2 connector for a keyboard).

A funny box of the Logitech Cordless Wheel Mouse contains the radio mouse (the same as in the Cordless Desktop set), a transceiver with an adapter, two Duracell batteries AAA, user's manual and two diskettes with drivers. The transceiver's cable is 120 cm long and ends with a connector like PS/2 (mini-DIN). Otherwise, you can connect your mouse to the serial port with an adapter.

I thing that now I should explain your the difference between the complete sets of them, and further I will go only with the Cordless Desktop, since the both mice are identical. Well, their sets differ only in transceivers. The transceiver from the Cordless Desktop set is intended for servicing a radio mouse and a radio keyboard, carries 4 LEDs and quite a long cable. And the transceiver from the Cordless Wheel Mouse set can service only a radio mouse, carries one LED and a shorter cable. The PS/2-COM adapters are also different. I liked more the one from the Cordless Wheel Mouse set since you can screw it to the connector on the case of your computer.

Now, passing to the performance capabilities of the Logitech Cordless Desktop set, I'd like to start with installation and connection, then I will come to the revealed downsides and finish with highlights of this set.

Installation and connection of the Logitech Cordless Desktop

Connection of this set is no more difficult than in case of a usual keyboard and mouse. First thing for you to do is to put batteries inside the mouse and the keyboard. Then you are to connect the transceiver. You will easily implement it as its connectors are marked with the color and corresponding signs. The only thing for you to decide is which port should serve for your mouse (PS/2 or COM). After that switch your machine on. After the Windows identifies the new devices you have to install the mouse's driver. Unfortunately, the Logitech Cordless Desktop set doesn't provide for keyboard drivers, and it is installed as a usual Windows 95 keyboard. It makes difficulty in checking the battery status, in contrast to the mouse.

Downsides and disappointing trifles…

You can't say the set is flooded up with lowlights, but still there are some.

I didn't like that the LED indication - Num Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock - is locating on the transceiver case and not on the keyboard! And what if the transceiver lies somewhere behind the system case?

Trifles? Well, first of all it is a short Shift key: as for me it's not very convenient. Another disappointing trifle is an absence of keyboard drivers. Well, I can't say I need it all the time, but still - to check the battery status would have been a pleasing feature.

You all know that practically any brand has its own peculiar features; and the mouse from the Logitech Cordless Desktop set is no an exception. It refused traveling along my favorite rag pad. It required one with even plastic covering. But the main disadvantage is its weight (it concerns, though, all radio mice)! Besides, the mouse doesn't stand any specks of dust on its way. Any litter prevents smooth traveling, and moreover, you have to clean the ball quite often as it strongly attracts dust.

Cordless Desktop in operating

Despite the mentioned weak points the set left positive impression. Assembling quality of the keyboard (manufactured in Thailand) and the keyboard (produced in China) were excellent. When you get used to the form and weight of the mouse you will definitely agree that wireless operation is much more convenient. If you take a good pad, the mouse will pay with a good operation and exact positioning. It won't be a problem to shift a cursor on one pixel, what is very important while e.g. working with graphics editors. Initially loud buttons will get softer clicking in a week. The wheel is noiseless from the very beginning.

The keyboard is not clicking the way many others do, but I still liked that. Soft and resilient stroke of keys is not followed by any clank as it often happens in case of cheap keyboards. The keys are not so high as usual. In all other respects the keyboard from the Logitech Cordless Desktop set is not remarkable.

But I have concerned only ordinary properties of the Logitech Cordless Desktop. And what about experiments with radio communication? I was surprised with the fact that the maximum distance of the devices from the transceiver varies for the keyboard and the mouse. While the keyboard performed well being 5.5 m from the transceiver, the mouse felt unwell at 2.1 m. The farthest acceptable distance was 1.7-1.8 m. Too little? Of course it's enough, since if longer you couldn't find the cursor on the display. Surely, you may set 640x480; but this might be insufficient as well. When will you may need control the computer 1-1.5 m away? The only reason might be a control of playing DVD, video CD and other discs, i.e. for multimedia player control. But for this purpose you may in advance set hot keys on your keyboard. I tried this and it turned to be really comfortable.

Another problem you should be ware of is influence of noise on stability of the device operation. Especially if you are going to work with the Logitech Cordless Desktop keyboard far from the computer. Many household appliances might bring in noise. So, in order to check noise-immunity, I chose the most ordinary devices: a hairdryer, a vacuum cleaner, a cellular phone (900 MHz) and a light switch. All these devices were placed between the transceiver and the keyboard (except the light switch :). The keyboard was 3.5 m away from the transceiver. The results of the test were more than just impressive. None of the devices brought in failure in the operation. So, you can fearlessly use the Logitech Cordless Desktop as a remote control for multimedia system of your computer.

Is it really worth buying?

This is the exact question settled in your minds. Note that the local price for the Logitech Cordless Desktop constitutes approx $78, and for the Logitech Cordless Wheel Mouse it is $35. So, we may assume that the Cordless Desktop keyboard costs $43. A usual (wired) keyboard of the similar quality might be found at $30. It means that we pay $13 for wireless connection. Is it much? I guess no. Anyway, you should note that when got used to the cordless mouse and keyboard, it will be very difficult for you to come back to usual ones again. I know it thanks to my own experience, though the Logitech Cordless Wheel Mouse lives in my house only 2.5 months.

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