Being the geek that I am every once in a while I get a little disillusioned/bored with one or more pieces of my PC’s hardware and start looking for Something Better. My Wife says it’s just because I like to spend money…but I don’t think so. (although I really do enjoy it) Anyway it just struck me the other day that I should look and see if there is something better in keyboards and mice. Currently I am using a Microsoft Digital Media Pro Keyboard. (note -it does look much better with the HUGE black wrist rest removed) This is a swanky keyboard with many advantages. It does have a lot of extra BS keys but they are up and out of the way and never interfere with the normal keys. And the “normal” keys are all layed out “normally”. The ENTER key isn’t L-Shaped (I hate THAT). The INSERT/HOME/END/DELETE are all aligned in the traditional 2×3 row block. The keyblocks are all STRAIGHT not curved. As for the BS keys -I actually use some of these -most notably the “slider” -I use for Photoshop zoom in and out…the media volume keys I use all the time and the little calculator button is nice. The color scheme is great too -all silver and black it matches my Dell monitor and Antec Solo case quite nicely.
I looked at a LOT of keyboards online and in the stores and they all had various “problems” and many of them sucked hard with way too much extraneous crap stuck all over them! I even experimented with going all “minimalist” and using my number one “backup” keyboard I use to work on client boxes with as my primary for a few days. I am talking about the excellent Logitech Classic 200. This is great little board. It’s very compact yet has a NUM pad. The keyblocks are all straight and the ENTER is normal size/shape. It has an interesting laptop like key depth and is really easy to type on. All of this make it ideal for when I have a client box parked under my desk and I need a second keyboard in my lap as I multi-task on my main rig. But using it as primary I quickly discovered all the negatives. The biggest problem for me was the compact layout of the keys. Everything is shoved closer together and I found the arrow keys way to tight against the delete key for example. Also the INSERT/HOME/END/DELETE keyblock are in a non standard 3×2 layout that I found annoying in the extreme.
As for my mouse. I use a Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000. I been using this rodent for about 14 months now. I have worn the silver finish off of a small circular spot on the left button. But other than that it’s held up really well. This mouse uses Microsoft’s High Definition Optical Sensor that features 1000 DPI and tracks quite smoothly on most any surface. It has a tilt wheel that allows for horizontal scrolling (and yes I use that on really wide images and spreadsheets and such). This is a fantastic mouse that works great out of the box and even better after installing the Intellipoint software. Microsoft’s Intellipoint is the Gold Standard of input drivers. They just plain ROCK. Microsoft gets some stuff wrong there is no doubt but boy when they get it right they really knock it out of the park! Such is the case with their mouse/keyboard drivers. The magnifier thingie is one bit of awesome that has to be experienced to be truly understood/appreciated.
I checked out a couple of Logitech mice in hopes of besting and replacing my beloved MS mouse. First up was the LX 8 wireless mouse. The good – feels GREAT. The soft rubber side panels are wonderful and provide good grip. The wireless dongle thingie works really well – no weirdness with that. In fact it worked great without having to load any drivers. And that’s a REALLY good thing as the Logitech Mouse driver software called SetPoint is not anywhere near the quality level of the slick MS Intellipoint stuff. The Bad -the side buttons are insanely easy to accidentally press. I could never get used to that. YUCK. Also it is worth noting that although this is a Laser mouse rather than an LED based unit like my MS Comfort it still “only” manages 1000 DPI. Odd huh? Back to the store it went.
I also checked out the Logitech G3 Laser Mouse. This mouse feels GREAT in my small hand. It has the same great shape as my number one backup mouse the Logitech MX300. This is a 2000 DPI “gaming mouse”. Now I’m not much of a gamer but I thought maybe the extra DPI might help me when editing/cropping huge images in Photoshop. It didn’t. Also the silly thing can’t actually do 2000 DPI unless you install and continuously run their stupid SetPoint drivers! LAME. In fact you have to run this glitzy little Gamer App part of the driver to enable the 2000 DPI as a step in the scale offered through the mouse top button (just below the wheel). I could have quite possibly lived with this arrangement but there is NO DISPLAY of the current DPI on the mouse itself OR in the driver applet! You just have to “feel” for it. This is utterly ridiculous! This mouse is going back to the store shortly after I post this rant.
So the lesson learned here is twofold:
1) Every once in a while you have to step back from what you have to realize how great/bad it is.
2) Microsoft makes some GREAT hardware!
And yes I know I am a Microsoft Whore. What can I say? I like Good Stuff.