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When Microsoft's $300 Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 comes out this September, it will be more expensive than any other prepackaged mouse-and-keyboard combination currently available. And as feature-packed as this wireless rechargeable desktop set might be, we're not confident that very many people will want what Microsoft has to offer. With no number pad, the keyboard is not ideal for an office environment. And thanks to a clunky recharging station, we can't see too many people setting this up in a living room. If you're in the market, then, for a $300 desktop set best suited for watching movies while leaning back in a desk chair (dorm-dwellers, we're looking at you), you might be interested in this new set. Regardless of how you might use it, we suspect most people will simply find the price too high.
We'll start with the keyboard. The keyboard in the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 set is basically the same as the 7000 version we reviewed a few months back (and our criticisms of its oversized keys remain) but with a few improvements. Cosmetically, Microsoft applied a silver finish to the keys, giving it a lighter look than the 7000 model. It also added the most advanced backlighting we've seen in a keyboard. A motion detector on the front edge senses whether there's a body in front of it. If you're not there, the lights go off. Further, a built-in ambient light sensor detects the light level in the room and adjusts the intensity of the soft white backlighting accordingly. It also has function buttons for you to set the light level manually.