The $80 Logitech Cordless Desktop LX710 Laser looks a little like something out of a sci-fi movie. The black-and-silver keyboard with rounded edges includes a suite of buttons worthy of a spaceship's control pad (the keys are even labeled in a futuristic font). And the accompanying mouse bears more than a passing resemblance to a Star Trek hand phaser. We appreciate the functionality and performance of both keyboard and mouse, and we especially like the high level of customization that the Logitech SetPoint software allows. We were annoyed, though, by the placement and sensitivity of the keyboard's quick-launch buttons, which seemed overly prone to accidental activation. But if you can adapt your movement to avoid accidentally hitting the quick-launch keys, the Logitech Cordless Desktop LX710 Laser will let you create highly customized keyboard and mouse shortcuts for quick navigation.
You won't need the included setup guide to get started using the Logitech Cordless Desktop LX710 Laser. Just load the included batteries--two AA batteries each for the mouse and keyboard--and plug the USB receiver directly into your computer (or use the included USB dock if you want to keep the space around your ports clear). Our Windows XP and Windows Vista test systems immediately recognized the keyboard and mouse, without even pressing the connect buttons on the receiver and devices. The set works as a plug-and-play device, with all the shortcut and media keys programmed to popular defaults. For example, the mail shortcut key launched Outlook on our computers, while the music shortcut key launched the default media player (iTunes in one case and Windows Media Player in another). To customize the buttons and change settings on the keyboard or mouse, however, you'll need to install Logitech's included SetPoint software, which works flawlessly on both Vista and Windows XP. Nearly every button or launch key on the Cordless Desktop LX710 Laser can be reprogrammed to launch an application or perform an action of your choice.
The keyboard in the Cordless Desktop LX710 Laser is one of the chunkier models we've seen, measuring more than 0.5-inch thick from the bottom to the base of the keys. Typing was comfortable, thanks to the amply sized keys and a rubberized palm rest, which provides a soft landing for weary hands. In a nice touch, Logitech has included two sets of flip-up legs on the bottom so you can choose among three keyboard angles for the most comfortable wrist angle.
The company has aimed this desktop set toward photo editors and media mavens, as evidenced by the controls that sit like wings on both sides of the keyboard. On the left side you'll find a button to launch your designated image editor as well as image-rotate and zoom buttons. Along the right side, you'll find a dedicated media player launch button; shuffle, play/pause, track forward, and track back controls. The layout of these buttons feels intuitive, but unfortunately they're so close to the edge and so responsive we found ourselves accidentally launching a program every time we tried to reposition the keyboard . Once we even accidentally grazed the edge of the board while setting down a cup of coffee. More traditional shortcut buttons across the top of the keyboard include volume up, volume down, and mute buttons, with a second row to launch the desktop search, e-mail, and VoIP applications of your choice. We like that the (admittedly somewhat small) F1 through F8 keys bear icons for their preprogrammed functions, such as launching selected Microsoft Office apps or common user interface functions such as File Save or Print. The F9 through F12 keys serve as four programmable F-mode keys; you can assign an application or even a particular file to a function key by holding the desired button down for two seconds. All the standard control-key shortcuts also are clearly labeled, making it extremely easy for even a novice to get the most out of this keyboard.
The accompanying laser mouse, though slimmer than we'd expect, curves comfortably under the palm and has an ambidextrous shape (a huge plus for left-handed mousers). Photo editors will appreciate the mouse's responsiveness, which should make for accurate cutting, pasting, and touch-ups. The mouse's feature set pales in comparison to the keyboard, though: it has right- and left-click buttons and a tilt scroll wheel, with tiny forward and back buttons beneath the wheel. This mouse lacks the thumb buttons and volume controls we've seen on previous Logitech mice--not a big deal, given the keyboard's thorough feature set, although we had become accustomed to using those controls on the mouse. We do like that the four-way scroll wheel allows for easy navigation of Web pages and spreadsheets; like the rest of the set, it's highly programmable, so users can designate cursor speed, acceleration, and specialized controls for gaming.
Logitech backs the Cordless Desktop LX710 Laser with a lengthy, five-year limited warranty that includes a replacement or a refund if the products are defective. The company's support Web site offers user forums, a knowledge base, and an e-mail form to contact the company.