If you've hopped aboard the Internet-calling bandwagon, the Logitech EasyCall Desktop keyboard, despite some finicky shortcut keys that work with some VoIP apps and not others, will have you making and receiving calls in style. For $130, you get a wireless keyboard, a wireless laser mouse, a wired two-way speaker, and a wired headset. So, if you are a frequent user of Skype or another VoIP app and are looking for an excuse to upgrade to a wireless keyboard and mouse, you are sure to enjoy the luxurious experience the Logitech EasyCall Desktop affords.
Though the keyboard is littered with shortcut keys and features a slick design, the real star of the EasyCall Desktop is the speakerphone. It's a full-duplex speaker phone that features Logitech's RightSound technology for clear, echo-free calls. We were able to carry on natural-sounding conversations in testing; the voices on the other end didn't drop out when we spoke and vice versa, and there was no echo of our own voice coming back at us from the speakerphone. We were impressed with the sound right from the start, but you can tweak the audio settings for both the speakerphone and the headset using included software, which Logitech dubs SetPoint. For us, everything worked out of the box. Once the speakerphone was plugged in (via USB) and batteries were added to the keyboard and mouse, we were up and running.
The speakerphone has the feel of a quality device; it's much heavier than we anticipated. Along the bottom of the front edge are volume control buttons, a mute button, and two buttons to start and stop phone calls. Along the side are headphone and mic jacks for the included headset. The headset worked well, too, though we can't see anyone other than a cube dweller using it, given the fine quality of the speakerphone.
The keyboard itself is exceedingly comfortable to use. The keys are soft, perhaps too soft for some. They're also very quiet, which is perfect for typing while Skyping. Around the edge of the keyboard reside shortcut and media control buttons. Along the left are typical media control buttons--play/pause, fast-forward, rewind--along with two other useful keys: one opens the media player of your choice, and the other is a shuffle button for toggling that feature on and off in iTunes, for example. All of the function keys serve dual purposes, and their secondary actions are listed by small, blue icons. F9 through F12 can be used as speed-dial buttons for frequently called contacts.
Along the right side are VoIP-related buttons: one to launch your preferred Internet calling app, one to change your status (available, stepped out), one to initiate calls, one to end calls, and one to dial a phone number. Unfortunately, only one button worked with Skype; we were able to launch Skype as a result of configuring it in the SetPoint software, but then we had to use the mouse to make calls. You can also reprogram most of the shortcut keys to perform duties other than their default actions, but not the green button to begin a call and the red button to end a call. The same two buttons are featured on the speakerphone, and they didn't work for us either.
Perhaps they didn't work because EasyCall is optimized only for VoIP apps AIM and Yahoo Messenger in the U.S. Buy it in Europe, and it's optimized for Skype. We used Yahoo Messenger, however, and wouldn't call it an optimal experience. Though the sound quality remained high, the green button to initiate calls refused to work. And we could use the red button to hang up, but only on calls that we initiated. Thankfully, you can reprogram one of the function keys to initiate calls, for those who are averse to mice. If you are curious about which shortcut keys are enabled for your favored Internet calling app, check out this features chart on Logitech's Web site.
The mouse is of high quality, but we don't like it as much as Logitech's MX 1000 Laser mouse. It's a bit narrower than the MX 1000, but we'd probably grow accustomed to its shape over time. It features two programmable thumb buttons and two unique buttons along the top next to your index finger. The first is a rocker switch for zooming in and out of digital photos, Web pages, and so on. The button behind it returns the view to 100 percent.