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Microsoft Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader review: Microsoft Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader

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The Good Easy to set up and use; software quickly recognizes your fingerprint.

The Bad Works only with Microsoft's own Internet Explorer browser.

The Bottom Line With Microsoft's Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader, you have a simple and safe way to access password-protected Web sites through Internet Explorer.

8.0 Overall

Microsoft Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader

Do you feel like you're fighting a losing battle against your ever-expanding list of Web site usernames and passwords? If you are tired of having to give Web sites your first car's make and model or your pet's name in order to be e-mailed your account information, Microsoft has the keyboard for you. Instead of always having to hunt for your passwords, with the Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader, you'll have them at the tip of your finger.

The $104 keyboard-and-wireless-mouse combo is easy to set up and requires little or no thought to use--provided your browser of choice is Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The software takes four scans of your finger (any one will do), after which you're ready to create fingerprint logins for your favorite sites. We visited Hotmail and Gmail; on both sites' login screens, we let the keyboard scan our fingerprint on file (left index). A small window popped up, asked for our username and password, and let us either choose Submit or enter options (for example, it recognized Gmail's Don't ask for my password for 2 weeks option).

Subsequent visits to the sites required only that we submit our fingerprint, which was quickly recognized in about one second, before IE granted access to our in-box. Unfortunately, we didn't have much luck with alternate browsers such as Netscape or Mozilla's Firefox. We were able to access one site with these browsers (fantasy-football site because it used a Windows password pop-up window, but all other attempts at using the fingerprint scanner failed. Still, for IE users, the Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader is a great tool for leaving your password problems in the past.

The keyboard itself comes with the standard array of multimedia and shortcut keys in addition to the fingerprint scanner, which sits on the left edge. The included mouse, Microsoft's Optical Wireless 2.0, requires two AA batteries and will serve most users well, although you may wish it had thumb-side buttons for added functionality.

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