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Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop Elite review: Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop Elite

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MSRP: $105.00

The Good Relatively inexpensive; many easy-to-program specialty keys; scrollwheel moves vertically and horizontally; long battery life.

The Bad Keyboard easily collects dirt and grime; scrollwheel feels spongy.

The Bottom Line Microsoft’s Wireless Optical Desktop Elite is a solid and affordable choice for the home or the office.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall

Review Sections

Microsoft's Wireless Optical Desktop Elite keyboard-and-mouse combo isn't nearly as awe inspiring as Logitech's DiNovo Media Desktop, but with tons of programmable options, a horizontal scrollwheel, and significant improvements in battery life, it's well suited for work and play. Plus, at $105, you could buy two Elite packages for every DiNovo.

Based on RF technology, the black-and-gray Desktop Elite is a cinch to set up: simply install the IntelliPoint software from the included disc, hook up the wireless receiver, and connect the mouse and keyboard. The simple software allows you to customize the mouse buttons and reassign the keyboard's multitude of specialty keys, which lie along the top of the keyboard. Alternatively, you can program these keys to open everything from apps to individual documents simply by holding the key down for several seconds over the page you want to assign them to.

Other specialized keys include ones for controlling music playback, pulling up the Windows calculator, logging off the current user, and putting your PC to sleep. On the keyboard's far left, you'll find a built-in scrollwheel and Back and Forward buttons for Internet surfing. Like the mouse's scrollwheel, this one can navigate pages both horizontally and vertically, an especially useful trick for ultrawide Excel spreadsheets.

The Elite's keyboard is far less shallow than the DiNovo's and offers an equally excellent (although very different) typing experience. In our tests, keys felt springy and made a satisfying clicking noise. The built-in wrist pad, covered with nice, fake-leather material, brings a bit of luxury to play. Our only complaint is that the keyboard seems to catch and reveal dust and grime more than competing models do.

As for the IntelliMouse Explorer, the device is formed to fit perfectly under your right hand, and it has the five buttons we require from a higher-end mouse; however, it's missing the DiNovo mouse's button for cycling through open programs, as well as buttons for quickly moving up and down pages. The horizontal- and vertical-scrolling wheel worked well, although we didn't appreciate its cushy, gelatinous feel.

The Optical Desktop Elite's biggest claim to fame is Microsoft's recent innovations in battery life. The company claims that the mouse and keyboard can last a whopping six months on just two standard, AA batteries and three months on just one battery. Although we haven't tested the devices for a full six-month cycle yet, they're still going strong after more than three months.

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