Key Bored

I’ve just purchased a new keyboard and mouse, the cheapest part of an overdue upgrade for my aging desktop PC. I opted for a wireless combination from Microsoft, the Wireless Optical Desktop 1000. After using them for a day, I regret my decision and I hope PC World will take them back and give me a refund.

There are a number of issues with this kit that simply don’t work for me. First, they both only work within Windows, something I should probably have realised before I purchased. This is a problem, because I tinker in DOS and have a dual boot machine. I can’t now select my boot up options at startup because the PC won’t boot: I get the infamously ridiculous message: “Keyboard error or keyboard not found: Press F1 to continue”. To get around this, I still have to leave my old keyboard plugged into the PS2 port. A redundant exercise.

This keyboard also has a lot of multimedia keys (nice for invoking mediaplayer on a keypress) and lots of other functions that are attached to the function keys. While some of the pre-defined options are good(F1=Help, F12=Print), others make no sense to me as someone constantly on the web. F5 is tied to File/Open, so when I’m developing websites and constantly pressing F5 to refresh the page, I now get a file Open dialogue box. Yes, I can use the software to change these functions, but it’s still annoying.

The design of the keyboard is flawed too. The familar 6 buttons (Insert, Home, Page Up, Delete, End, Page Down) have been butchered. ‘Insert’ is now removed and attached as a sub function to the PrintScrn/SysRq button so you need to use a function key modifier to invoke it. Insane. And this means the nice collection of 2 rows of 3 useful keys has now been rotated and the delete key made twice as large. It now sits vertically, right next to the main Enter key. With my fingers becoming a little more inaccurate with age, you can see how this is causing me problems. I think it was a daft decision on the part of the designers. Delete isn’t so important that it needs a larger key.

The feel of the keyboard is also rather soft and squidgy; I prefer something with a bit of ‘click’ to it, and the form-factor is very large: it takes up nearly twice the amount of deskspace compared to my old trusty Dell keyboard.

The mouse is generally OK although it’s pretty heavy as it has to be loaded with two batteries. It’s heavy enough compared to previous mice that it’s a little uncomfortable to use and I don’t want to become too familiar with that.

So it’s back to the drawing board. I think I’ll opt for something a little more traditional and familiar, assuming I can get the refund.

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