A New Keyboard and Mouse
by Chris Taylor
I already had a Logitech Internet keyboard and a
Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer, I decided to throw $5
into the raffle at the June OPCUG meeting and take a
chance on the Microsoft MultiMedia Keyboard and Wireless
And I won!
I was a little leery about switching to a wireless mouse.
First, I am really cheap and therefore did not look
forward to buying batteries for a mouse. My past
experiences with battery life in mice was
say, less than stellar. And secondly, I was worried that
I would lose it all the time under the heaps of junk I
keep on my computer table.
My first concern may or may not be warranted. Microsoft
touts this mouse as having 3x longer battery
life. But longer than what? The web site has a line
Many users experience a half year of battery
does not sound so great to this
cheapskate. At least it takes 2 double-A batteries, which
are not too expensive. After three months, it is still
The operation of the mouse is exceptional. Very smooth
and responsive. I have always liked Microsoft mice and
when they moved to optical technologies I loved that I
could get rid of my mousepads. Unfortunately, I
discovered in my new computer room set-up that optical
mice do not work on glass table-tops. Oh well, I am back
to a mousepad.
There were a couple of things new to me for this mouse.
The wheel rolls smoothly, rather than with clicks. It
took a couple of days to get used to it, but I really
like it. Also, the wheel is one of the new
tilt models. You can scroll sideways by
tilting the wheel from side to side. Personally, I have
never really gotten used to using this feature. But it
has never accidentally interfered with anything either.
The keyboard has some very nice features. Across the top
is an array of buttons. There are buttons to open the My
Documents, My Pictures, and My Music folders. There are
buttons to launch your web browser, email program,
instant messenger and media player. Finally, there are
multi-media control buttons for play, pause, fast
forward/reverse, volume up/down, and a mute button. Those
I really like.
But then there is a weird dual nature for the function
keys. All the function keys can either be used normally
or for additional functions; Help, Undo, Redo, New, Open,
Close, Reply, Fwd, Send, Spell, Save, and Print. You can
toggle between the two sets of keyboard definitions with
the F Lock key visible at the top right in image
If you normally dont use function keys, I suppose
these can be really handy. But most keyboard jockeys use
function keys a lot. So I find I always leave the
function keys in their normal mode. What I really hate is
that fact that when I boot the computer it always comes
up with the function keys in the enhanced mode with the
different definitions. I have not been able to find any
way to get the computer to boot with the function keys in
normal mode. I am glad I dont boot my computer very
But now I come to what I really, really hate about this
keyboard. It would seem that Microsoft decided in their
infinite wisdom that the keyboard needed to be a little
bit narrower. So they decided to mess with the layout of
the cursor movement keys above the arrow keys (PgUp,
PgDn, Home, End, etc.). I happen to use the End key a
lot. If I am making a correction to something, the next
thing I am likely to do is return to where I was by using
the arrow keys to get to the right line and then hitting
the End key to move to the end of the line and continue
typing. Take a look at the 2 images of keyboards.
Keytronic is the layout of every sensible keyboard since
the 1980s. Microsoft shows the layout of the Microsoft
see the problem? Every time I go to hit the End key, I
end up hitting the Delete key instead! And dont get
me started on trying to get to the Insert key, which I
use all the time to select files in the wonderful file
management program Total Commander.
I tried to find someone at Microsoft willing to talk
about why they saw fit to mess around with a perfectly
good keyboard layout, but nobody ever got back to me.
I could get used to the new layout, but I work with
computers all day. There are 4 computers I use every day
and I am frequently logging on at other machines as well.
I am still using the keyboard and still deleting all
kinds of stuff accidentally. At some point, I will
probably throw the keyboard through a window or
something. If anyone at Microsoft is reading this, if you
will trade this keyboard for one with the keys laid out
the way God intended, let me know.
Wireless Intellimouse Explorer
Originally published: September, 2004
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The opinions expressed in these reviews
do not necessarily represent the views of the
Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.