Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Product Review: Microsoft Wireless Laser Keyboard 6000 V2.0

My old MS keyboard has been behaving flaky lately. It was about two years old, and had a lot of miles on it.

So, I have replaced it with the new Microsoft Wireless Laser Keyboard 6000 V2.0 (WLK). It came with Microsoft's new Laser Mouse 6000.

I won't be using the new Microsoft mouse except as a backup.

I currently use a Logitech MX Laser that fits my hand really well, and has an absolutely amazing level of precision when working in apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. It is also rechargeable.

On that note, I let the batteries exhaust completely before putting the mouse on the charger cradle/receiver. I do this because it gives the batteries their longest possible lifespan. Rechargeable batteries have a plug-in life, that is they will die after so many charge cycles. They also have memories. Yes, even the Lithium-Ion ones have a memory.

So, when my Logitech batteries die, I get a chance to work with the Microsoft mouse that came with my keyboard. And, when I do that, it just reinforces why I won't use it:
  • It is not comfortable to hold.
  • Its contours are just a little off for me.
  • And, I miss the multiple button features on the Logitech.
On to the keyboard.

After so many years slinging a wrench - I was a few work experience hours away from my journeyman mechanic's license when I got into computers - I need the ergonomic style of keyboard for my wrists.

The first generation ergonomic keyboards were painful for us touch-typers. Microsoft and Logitech both shifted the 5 key over to the right finger, or with later revisions, they shifted the 6 key over to the left finger. There really wasn't a whole lot of consistency as to where those two numbers turned up! One needed to "relearn" to type.

I now use those previous generation keyboards in the shop, and they still cause me to stumble!

I am very picky about my keyboard. I prefer a certain type of resistance in the keys to my touch. That resistance must notify me through my fingers that the key has indeed been activated.

The WLK does not have the same feel as my previous Comfort Keyboard 1.0A. The Comfort Keyboard keys had a lot more travel to them, and a resistance point about two thirds of the way through the keystroke.

The WLK has a very short key stroke, and the resistance point is almost immediate. It is going to take a little getting used to. It is also quite quiet. So, no real feedback from sound.

The keys themselves are recessed right into the body of the keyboard. This feature makes it a bit different to ALT+TAB for me as my fingers hit the body edge on the left side of the keyboard. This is of course on Windows XP. Windows Vista with Aero Glass enabled will change that as I will be using the WIN+TAB or WIN+SHIFT+TAB keys for the 3D view of each open window.

The quick keys are fairly standard on all keyboards now, and they work. There is a new key for Windows Vista's Gadgets. But, since I am not running Windows Vista on this particular system yet, I won't be able to use it! ;)

All in all, this is a good quality keyboard.

The keys are easy to use, and they provide reasonable feedback. The ergonomic curve of the keys is good, especially for me. I am able to keep my hand-wrist-arm quite straight, which really eases the stress on the wrists for extended periods at the keyboard.

All in all, I will recommend this keyboard product to our clients who request ergonomic keyboard references.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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