Saturday, January 13, 2007

wireless keyboards and mice

I've been trying (and going through) wireless keyboards & mice this past few weeks. I bought a Kensington "wireless desktop" at a Wichita CompUSA about two weeks ago. I needed something because the keyboard on my faithul Pismo is not doing well: some keys repeat themselves with one keystroke, while others have to be hammered at to get one character to register. And, of course, I hadn't brought a keyboard with me from home. What I really wanted to get was one of those roll-up rubber keyboards, something that I could take with me in my bag, but the only one they had was just the basic keys - no home/end/page up/page down keys, no arrow keys and no number pad. I need those keys, so that wasn't going to work.

So, I bought the Kensington. Not bad, at fifty bucks. Took it back to the hotel room, plugged it in and it workd fine. For an hour or so, then the mouse died. Tried it on the in-laws' eMac, no joy. Brought it home & tried it on the wife's B&W, no joy, ditto for my 'buntubox. Better yet, the keyboard was starting to go, too. Unless I typed slowly, deliberately and made sure to push straight down on each key, I was lucky to get every other character to register. I decided after about a day of that that it just wasn't accepable, so I went to the Omaha CompUSA, intent on swapping for a different keyboard & mouse. I'd read enough on-line to realize that the Kensington rig is flawed.

After spending an hour or so looking at their selection of keyboards & mice, I settled on the Microsoft Optical Desktop Elite for Bluetooth. The box says it's only good on XP (and, I assume, Vista), but a quick gander at orderedbytes showed me that I could use it on a Mac, via ControllerMate. When I got it home and fired it up, it worked quite well, except that it'd drop connection with the keyboard or mouse every five minutes or so. I got tired of having to enter a 10-digit number every time I wanted to make the keyboard work again, but I found out that there's a "Favorite" option in the Bluetooth pref pane, whereby devices automatically re-connect. Sounded good and worked great, for a while.

Tonight, both the keyboard and mouse dropped connection, and wouldn't reconnect. Well, the keyboard reconnected, sort of. None of the keys did what they were supposed to do. Instead of scrolling down a page in Safari, the space bar would switch to System Preferences. If I hit command-tab to switch apps, the app switcher would endlessly scroll through the choices until I yanked the bluetooth dongle. Changed the batteries, no improvement.

I don't care for Microsoft's software, but over the years I've come to like most of their keyboards & mice. I've had four different Microsoft keyboards, and I finally had to toss one, after using it for almost seven years, then letting it set on a shelf in my barn/shop for another two years. I've also had two of their mice, and I like them, too. Just don't use the software Microsoft cobbled together for them.

Bottom line: Both the Kensington Wireless Desktop for Mac and the Microsoft Optical Desktop Elite for Bluetooth are pieces of crap. It can't be an inherent problem with wireless connections - I've got a Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman that I've been using for the last four or five years on several different boxes with very little problem.

I'll be taking this latest piece of crap back to CompUSA & getting my money back. When I was looking around last week, I saw they had a 104-key rubber, roll-up keyboard for about thirty bucks. Maybe I'll get one of those.


Martina said...

This is very nice keyboard and mice.

csf said...

Well, it's been a year and a half since my little experiment in wirelessness. They've had time to get it right, or, at the least, get it closer to right.

For what it's worth, I've been using a Logitech MX 5000 Bluetooth keyboard & mouse for the last six or seven months, and it works great.