Microsoft Wireless Keyboard and Mouse 

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It's almost impossible to buy a new computer without a keyboard and mouse - and so here I review the latest contribution to my keyboard/mouse mountain.

Microsoft continue to develop and deliver keyboard and mice products optimised to support their operating systems. In this case I'm reviewing a wireless combination - mouse and keyboard.

Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 1.1

Keyboard : Wireless Multimedia Keyboard 1.1

First of all the keyboard. This has a standard QWERTY layout and numeric keypad. Along the top of the keyboard are a row of 'media' buttons allowing one-touch navigation/launch to documents, pictures, music, email, web browser and messenger.

My first point of criticism comes with the 'standard' cursor navigation keys. I say standard, because Microsoft in their infinite wisdom have decided to adopt a non-standard and infuriating layout.

The usual block of four arrow keys are present, but above those where one would expect to find a set of six navigation keys (insert, delete, home, end, page up and page down), one instead finds only five. These five are organised in a two column by three key block, with the delete key being double size.

Crazy layout of standard keys : Microsoft multi-media keyboard

The insert key has been relegated to the function key block on the 'PrtScn/SysRq' key. As a frequent typist I find it infuriating to have standard keys moved around - especially when there is no need. It creates both problems migrating to this keyboard and problems next time you're at a different machine and are faced with the traditional layout. It's like renting a car and finding that the accelerator and clutch have been swapped and an extra peddle added between them to work the gears.

I've been using this keyboard for several months now and still hit the wrong key and have to visually look to get the right one.

Microsoft are unfortunately not alone in thinking these keys can be shuffled around with each new keyboard - this seems to be a growing trend.

The message I'd send is add any fancy media buttons you want around the standard keys but do not change either the qwerty or navigation keys. If you want to play with anything make it the numeric keypad.

OK - second gripe. This is more of an integration with Vista (and probably XP) issue. In the top-right of the keyboard are a set of three small buttons : 'calculator', 'log off' and 'sleep'. If you accidentally brush the sleep button, as I've done on several occasions, it does just as it says. Puts your machine to sleep. You can be mid sentence and your machine goes to sleep requiring first of all a wait for it to complete going to sleep, then the hassle of making it wake up again. Would a confirmation box in Vista have been so much trouble?

These gripes are a real pity, because the action of the keys are pretty good - certainly one of the better keyboards I've used, although of course no match for my now defunct IBM version from around 15 years ago!

Last problem then I'll shut-up! Despite having the wireless transceiver only around five centimetres from the keyboard on a fairly frequent basis I'm told that the quality of the wireless signal between keyboard and receiver is poor and that performance may therefore suffer. I've tried replacing batteries but to no avail. I've used plenty of other wireless mice in the same position and never had a problem.

Mouse : Standard wireless optical mouse

The mouse forms the second part of this set. This is another disappointment. The mouse itself has a good feel to it, although it's a little light in handling. It's a fairly standard configuration with two main buttons and a tracker wheel in the middle that doubles as a third button.

Unfortunately the wheel itself appears to be pretty ineffective. Sometimes it will scroll, but often it won't. I've now given up on the mouse and returned to my trusty Kensington Wireless Mini mouse - consigning this one to the bottom of my 'spares' draw.


Would I buy this product? In short No. The combination of poor mouse performance and bad keyboard layout decisions have made the whole experience of using this product frustrating. It's probably fine if you don't do a lot of typing, or want a keyboard to go with your media-centre PC, but even then the warnings about wireless signal strength when both transmitter and receiver are so close would worry me about using this on the other side of a room!

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Comment by Scotty, Oct 2, 2012 2:49

Cheap & nasty is what you get. Never buying Microsoft hardware again, battery life is atrocious but worst of all is the impossibility of playing a game that involves moving a character with keys while changing direction with a mouse- ie 50% of games you have to dig out the old cabled mouse & keyboard :(  Tech savvy so beleive me there is no easy technical fix to this problem- ordered new Logitech combo today so I can finally bin this rubbish.

Comment by Mike Trout, Feb 25, 2009 23:45

I want to know how to set the My Documents, My Pictures, My Music buttons on the keyboard to default to certain files

Comment by dissappointed, Dec 7, 2008 10:51

Completely agree!!  It basically does not work.  Bought it for my home media center and it is terrible.  The keyboard goes out if it is further than 12 inches, and when ever the direct line of sight between the two are broken for longer than a second, the receiver loses track and you have to reset both.  Hope no one is in front of the receiver and you, not that it will matter, because the thing only works about half the time any way.  Microsoft has yet again put out a crappy product, knowingly, and left the buyer in the hole for an overpriced paperweight.  

Comment by John, Feb 2, 2008 23:01

I agree wholeheartedly with teh reviewers comments.  I returned my keyboard and mouse because of the faulty mouse scroll wheel.  Unfortunately they had a spare and replaced the whole kit.  I have now found that it interferes with Vista's screensaver and flattens the clock battery on the ASUS motherboard.  Avoid!

Comment by Lindsey Hustwait, Sep 20, 2007 20:39

I also agree whole heartedly with the above review. I especially found the problem with week signal between keyboard and receiver frustrating. Unfortunatly I lost the reciept otherwise I would have taken it straight back. As it is, with the problems with the mouse (as listed above) and the ineffective keyboard, I can't even Ebay it for fear of poor feedback. Useless. Buyers beware.

Comment by rg, Jul 16, 2007 12:52

This review mirrors my experiences with this product exactly...

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