Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 Review

Disclaimer: This is a Microsoft asset-tagged item that Microsoft Corporation provided ActiveWin and Teching It Easy for review under no obligation and that it is expected to be returned at the end of the review period.

Features:

Keyboard Mouse

Gadgets Button

One-touch access to gadgets like weather, news, stock quotes, and more

Media Controls

Control your media activities with the touch of a button.

Windows Live Call Button

One-touch access to your Windows Live Messenger buddy list

My Favorites Hot Keys

Customize these five touch-sensitive keys to instantly bring up the folders, files and web pages you use most.

Windows Start Button

Simply press to launch you Start menu. Use it to search your PC or the web with Windows Vista installed.

Navigation PAD

You’re in command with integrated touch pad cursor control.

Proximity awareness

Your presence wakes the keyboard – saving battery life while not in use.

Windows Media Center Start Button

Quickly launch Media Center Functions

Instant Viewer

Click the scroll wheel button to display open windows

4-way scrolling

Scroll side to side as up and down

Magnifier

Just point and press to enlarge and edit details.

Recharging

Mouse charging Station

One look at Microsoft’s Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 and you will know this keyboard and mouse combination is all about Windows Vista. Featuring an innovative sleek design, these input devices deliver a first class experience on Microsoft’s consumer operating systems. The first time you take notice of the keyboard you will immediately admire its slim compact design, but begin to discover the differences that set it apart from traditional keyboards. I am one of those persons who love light and this keyboard wins already by making it easy to move around your living room or bedroom when using the Media Center functionality.

A significant aspect of the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000, is well, it’s “Wireless”, but requires some initial setup to achieve this experience. The keyboard for instance requires 4 AA alkaline batteries and 1 rechargeable battery for the mouse, all included in the package. Also included is a Mini Bluetooth Transceiver which provides the wireless signal for both devices. According to the package, the Bluetooth wireless speed is at 2.4 GHz allowing connectivity at a range of up to 30 feet.

Wireless Laser 7000 keyboard – Setup:

I tested the Wireless Laser 7000 Bluetooth keyboard on Vista Ultimate Edition; Home Premium in addition to Windows XP Media Center is also supported. You are most likely not going to use it on Vista Business or Home Basic since those editions are missing certain functionality such as Media Center which is a highlight of the keyboard integration, but I don’t see anything preventing you from doing so. Also, the lack of a dedicated numeric pad wouldn’t make it ideal for number crunchers either, although you can still access an embedded one using the Fn command. So its clear to begin with, this is a multimedia based keyboard with a target audience in mind. After opening the box, I took out the User Guide and installation CD; a green pamphlet provides a notice requiring that you install a critical update from http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/vistaupdate before proceeding with installation.

This update provides stability improvements to the USB stack under Vista x86 and x64 for Microsoft keyboard and Mice. So before connecting the Wireless Laser 7000 keyboard I used my existing corded keyboard to prepare my system. The installation from the Drivers CD which comes with Microsoft IntelliPoint and IntelliType 6.1 software was very simple. Parts during the installation require that you select the appropriate model number for the keyboard and mouse. After the installation completed, the Bluetooth wizard starts which prepares both mouse and keyboard to operate wirelessly in addition to devices such as Bluetooth based PDA’s and Printers that can be peered to function with the Bluetooth dongle.

 

It is important that you select the device model during setup. To see more screenshots from the installation, click HERE

Usage:

The first real world experience I tried on the keyboard was typing a document in Microsoft Word. To be honest, it takes some adjustment; the keyboard has a similar curved layout found on the Acer Ferrari 5000 laptop only with larger keys. Typing was responsive, but the large alphabetical keys resulted in numerous mistakes at first. I notice the alphabet keys are not consistent in size either, the ‘N’ and ‘B’ keys for instance are strangely the largest, I don’t know if this is based on research. The more I began using it the more I felt I had to study the keyboard to become more adjusted. The four way arrow keys are unusually slim which in some scenarios can result in accidentally hitting the wrong arrow if you are utilizing them in a particular task such as navigating through Media Center or a spreadsheet.

As noted there is no dedicated numeric keypad, then again, this is not a keyboard for accountants, it’s called the Wireless “Entertainment” Desktop for a reason. The tactile feed back from the keyboard is very good, the last keyboard that I did appreciate typing on is the one included with IBM’s Aptiva desktop systems. The response was instant, it’s definitely a pleasure to type on, and the keys themselves are more like those you find on laptops. The keyboards curvature provides an almost ergonomic layout that makes it easier on wrist movement, it’s not a definite replacement for Microsoft’s Natural Keyboard, but does provide a welcome level of comfort when in long usage.

Function keys are another major difference that I immediately noticed. Instead of traditional keys, Touch Sensitive buttons are used instead along with embedded keys you can easily activate with the function “Fn” key command. The function keys are divided into four distinctive sets with a combination of modes depending on the environment. You have quick access to common explorers such as Music and Pictures along with embedded functions for quick access to Windows Live Messenger and your home page when in your web browser. When I was about to take screenshots of the Intelli software installation, I became a bit perplexed at how I would do an ALT + PRSCRN. Surprisingly it worked well although you are left feeling unsure if the command was done because of a lack of tactile feedback. Of course it adds to the style and elegance of the keyboard making it lighter and more simplified.

The Wireless Laser 7000 is very well organised, both sides feature buttons that make handling the keyboard easy and logical. On the left side are integrated mouse buttons that act as pointing devices and works in accordance with the Navigation pad on the right side which curiously can also be used as a pointing device for navigating up, down, left and right depending on the mode it is set to.

Wirelessly moving through Windows Media Center 🙂

Design & Technologies

The keyboard accents Vista nicely by featuring a physical Vista pearl Start Button for quickly accessing programs and launching commands. The hand rest features proximity awareness which intelligently detects your presence and wakes the keyboard when in use, great for conserving battery life. I like the two tone finish which is combination of dark grey textured finish and silver frame surrounding the keys.

The left side of the keyboard features quick access to buttons for Magnification and Windows Sidebar Gadgets. When the magnifying glass is enabled, a rectangular window appears enlarging items on screen. Player controls are also available for Media player and Media Center which make it easy to manipulate your music so you can pause, play and scan through tracks directly from the keyboard. In addition to these I also discovered buttons for Volume, Mute and Channels which comes in handy when you are operating in Media Center from your sofa or bed. A Windows Live Call Button is also available for quick access to your Live Messenger Buddy list. I like the focus on making the keyboard a part of the living room while still maintaining its traditional functionality when working in a two feet environment, the remote and touch pad capabilities left me highly impressed.

Media Center

The keyboard features an integrated Media Center Start button for quick access. Using the keyboard in Media Center is very good! Once you set the Navigation Pad to the right mode; located at the upper extreme right of the keyboard, it makes it a cinch flying through the Media Center interface. If you are in one of the Media Center locations such as Picture or Music libraries, you can easily go back to the interface home by hitting the green button. I used the Media Center and wireless capabilities at approximately eight feet away and continued browsing, listening to music and navigating without any hindrance. The Navigation Pad is really a nice addition; if you are using it in the living room you can easily enjoy your multimedia and get work done at the same time. It would have been nice if the keyboard also featured a tracking ball (found on some laptops) to provide some fluidity in movement through out the Windows environment when not in Media Center. You can do it with the Navigation Pad when set back to mouse mode, but it’s so small, and hinders the time it takes to move the pointer to a part of the user interface. I could have used the mouse too, but would defeat the purpose of having this feature integrated in the keyboard in the first place. What I find strange is you can already accomplish some of the Navigation Pads capabilities with the four way arrow keys and the Enter button, so at times I was left confused why its there in the first place.

Laser 8000 Mouse Instant Viewer

Wireless Laser 8000 Bluetooth Mouse

As I already noted, the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 includes a mouse, which uses a 1,000 DPI laser sensor. Included with the Mouse is a rechargeable NiMH AA battery, a companion recharging base is also provided. In comparison to the wireless Bluetooth Ferrari 5000 mouse its very light, but not as light as the Logitech MX Revolution which I recently reviewed. It does a good job, there really are no surprising features that really set it apart, but the standard features make it very comfortable and productive to use. Don’t be mistaken though, this mouse still does feature some innovative features which I enjoyed using such as the Instant Viewer which gives you quick access to your open windows. The Laser 8000 also features four- way scrolling so you can scroll side to side, in addition to up and down. It’s not a dedicated gaming mouse, but works quite well in first-person shooter games, there is a bit of slugginess when using in fast games and in some cases this will hinder persons who have good game reflexes.

Software

The ability to customize your keyboard and mouse is also one of the great functions of this package. Both Keyboard and Mouse tie into Vista’s existing settings and adds their enhanced tools for customization. The IntelliPoint software provides straightforward options for remapping the various commands that are available, whether you are a gamer or need specific options for working in a particular program. You can also tweak the mouse speed for faster feedback when clicking. I personally chose not to alter any of the default settings. The highlight of the Laser 7000 Entertainment keyboard customization is the Favourites Hot Keys for which you can assign quick access to your most commonly used programs. As you can see in the following screenshot, I had assigned commands to the programs I most often use daily such as Microsoft Word, Media Player, Photo Gallery, Firefox and ActiveWin.com. You can also use the Favourites button above the F10 key which calls up a dialog from which you can customize on the fly or launch the desired application. I would have liked if the Laser 8000s Instant Viewer took advantage of Vista’s existing ALT +TAB application switcher instead of using its own implementation, although it’s still nice to look at, but I notice when I click the scroll wheel as advertised, it does not immediately appear.

Quirks and Glitches

The day before this review was published; my brother came over to visit and also wanted to check out the new hardware I was reviewing. I was excited to show him the many features and wow him with the wireless capabilities. It kind of happened the way I wanted it to, I launched MCE using the MCE button, but strangely enough, when I switched to navigation mode on the Navigation Pad, the Up and Down arrows did not work at all, when I switched back to the Pointing Device mode, the mouse functionality did not work either. Then I navigated to the contents of a library, and pressed the MCE Start button to go back instantly to the MCE home screen, it activated the Start Panel. A restart eventually sorted things out and my brother was overall impressed by the wireless capabilities and the keyboards sleek design. The Laser 8000 was not without its quirks either, when I went to demonstrate Instant Viewer, clicking scroll again did not instantly bring up the application, it almost felt like a lucky hit when it eventually came up.

Final Thoughts

What can I say? I love the Wireless Entertain Desktop 7000 and I am positively overwhelmed by its many features. Its tight integration with Windows Vista will leave users of the operating system very impressed and comfortable. When I look back at my Dell PS/2 keyboard, I have to wonder how am I going readjust to it after having such a great time with the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 <sigh>. Although there are some misses in areas such as no numeric keypad and touch based functions might require some getting accustomed to, the Laser Desktop 7000 is a great combination when used with Media Center and the Vista OS’s various features. The Laser 8000 mouse when coupled with Vista also shines and includes really productive features that make it a treat for users. While it’s not for gamers, it’s a great value when combined with the Laser 7000 keyboard, the wireless capabilities in addition to the recharging station results in very high points. Overall, I would recommend this to any home user running Microsoft’s multimedia operating systems, whether Vista or XP Media Center, it’s great for general purpose and media center activities. I am happy to say, this package is designed to improve your user experiences in the living room for the better.

Andre

Keyboard

Pros Cons
Sleek Compact Design

Lack of tactile feedback from function keys leaves users feeling unsure

Light Requires Four AA Batteries
Wireless/Bluetooth Navigation Pad does not work well throughout entire Vista operating (recommend track ball)
Tight Integration with Media Center and quick access to programs through MCE and Vista Start buttons Repetitive features
Favourite Hot Keys Inconsistent key sizes, takes a little adjustment
Proximity Awareness  
Customizable/Easy to setup  

Mouse

Pros Cons
Quick Access to functionality – Magnifier, Open Application Viewer Instant Viewer should take advantage of Vista’s Flip 3D instead using its own implementation
Light Not optimized for really fast games.
Wireless/Bluetooth Clicking scroll wheel to activate Instant Viewer is not as instant as advertised.
Rechargeable Battery  
Customizable/Easy to setup  

In the Box:

  • Recharging station 
  • AC power cord 
  • Bluetooth dongle 
  • Microsoft IntelliPoint and IntelliType 6.1 software
  • Setup guide
  • One Rechargeable battery (for Laser 8000 Mouse)
  • Four AA Alkaline batteries (for Laser 7000 Keyboard)

Ratings:

  • Installation: 90 % 
  • Ease of Use: 86%
  • Features: 95%
  • Design: 95%
  • Options: 95%
  • Help & Documentation: 85%
  • Price: 90%

Overall: 95%

Price $129
Certified for Windows Vista

Check out the Microsoft Wireless Entertain Desktop 7000 Gallery HERE

Windows Vista Logo Program: http://www.windowsvista.com/lookforthelogo

Microsoft Hardware: http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/productdetails.aspx?pid=081

 Previous Reviews:
Logitech MX Revolution mouse 
Acer Ferrari 5000

2 Comments

Filed under Reviews

2 responses to “Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 Review

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