Logitech MX 3200 cordless desktop

July 1st, 2007 Desktop, Gadgets & Hardware, Tech

The stock standard PC keyboard and mouse hasn’t evolved much since the advent of personal computing. Aside from the function keys and some standard shortcuts using the control or option keys, most of what we do is still done moving a pointer across the screen and clicking.

But the precision of striking a key is still more comfortable and a lot faster than directing the mouse and any effort to move commonly executed tasks from mouse clicks to keystrokes is welcome.

The Logitech MX3200 is a cordless keyboard and mouse set, a device that comes with an obvious initial feature — that of having no cord. But the real value in the product is that it pre-empts some of the tasks computer users perform often by moving them to the keyboard for one-touch activation.

It’s a solid black keyboard with clearly marked keys and the spacious layout you’re used to in a desktop keyboard, all function, arrow and extended numerical keys in the standard position. With a wrist pad at the bottom and digital readout at the top, it’s a little bigger than the standard PC keyboard, and makes use of the space not only to make sure everything is spaced comfortably but to include extra keys across the top and down one side.

Just some of the one-tap controls include playing music, initiating searches on the web and your local system, opening Microsoft Office applications, making VOIP calls, scrolling through and closing windows, even bringing up the Windows calculator.

Taking the same simple-yet-revolutionary concept further, the same web search shortcut you’ll find on the keyboard can be found in a tiny button on the mouse right under your thumb — just highlight the word in your document you want to search for and click the button.

The keyboard and mouse work by transmitting to a dongle that plugs into your USB port, and most of the functions work without even installing the included software. Simply load the keyboard and mouse with batteries, connect the dongle and you’re wireless. Some of the subtler functions need the software but if you’re just in the market for a wireless keyboard you’re ready to work virtually out of the box.

It’s also Vista-ready, although there were a few hiccups. The first install of the software rendered the whole system completely silent, although when we uninstalled and reinstalled the software everything worked fine. It takes full advantage of Vista’s application switching graphics from right on the mouse buttons, but if you don’t have the latest and greatest system with the necessary graphics drivers there’ll be some functions you frustratingly can’t use.

Being simply cordless is the value proposition of most cordless peripherals, but you’re not going to take a device this size on the road. It gives you a little freedom of movement on a desktop but renders the cordless aspect somewhat redundant. Thankfully cordless is only the beginning — if all these features came in a keyboard and mouse you had to plug in, it would still be worth buying.

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