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Belkin Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Whether you’re interested in the mobility options provided by wireless peripherals or if you just want to get rid of those @#%$ cables, the Belkin Wireless Keyboard and Mouse bundle is a high performing option at a very reasonable price.

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Introduction

I hate computer cables. Not enough to buy an i-Mac, of course, but I still hate the inevitable spaghetti that gathers around one’s PC and desk. Most of all I hate mouse and keyboard cables. PS/2 keyboard cables are typically pretty thick and love to snag on any and all objects. Some are even wound in a spiral in an attempt to keep them neat. All this succeeds in doing is making the cable too short and even more snag-prone. Mouse cables are the most egregious of all. They can find any crack or crevice and snag on it and over time they always develop curious and permanent bends that hinder free movement.

Belkin must have heard my cries of anguish (and cursing and muttering), for they have introduced the new and reasonably priced Wireless Keyboard and Mouse bundle. For the price of many competitor’s keyboards or mice alone, Belkin is offering both devices in a single box. And that includes the receiver, too – no hidden charges!

Features and benefits include:

  • Wireless connectivity is achieved through digital radio frequency auto-synchronization technology.
  • Patented auto-synchronization technology enables the receiver to automatically detect the mouse and keyboard, making setup and operation fast and convenient.
  • One channel offers 256 IDs, which alleviates interference, allowing for the best signal clarity.
  • The keyboard offers nine keys for multimedia and Internet access, which enables one-button selection of users’ favorite sites and applications.
  • Works up to 6 ft. from the receiver.
  • Offers 27MHz bandwidth.
  • Mouse works perfectly for both right- and left-handed users.
  • Features QuietType™ keyboard membrane technology for whisper operation.
  • Offers comfortable, long-term use with integrated wrist rest.
  • Comes with a Belkin Lifetime Warranty.

Setup & Installation

The package includes the keyboard, mouse, receiver, and batteries for the mouse and keyboard. Setup is extremely simple:

  • Remove your old mouse and keyboard drivers, if applicable. In my PC I replaced a Microsoft Intellimouse Optical mouse and basic Keytronic keyboard. The mouse driver was easy to uninstall in one step and the keyboard used the standard Windows driver.
  • Turn off the PC.
  • Plug in the receiver to the mouse and keyboard ports. The receiver has a single cable with two plugs at one end, one for the mouse port and one for the keyboard port on the PC.
  • Insert batteries. Two AAA’s for both the mouse and keyboard.
  • Turn on the PC. The directions state that the keyboard and mouse should automatically synchronize when the PC boots. This did not happen in my case. Troubleshooting, however, was very simple. All that was required was resetting the mouse, keyboard and receiver, which is accomplished by pushing a little button on each device. Once they were in synch I had an operating mouse and keyboard again and could move on to the next step.
  • Install drivers. The supplied drivers give the user added functionality beyond the standard Windows applets. Installation was straightforward and everything worked the first time.

Going Wireless

The Receiver

The receiver is roughly the size and shape of a flat bottomed hockey puck. Or a bagel. Without the hole. You get the idea. It has sufficient cord length to allow it to be placed wherever you need it on the desktop, but not so much that it’s in the way (we’re trying to reduce clutter, remember). The instruction manual advises placing it away from other electronic devices to prevent interference, but mine is snuggled up under the monitor and suffers no ill effects. The receiver does not require the mouse or keyboard to be in its line of sight and is tolerant of either device moving around without dropping the signal.

The Mouse

The mouse is very close in shape and size to the Microsoft Intellimouse. I found it to be a very comfortable fit (my hands aren’t small, but they aren’t freakishly big either). It features a scroll wheel that feels very similar to the Intellimouse. It does not, however, offer additional buttons beyond the standard left and right ones on the top.

At first I was concerned about the performance of the mouse because – it’s balled! I hate mouse balls almost as much as mouse cords, so I was very leery of switching back to the old ball and pad again. Fortunately, my fears were groundless. The mouse operated more smoothly than any I’ve used in years. The added weight of the batteries seems to help the ball stay in contact with the desktop surface. My desktop is vinyl that is slightly dimpled; I didn’t need a mouse pad for the mouse to work flawlessly.

In addition to being smooth and comfortable, the mouse works with admirable speed and precision. I’d forgotten how good a balled mouse could be! Not being anything more than a casual gamer, I’ve never really had problems with the reported slower response of the optical Intellimouse. The Belkin’s response felt very similar to that of the Intellimouse during a few hours play of No One Lives Forever 2. If you’ve got game and you find the response of optical mice lacking, you may have similar issues with the Belkin wireless. For me and the rest of the world, however, gaming response was just fine.

The Belkin mouse’s software allows you to adjust the usual speed, clicking, and scrolling parameters. Nothing exceptional here, but all the basics are well covered. In summary, the mouse is precise, smooth, and comfortable without a dad gum cord!

The Keyboard

The keyboard layout is standard, but with a few twists. My main keyboard is a standard Keytronics unit that clicks and clacks loudly with each key stroke. That’s neither good or bad, but it’s what I’m used to. My other keyboard, on the little-used kids’ PC, is a Logitech model that has almost a gelatinous feel to the keys. The keys don’t seem to stick out far enough and don’t feel like they fully engage when they are depressed. In short, I don’t like it. The feel of the Belkin keyboard is a pretty good balance between the two. There’s less of a clicking feel than the Keytronics board, but its not mushy like the Logitech. It’s definitely something I was able to get used to.

The keys are slightly different than what I’m used to, however. The Enter button is ‘L’ shaped, whereas my other keyboards (including a Compaq at my real job, and the Compaqs and Dells of my fellow cubicle dwellers) have an Enter button shaped differently than that of the Belkin. The Belkin’s is L-shaped versus a rectangular one for the other keyboards. I vaguely recall using L-shaped buttons in the past, but I can’t recall if that’s from mainframe 3270 keyboards or older PCs. Yes, I am ancient. Either design is fine but I do find myself re-acclimating to each board as I switch from my work PC to my home PC. It’s not a problem, just a difference between them is all.

The Insert, Home, Page Up, Delete, End, and Page Down keys are are arranged in portrait mode on the Belkin versus landscape on the other three keyboards. This has taken some time to get used to. Again, it’s neither wrong or right, just different. It is a different, though, that has taken longer to adjust to.


Different strokes for different folks?

An interesting feature is the removal of the Caps and Num Lock indicators from the keyboard to the System Tray. The lighted indicators found on standard keyboards would, I assume, use up precious battery life. Belkin’s answer was to place two icons in the System Tray indicating the Lock status. Fortunately, these can be easily turned off because I don’t need visual reminders that I’m typing in ALL CAPS. :-)

The Belkin keyboard also comes with 9 additional keys for multimedia and Internet access. One can launch the default browser and mail client with the keys as well as adjust/mute volume controls, and perform searches. The keys cannot be remapped, however, so WYSIWYG in this case.

The keyboard also features an integrated wrist rest. While not as comfortable as the 3M gel rest that I typically use, I didn’t notice any pain or fatigue either. Which must mean that it works. :-)

The mobility of the keyboard proved its virtue when gaming. It wasn’t much of a factor when playing various FPS games, but when I switched to Rallisport Challenge and my Logitech steering wheel it was a big benefit to get the keyboard out of the way and still be able to use it. Rallisport Challenge is a console port so the keyboard must be used for some options/commands. This would have been a real pain with a corded keyboard but with the Belkin it was a breeze to set up the game with the keyboard on my lap then set it aside once I was ready to race.

Receiver Reception

Belkin states that the wireless combo has an effective range of 6 feet and it does work as advertised. So if want to type with a keyboard on your lap and your feet propped up on your desk, go right ahead. You’ll have to figure out where and how to park and balance the mouse pad, however.

Battery Life

Battery life is listed as approximately one month of continuous 3-4 hours usage per day. I’ve been using the combo steadily for 4 weeks now at those hours or more with no loss of functionality. It would appear that the stated battery life is indeed accurate.

Conclusion

Even though they are sold together, I’m grading the mouse and keyboard separately because one does not have purchase a combination package to go wireless.

The mouse

The mouse gets a 9 out of 10! It fits in the hand nicely, operates smoothly, and is accurate and responsive. Game Gods may have an issue with its response rate (perceived or real), but it did everything I asked of it with aplomb. And without bothersome cable!

The keyboard

The keyboard gets an 8 out of 10. I like the feel of the keys and overall functionality of the keyboard, but I am puzzled as to why some of the keys are shaped and placed differently than other keyboards. As I said, the changes aren’t necessarily better or worse but for those of us who must bounce between desks it is a change. And change isn’t always good when it comes to touch typing.

Key (no pun intended) issues aside, the Belkin keyboard is comfortable, easy to use, and greatly increases your range of movement at the desk.

Whether you’re interested in the mobility options provided by wireless peripherals or if you just want to get rid of those @#%$ cables, the Belkin Wireless Keyboard and Mouse bundle is a high performing option at a very reasonable price.

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