Logitech Cordless Desktop Express
Logitech's entry-level wireless keyboard/mouse combination package may look plain, but at only $50 it's the cheapest product we reviewed for our Spotlight on wireless input devices.
Installation is a cinch: You hook up the two-cable receiver to the mouse and keyboard ports on the back of your PC, place the keyboard and mouse in front of the receiver, turn on your PC, press the Connect button on the receiver, press the corresponding button on the mouse, and go through the same process with the keyboard. After a few seconds, you're ready to go. (If you want to customize the keyboard or the mouse's buttons, you need to install the software, too.) It took our testers just a couple of minutes. In fact, setting up the Desktop Express was the fastest and most straightforward installation of all the keyboard/mouse combo packages we tested, thanks to the software's wizard, which sets up a secure connection between your keyboard and the receiver (the secure mode is not turned on by default).
The sparsely populated keyboard has only four customizable buttons. Using its intuitive software, you can change the buttons for your e-mail program, a Web home page, the Windows Calculator, and the Back button into quick-launch buttons for any application, Web page, or keystroke combination. Logitech provides a longer list of options for the e-mail button: You can point to Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Hotmail, or MSN Explorer (the company's preset option), or to any other program or keystroke.
Compared with the layout of Logitech's DiNovo Media Desktop, the Desktop Express's keys were spaced a little farther apart. Even though the keys felt soft to the touch, the typing response was still firm, and the keys moved quietly with barely a clicking sound. As on Microsoft's Basic Wireless Optical Desktop, the Delete key has a long and skinny bar shape, so getting used to it took a while. You can raise the keyboard about an inch using the small legs on the underside of the unit. In our tests, without the legs in place, the keyboard felt too flat to type on. The plastic wrist pad, which snapped on easily, made a difference, helping to keep wrists in a more neutral position and easing the transition from the desk to the keyboard. (Of course, your experience may be different; not everyone likes wrist rests.)
Neither big hands nor little hands will have trouble with the ambidextrous mouse. Its gentle curve was easy on the palm, and the right-click and left-click buttons were fairly big. At default settings the scroll wheel tended to move the cursor too rapidly, and the mouse pointer was overly sensitive. The cursor, in particular, flew around the screen, almost uncontrollably, but adjusting the software settings set the crazy cursor and the scroll wheel straight.
With 30 different options in all, the mouse was much more customizable than the keyboard. You can configure any of the three controls--right-click button, left-click button, or scroll wheel--to perform functions such as opening Windows Help, executing the Paste command, starting a search, or closing an application. You can also assign a specific function to pressing the scroll button (versus rolling the wheel up or down).
The keyboard needs two AAA batteries; the mouse, two AA batteries (all included). According to Logitech, the mouse should run about three months, and the keyboard should last up to a year.
At $50, this is the cheapest possible way to go wireless, but the keyboard scrimps on programmable keys.
Aoife M. McEvoy
Logitech Cordless Desktop Express