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Predictably, after bringing to market optical and laser incarnations of its Wireless Desktop 3000 keyboard and mouse sets, Microsoft has updated the line to include its new BlueTrack sensor technology. Join us as we find out if this cordless combo really is one of the better-value sets around.
Unpacking the Desktop 3000 reveals a compact keyboard, mouse and dongle. Setup is a pinch, as you merely insert the four provided AA batteries into both the keyboard and mouse, plug in the pre-paired transceiver and you're off.
To get the most out of the set you'll also want to set up Microsoft's software for Windows or Mac, which when installed divides into Microsoft Mouse (IntelliPoint) and Microsoft Keyboard (IntelliType). It offers a range of functionality for the mouse, including a nice animated diagram to show each button as you select it, and though the keyboard side of things is more restrained, at least the driver lets you assign functions to various keys here too.
Back on the hardware front, the mouse of this set is Microsoft's Wireless BlueTrack Mouse 5000 which we reviewed a short while ago. The only difference is that the glossy black plastic strip at the peripheral's base is now white, as are the two side buttons for thumb and pinky-finger (which were silver on the standalone mouse). We preferred the look of the separate 5000, but the white trim here goes with that around the outside edge of the keyboard.
If you want a detailed examination of the 5000's ergonomics and performance we'd recommend a quick read through that review, but for those who don't want to bother here's what the mouse is like in a nutshell.
Its symmetrical shape and button layout make it ambidextrous, but also prevent it from being as comfortable as mice sculpted to fit a specific hand. Rubberised sides do help, but a glossy top shows up fingerprints and dust.
The mouse has five buttons, all of which offer crisp feedback. The four-way scroll wheel isn't notched so scrolling is consistently smooth, which of course isn't ideal for the odd game. There's also a slight concern with the wheel's build quality. Aside from this the 5000 is generally well-constructed and its BlueTrack sensor gives excellent tracking performance across almost any surface.
Since the 2,4GHz RF transceiver that comes with the Desktop 3000 is the same size as the one provided with the standalone 5000, it still fits into the recess in the mouse's base for easy travelling.