Like many people who are quite happy keeping the inferior headphones bundled with their iPod, there are also a large amount who will never use a keyboard and mouse other than the ones that came with their PC. This is fine in some cases, as occasionally they tend to be rather good, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Together with your monitor, they're how you interact with your PC, and are vital to your ergonomic comfort - which surely makes them worth spending a little extra on. And if you're upgrading anyway, why not go for wireless?
While Microsoft might not be innovating as much with their desktop peripherals as its biggest competitor (Logitech, in case you were wondering), its 2.4GHz Wireless Laser Desktop 7000 we're looking at today is proof it can still put together a classy bit of kit. Not to be confused with the Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000, which had a mini-trackpad and ‘mouse' buttons on its keyboard, this set is for desktop use pure and simple.
First, a very minor gripe is Microsoft's packaging, which though attractive seems to get more intricate and complicated with every iteration. To offset this we have the usual excellent full-colour quick-start guide, and of course it's the hardware that matters, where it has to be said that initial impressions are very favourable indeed. Starting off with the Laser Mouse 7000 (available separately), its shape is identical to Microsoft's previous Laser Mouse 6000, which is no bad thing since that was quite a comfy critter. If you read my review of the 6000, you'll know all about the ergonomics of this newer mouse, since the shape, feel, buttons and wheel are all virtually the same.
The one area where the 6000 had me unconvinced was in the looks department, and this is where the newer 7000 really makes an impact. Though the central and side sections are made from different materials, they're the same matte black finish. This is beautifully offset by a curved chrome trim, the chrome Microsoft Laser logo, and amazingly, a tiny LED which also looks like solid metal when not lit up green.
The biggest difference between the 7000 and its lower-numeral sibling is that this mouse comes with its own charging station. Now for those of you who, like me, who don't like perishable, non-replaceable batteries, I've some good news: this rodent uses an actual NiMH AAA battery, rated at 1000mAh. This is far preferable to integrated Lithium batteries, which tend to lose charge-capacity over time before finally dying. But there are more advantages: you can keep a spare AAA battery around for when you forget to place your mouse in its cradle, and you can even use the 7000 as a portable mouse (though lacking the dongle-slot of the 6000, you'll need to make sure you don't lose the little stick).