Given the flaws of the Microsoft combo, Logitech has a great chance to inflict a blow on its major rival. Coming in at a steep Â£117.11, it certainly had to be good and thankfully, it is.
For a start, it works with both Windows 2000 and XP and the provided Bluetooth hub will connect up to seven Bluetooth devices, as well as synchronise with your PDA or mobile phone. The hub also doubles up as a charging cradle for the mouse, so no battery problems here.
Like the Microsoft combo, it also looks great out of the box. The Dell-inspired black and silver styling is perhaps not quite as eye catching as Microsoftâ€™s chosen blue, but it is easier to match with your computer and would look simply fantastic alongside any black flat screen monitor.
To aid with the installation, Logitech provides a large fold out guide which gets you set up in nine steps. It is similar in style to the one provided with the Samsung SCX-4216F multifunction printer I reviewed last week and just as handy. It needs to be however, because Logitech provides a whole host of cables, with PS2 setup available as well as USB. The hub itself also runs off a separate AC Adapter and is the only one of the five combos in the group to need a direct power connection. The additional features of the Logitech hub may require more power than the other units, which justifies the extra cables, though it is a strange feeling to add these to the spaghetti already behind your PC when you are meant to be installing a wireless device.
In use, the keyboard felt instantly familiar. Iâ€™ve had a wired Logitech multimedia keyboard for two years now and the basic layout and footprint remains the same. I have always enjoyed typing on my old keyboard so in a way it was nice to know that Logitech will not change designs for the sake of it. The new keys do make a slightly thicker noise, but that is an improvement over the old one. Unlike Microsoft, Logitech has not altered the basic 105 key layout but like Microsoft, it has emphasised the secondary functions of the F keys. There are text labels under the pictures on the multimedia keys, but using a dark grey front on a light grey background was not the best of ideas. The keyboard also requires four batteries compared to Microsoftâ€™s two, but unlike the latter, I suffered no problems with battery life. Still, the real interest in this combo lies within the mouse and the hub.
I found the mouse to be more comfortable than the Microsoft one and though it does feel heavier the lag is noticeably reduced. In addition, Logitech has gone button crazy adding up and down buttons above and below the scroll wheel, a quick switch program selector even further back and two programmable thumb buttons. These are all fine, and you will be quite pleased until you discover the embossed Logitech logo to its rear. The problem is that this rough little thing actually rubs at the centre of your palm over time and prolonged use can become quite uncomfortable. If you hold your mouse in a different way to me, you may get away without the pain, but once again, if there ever was an argument to be made for the style over substance approach of some wireless products this logo is it.
That aside, I am left with the best part of the product, the hub. As well as recharging your mouse from time to time, this clever little piece of equipment also synchronised flawlessly with my mobile phone, a Sony Ericsson P900. Of course, a P900 is bred almost half PDA so it connects to my PC anyway through its own software bundle, but that should not take anything away from the Logitechâ€™s functionality. There is even a little program designed to let you type text messages with your keyboard and send them through the phone.
A clever, multifunction hub and solid keyboard do well to offset the high price. Overall, if you are going to take advantage of its PDA and mobile phone capabilities, and can get away without serious injury from using the mouse, the Logitech is well worth a look.