I approached the Genius combo with some trepidation. Genius is traditionally known for making what the industry would term as affordable products, and at a fraction under Â£40 that is certainly true here. What I was not prepared for however, was just how good this package from Genius is.
Compared to the other combos, the box from the Genius is about half the size, nothing was missingâ€™ there was just no wasted space. It was the kind of simple practicality that was to become synonymous with the whole product.
First off, the Genius bundle works with everything from Windows 98 up and is compatible with Macs running OS 8.6 or higher. Second, I found it to be a good looking combo in its own right. True, Genius has taken a number of design queues from Logitech, but looking similar for nearly one third of the price is no bad thing. A French friend of mine even suggested it was the best looking combo in the group. I wouldnâ€™t go that far, but the French are not ignorant when it comes to style and it shows how well Genius has done to pick up glances on a budget.
From here on things get even better. The installation was a breeze which involved no more than plugging in a single USB port, switching the computer on and installing a 1MB piece of software. Everything was recognised instantly and I pushed the mouse around without any noticeable lag. The Genius set also doesnâ€™t suffer from the stop/start usage problems that haunt the Microsoft model.
The software itself is also surprisingly good. It allowed the same levels of manipulation as any of the other more expensive models and the provided Genius software allows manipulation of Explorer, Word, Excel, Outlook Express and Media Player from a single thumb button.
I have no complaints with the keyboard either. Mirrored so closely on the Logitech model it has the same comfortable typing angle and the keys feel and sound like the Microsoft keyboard. The action may be slightly stiffer, but not negatively so. The Genius keyboard is also not left behind when it comes to functionality, as itâ€™s equipped with 21 multimedia keys which automatically detect and set themselves up with your most frequently used email client, media player and web browser. There are also separate dedicated keys for starting Word, Excel and the Calculator, opening My Computer and a scroll wheel for cycling through programs.
But perhaps the gem of the package is the transceiver which doubles as a conventional AA battery charger, capable of taking two batteries at a time. Unlike the Logitech charging hub, it doesnâ€™t need to be connected to a wall socket for power. And since the whole package runs off AA batteries it will charge more than just the mouse. Genius also stood out from the pack by supplying six rechargeable batteries, even though the mouse and keyboard require just two batteries each, which means you will always have a spare set on hand.
If I have to find a fault, the palm rest tends to detach if you lift up the keyboard, but at this price it feels like nitpicking.
This is a simply outstanding package, but not just because of the price. The keyboard and mouse perform extremely well in their own right and the installation was the easiest in the group. It may not have the synchronisation features of the more expensive Logitech and Microsoft models, but instead it sticks to its primary functions and does them very, very well.