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Microsoft's Designer Bluetooth Desktop, a lowly entry in the peripheral market

A few weeks back, Microsoft announced its new Designer Bluetooth Desktop that consists of a wireless keyboard and mouse. The combo will set you back $99.95 and can be purchased from the Microsoft Store here.

I have been using the devices for the better part of a week and must say that they are... well, a keyboard and mouse. There is nothing overly glamorous about these devices, they simply blend into the background and function as you would expect.

The keyboard features all the basic items any desktop user will need to complete their tasks including a dedicated number pad, home, end, page up/down, arrow keys and all the standard F1-12 keys too. At the top of the keyboard are the typical media shortcut keys and above the number pad are shortcut keys for search, share, settings and devices.

It's worth pointing out that the escape, delete, return and backspace buttons are all oversized, making them easier to reach.

The keys themselves are soft to the touch and are not quite as 'snappy' as I typically like in a keyboard but everyone is different and if you like a softer key-press style, this may suit your needs. As far as grip though, they are definitely a bit slick and could use a bit more texture to keep your fingers firmly on the keys.

The mouse has a very low profile, almost too low for my liking, but does match well with the keyboard. The lack of a proper 'arch' makes the ergonomics of the mouse a bit uncomfortable to use, but the scroll wheel does feel precise and confident.

The mouse as a standalone device will set you back $29.99 and for the price, the quality is not up to the usual Microsoft standard. It's not a surprise that it's plastic but it feels chintzy in your hand. The low profile does not help either and for me, it is not comfortable for prolonged use.

If you have smaller hands, the mouse may work for you, but for me, it's not a great solution for the desktop (Microsoft's own Sculpt Mouse is better), and for travel I much prefer the Arc Touch mouse.

The mouse uses Microsoft's BlueTrack technology, which allows it to be used on almost any surface, and both the mouse and keyboard pair to your PC using Bluetooth.

Both the keyboard and mouse, despite being called 'Designer', are really just minimalist in style, and it's simply a fancy name for what others will likely call a 'black keyboard and mouse'. There really is not a lot that makes these devices stand out from the pack.

But one thing that I do like about both the mouse and keyboard is that the battery doors are held in place with magnets, similar to Microsoft's Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse. This makes it easy to remove the doors to change the battery and the covers easily slide back into place with confidence.

In use, both devices are fine for what they are designed to do, though neither gets the job done with any exceptional qualities. In short, they work as advertised and at $100, are not the most expensive set of peripherals on the market - but at the same time, they are not the best either.

Microsoft Designer Desktop
Clean design Oversized buttons Magnetic battery door
Slippery keys Mouse ergonomics "Designer"
Spring 2015


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