Microsoft's hardware team has developed and launched a new range of premium desktop solutions in the past months and we've gotten our hands on one of their flagship peripherals - the Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 - a much ballyhooed, luxurious keyboard and mouse solution for those who'd like to control their PC and media in style.
One of the first things that you'd notice about Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 is its ultra thin and compact design. With its thin frame and silver matte finish, the keyboard is a very attractive piece of hardware oozing with class while still maintaining a notion of being lightweight and portable. The keyboard itself has a slight V-shaped curve to it that is designed for a comfort fitting to suit the contours of the hands. Think of it like the ergonomic 'natural keyboards' of old, except that it is totally flat. The keys have a soft feel to them, which provides just enough tactile feedback during use for our liking, though some users may want something more 'clicky'.
The most wow-worthy feature is of course its intelligent backlighting. Not only does the keyboard react to ambient light - going brighter in the dark and dimmer in the light - but it also has a proximity sensor embedded on the front edge of the keyboard, allowing it to recognize movement and instinctively switch off the backlight when there is no user.
So far, Microsoft has added a number of new nifty features to keyboard. Besides the usual bevy of hot keys to various Windows features, there is a Live Call button, which can be used to activate video calls on Windows Live Messenger, a Gadgets button, and it even boosts a navigation pad with an integrated cursor to control your media. At the top row of the keyboard, touch sensitive Function buttons replace mechanical keys. Just give them a little bridge to activate.
The Windows Start key is now located below the space bar, right smack in the middle of the keyboard. This is a development we actually like since the only viable access is with one's thumb, and less prone to accidental pressing. What's missing however, is a proper number pad, which might be a cause of concern for many.
The mouse that comes with the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 shares the same design, but is a tad too big for our tastes. Still, it is a decent 5-button mouse with 4-way scrolling, and a nifty way to visually choose open windows with a click. It comes with proprietary laser technology with up to 1000dpi sensitivity. What we think is definitely worth a mention is the Intelligent Power System of the mouse. The mouse was developed to automatically sync the battery life with the tasks that it is doing in order to enhance battery performance.
On both devices, there is a battery status indicator to warn of low battery life and when it is going to run out. On average, Microsoft estimates that you'll only need to charge about once a week, and when it comes to charging, the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 features an integrated charging station, which acts as a Bluetooth dongle, charging dock for both keyboard and mouse, plus a four-port USB hub. While the keyboard itself is really thin and compact, the full set does takes up quite a bit of space when connected for charging.
Quoted from Microsoft to be groundbreaking, this desktop set is definitely a symbol of status, style and exclusivity. Not for the average and casual consumer who is contented with the most basic settings, but for those who yearn to be unique. As much as we love the Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 however, its US$300 (S$499) starting price is still a little hard to swallow for a mere input device.