The Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000 is a wire-free keyboard and mouse set designed with user comfort in mind.
The Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000 keyboard and mouse both look smart and have a reassuring level of build quality. Both components are surprisingly heavy, so don't buy these if you need something portable. But the weight gives them a solidity (and, in the case of the keyboard, good stability) that we appreciated.
They're decked out in black with silver detailing. There's a unifying stylistic theme: the lower or nearer half of each component - the palm rest on the keyboard and the areas for your palm, thumb and fourth and fifth fingers on the mouse - are matt and faintly textured. The upper half of the keyboard and the main button area of the mouse are glossy with a high shine; this probably won't last long but looks good for now.
Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000: Mouse
Let's start with the mouse. It's a relatively tall (39mm high) and bulky model. Our usual mouse of choice is a portable Logitech model that sits well below the fingers and gives them room to flex; with the Microsoft model the two main fingers pretty much rest along the top of the buttons. It's actually less tiring for the fingers, but if you're used to a flatter design, it may feel weird. (And those with small hands may find it too big for comfort; one female colleague gave it a firm thumbs-down.)
The mouse is symmetrical, which is never something we're keen on - the human hand isn't symmetrical, and this just seems like an economising tactic that allows the manufacturer to sell the same design to lefties. But it didn't create any real problems, other than causing the fourth finger to sometimes hit the right-most button by mistake.
We loved the smoothness of the Microsoft Wireless Mouse 5000's base. It glides around very nicely on a desk, making little noise and few of those fingernail-down-a-blackboard scratches you get with cheaper peripherals. You have good control over the cursor, and Microsoft's BlueTrack laser technology is as accurate as ever. You can even use your mouse on the carpet, if that's your bag.
We did notice that the scrollwheel sometimes seemed a little overkeen, and you may wish to fine-tune scrolling settings by application, using the bundled IntelliPoint driver software.
Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000: Keyboard
The keyboard is large and comfortable to use. There are lots of nice touches; Microsoft has added a helpful star symbol to the Ctrl keys, for example, then written little starred labels on the front of keys with a Ctrl function. It's odd that this isn't seen on other keyboards, and is a genuinely helpful piece of design.
There are large, shiny keys along the top providing instant access to email, media control and other functions. Rather than separate keys, these have been partially cut out of the main chassis, which looks a bit odd, but they're perfectly serviceable in use.
Typing on the Desktop 5000 is a pleasure. The keys are substantial, and have a gentle, quite soft action with relatively muffled noise. They're well spaced too.
The palm rest may divide opinion. Having a semi-redundant area below the keys has rather fallen out of favour in recent years - a quick straw poll of our office found that fewer than one in 10 had any kind of rest on their keyboard. But some swear by the improved comfort provided by a proper padded wrist rest.
This isn't that. It isn't padded, for one thing, and is only large enough to support the palms while typing. But we did find it quite comfortable, and the crisscross texture is pleasing to the hand.
There are some little rubber pads you can add to the back feet (or the front feet, if you so wish), and we'd highly recommend that you do so: the curvature of the key deck makes far more sense with the keyboard raised up at a slight angle, and is much more comfortable to use in this way.
One slight niggle: if there is a Caps Lock light, we couldn't find it.
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