Holiday gift ideas: Keyboards and mice

Keyboards and mice do make for excellent holiday gifts.

By , Network World |  Hardware, gift ideas, keyboard

Mice and keyboards have been around as long as computers, but that doesn't mean you can't bring innovations and new features to these common peripherals. From Bluetooth to specialized gaming peripherals, here are some favorites in the mice and keyboard market this year:

Microsoft Mobile Keyboard 6000

The Microsoft Bluetooth slim keyboard has proven very popular among my co-workers. It's attractive thin profile and quiet operation make it a great option for anyone working in an office, or simply looking to move away from their desk at home. The curved keyboard (or in Microsoft speak, "comfort curve"), while slightly awkward at first, has really grown on me in the weeks I've spent using this keyboard. The 6000 has definitely become my typing instrument of choice at work.

Microsoft advertises the "portable" number pad as an added feature. I'm honestly split on it – in some respects, it is nice to have the detachable number pad – especially if you travel a lot and want something to bring with your laptop. It's also smart because it draws less power from the main keyboard. However, it can be awkward to work with at first. I use the number pad frequently, and not having it attached to the main keyboard took some getting used to. Also, as an independent device, it will deactivate itself when it hasn't been used for a while. This can be a little frustrating when you go to use it and find the numbers aren't showing up on screen, or started showing up at some random point during data entry. With time, I got used to the separate number pad … and I've reached the point I'm OK with it being separate from the normal keyboard. The benefits, in this case, do indeed outweigh the associated drawbacks. And that concludes my only concern with this keyboard (other than price).

The keyboard uses AAA batteries (included), two for the main keyboard and one for the the number pad. It's thin, it's attractive, and people keep asking about it. It's a winner, so far as I'm concerned. The real drawback here is price – I think $90 is outrageous for a keyboard – but if you can get over that (or wait for it to drop in a few months), then you won't regret picking this up. The keyboard does travel well, and fits easily into my travel bag. There is a little "off" switch on both the keyboard and the number pad, so you can ensure neither is wasting precious battery life getting mashed around in your bag while on the go.

I'd recommend this for anyone looking for a comfortable, quiet alternative to a standard desktop keyboard. Just remember: it's a Bluetooth keyboard, so if your computer doesn't natively support Bluetooth, you'll have to pick up a USB dongle to use it.

Cool Yule Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: $89.95 for the keyboard; $44.95 for the numeric pad
Product Web site.
Reviewed by Daniel Hunt

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