Broken by Design: Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 Keyboard/Mouse

Technically, this should be a product review. And, yes, the Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 Keyboard/Mouse is definitely a product, although exactly what purpose it's intended for I don't know. It's definitely not usable in most of the contexts in which you'd want to use a wireless keyboard and mouse. However, let me talk about the actual product for a moment.

As a desktop keyboard and mouse (well, I guess that's in the name of the product) the Microsoft branded input devices might be acceptable. The keyboard is handsome and has a nice feel to it. It also has excellent range - unlike the other half of the equation: the mouse. Again, simply as an input device, the mouse is excellent. It looks good, and the accuracy is decent. But get more than about 2 feet from the receiver, and the cursor motion starts to get erratic. Two feet! The manual claims 1.8 meters, or 6 feet, but that's wildly optimistic, in fact, downright false. The keyboard manages this easily, but the mouse? Not a chance. I'm not even sure it would work well in a desktop situation. You basically have to have the receiver on top of your desk... next to the mouse.

I did attempt to hack the receiver to get more range, with limited success. There are three screws under some adhesive-backed rubber pads that hold the receiver together, and it comes apart easily. The antenna is simply a trace on the circuit board. It runs underneath the white sticker in the image above. I connected a long, very thin wire to the antenna trace, and experienced a substantial improvement in range. Almost enough (but not enough) to allow me to use the mouse from, say, the couch when in front of the entertainment center.

Even with this hackery, the product still fails to meet it's stated range. I put the receiver back together, and this particular product is going back to where it came from. Sorry, Microsoft. Wireless means you shouldn't need wires.

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