I recently got my act together to improve the ergonomics of my computer setup to eliminate that nagging neck pain. I thought I would share my experience to help others who are looking for a similar solution. I will explain the components of my setup and also offer a review of two brands of wireless keyboard and mouse systems, Microsoft and Logitech.
Expansion Base Setup
I raised up my HP laptop on my desk with a Rolodex Laptop Stand. This is a nice simple unit that I can recommend. It costs approximately $23 at Office Depot. The wireless keyboard and mouse setup that I am using and will recommend to you cost $29 after rebates at Office Depot. (This rebate deal is good until June 30th 2007.) So for $55 I was able to get just about the same functionality as the HP xb3000 Notebook Expansion Base which costs $250. Not bad!
Keyboard and Mouse
I tried both the Microsoft Optical Desktop 3000 and the Logitech Easy Call Desktop products. Although the Microsoft had a couple of nice features, the winner by a landslide was the Logitech Easy Call Desktop solution.
Likes: Here’s what I liked about this product. The keyboard keys were very quiet. And the keyboard is spill-resistant. But after that there were many things I didn’t like.
Dislikes: The keyboard has the ergonomic feature, Curved Comfort Design with wider keys at the “G” and “H” keys area. I found this awkward when typing. It also made the overall keyboard wider and thus more difficult to reach over to the up/down arrows and the number keypad.
The system interfered with myscreen saverr and the only way to solve this problem was to disconnect the base from the USB drive. Not difficult to do, but a nuisance all the same. I searched on the web on this seems to be a common problem for users.
The mouse design is bulky and not as sleek as the Logitech mouse. Clicking on the mouse often didn’t work until clicking it several times. This is not acceptable. The left to right scroll controller never worked.
Cost: $40 after $20 mail-in rebate which is good until March 31, 2007 at Office Depot.
Here is the description of this product from the Office Depot site:
- Ergonomic wireless keyboard and wireless optical mouse in 1 convenient package.
- Comfort Curve design lets your hands rest naturally on the keyboard.
- Keyboard is spill-resistant â€” enjoy a cup of coffee while you work!
- Enhanced 1-touch function keys, media keys and hot keys make performing everyday, frequent functions fast and easy. Access Web sites and files with the push of a button.
- High-definition optical mouse delivers smooth, precise tracking.
- Handy tilt wheel lets you scroll from side to side as well as up and down for versatile navigation.
- Point-and-click Magnifier button on mouse lets you enlarge, view and edit details easily.
- Mouse battery life is typically 6 months or more. Requires 4 AA alkaline batteries (included).
- For use with Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS X 10.2 and later.
- Backed by the manufacturer’s 3-year limited warranty.
When I saw the price after rebates on this product I thought I would try it even though I don’t use Internet calling yet. I knew I was dissatisfied with the Microsoft keyboard and mouse, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to try this. I’m glad I did!
Likes: I really liked this product right away. The keyboard is compact for all the features it contains, including Internet phone, music, email, search, and 12 programmable function keys which were very easy to program. Typing is very comfortable and the keys never stick or miss like my laptop keys do. Unlike the Microsoft system, this system did not interfere with any programs on my laptop, such as the screen saver.
The mouse is wonderful! For me function is most important in my computer tools, but this mouse also has great form. It is sculpted beautifully to fit in your right hand very nicely. Every click registers. Customizing the buttons and speeds is very easy with the Logitech control panel. Lastly this mouse has tons of functionality. All the basics, plus scroll wheel for both up/down and left/right navigation. It has zoom buttons. And it also has forward and back keys that you can use when web surfing in your favorite browser. You would think that all this functionality would make it cumbersome, but that’s not the case at all. Elegant design and super-charged functionality.
The Internet phone service works with most Internet phone service providers like Yahoo and Skype. I have not used this feature yet so I can’t comment on it. I will add to this post when I have done so. My guess though is that it probably works great.
Dislikes: The keys are louder than the Microsoft keyboard, but not so loud that it is bothersome. Some of the controls are on the edges of the keyboard so if you pick up the keyboard you may accidentally launch your music or the phone. I’m not sure if the keyboard is spill-resistant. It doesn’t say, so I guess it’s not. But that’s not a very important feature for me as I’ve learned over the years to try to avoid spilling liquids into my keyboard!
Cost: $30 after rebates at Office Depot.
Here is the description from the Office Depot site:
- Enjoy Internet (VoIP) calling from your desk. Speakerphone and call headset make it simple to connect hands-free with friends or colleagues.
- Speakerphone has 1-touch controls for easy call management and includes RightSoundâ„¢ technology that cancels echoes and room noise for clearer calls.
- High-quality stereo headset ensures call privacy. Plugs into audio jack on speakerphone.
- High-performance cordless laser mouse provides precise tracking and control. Gently contoured sides and soft rubber grips for support and comfort.
- Convenient wireless keyboard with straight layout and hot keys.
- Long battery life: up to 15 months for keyboard, up to 6 months for mouse. Mouse also has on/off switch to extend battery life further.
- For Windows XP/Vista only. Requires an available USB port and Pentium III 1GHz processor or faster. Broadband Internet access recommended for best sound quality. Internet phone (VoIP) service sold separately.
- Backed by the manufacturer’s 5-year limited warranty.
I recommend the Logitech Easy Call Desktop wireless keyboard and mouse system. For $30 (after rebates) you get fully functional keyboard, a super-charged elegant mouse, and internet calling functionality. This is much better than the $40 (after rebates) Microsoft keyboard and mouse which don’t work well and don’t come with online phone features.
For an inexpensive way to elevate your laptop for more ergonomic usage, I also recommend the Rolodex Laptop Stand. It is sturdy mesh metal so your laptop won’t overheat and you can choose from multiple heights.
Please leave a comment to let me know if this review was helpful and if you have any thoughts to share.