I'm looking down at my new wireless keyboard and I think that somebody, somewhere on the design team should get a good talking to. It's the second wireless keyboard/mouse combo that I've owned. The previous keyboard had very sticky keys, which if you're a person who types like a mad dog for a living, can be highly irritating, introducing unnecessary typos and reducing speed. I've been trying to justify buying a new set for a while and when my mouse started malfunctioning a couple of weeks back, I had my excuse. (OK, I might have dropped it a couple of times. On concrete. From the roof of the house.)
I admit there are things I like about the new keyboard. First and foremost, it has a lovely touch, letting my fingers fly. It's Bluetooth enabled, so I don't have to contend with the little wireless transmitter taking up space on my desk and adding more cables. The problem is that someone on the design team suffered from attention deficit disorder, or maybe OS envy, leading them to add a number of completely unnecessary features to both keyboard and mouse while leaving out things that could be genuinely useful.
The keyboard sports a one-inch by three-inch LCD display. Why a keyboard needs more than a few status lights, I'm not clear, given that its role is to enable computer and monitor. Nonetheless, it has one. ("I know, let's add a display. More functionality!") The primary purpose appears to be to show the time -- just in case I want to interrupt my work and look down from my computer screen, which already displays the time in the corner. It also tells me how many new emails I have in my Inbox -- which, go figure, my email application does as well (the keyboard also chirps when a new message arrives, in annoying counterpoint to the tone the mail application itself makes). The keyboard additionally sports a "calculator" button, in case I don't want to use my OS calculator, my smartphone calculator, my spreadsheet, or my cheapo standalone solar model. Or pencil and paper or my fingers -- it can only perform arithmetic.
The mouse features a deep dip where the thumb goes, which makes it awkward to hold. In the center of the dip lies a toggle switch that when pushed converts the computer display into a three-dimensional side view of all of the windows that you have open. You can use the toggle to cycle through them, with the rearward window drifting off into blackness like the crawl at the start of "Star Wars." I admit, it looks very cool, but the text isn't all that easy to read except on the first screen and I already get the same functionality through my OS. ("I know, let's add graphic file sorting capabilities. More, um, well, it'll look really neat.") More importantly, with the deep depression for the thumb, I continually find myself accidentally putting the display into "Star Wars" mode. The shape of the old mouse was more comfortable and the batteries lasted for six months at a crack versus a week.