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Maximum PC Staff Oct 14, 2011

Microsoft Wireless Desktop 2000

At A Glance

CAKE

Comfortable keyboard; only game in town for encryption.

PIE

Plain-Jane mouse is feature poor and unergonomic.

A little encryption goes a long way

If you're like most of us, it's unlikely that hackers have much interest in intercepting what you're typing. Still, with schematics and software to build keyboard sniffers readily available, it's nice to know you're protected from ne'er-do-wells, and Microsoft aims to give you that sense of security with its Wireless Desktop 2000. While it won't keep your cubicle mate from looking over your shoulder, it does use 128-bit AES encryption to keep your keystrokes a secret and your paranoia at bay.

Foremost, the Wireless Desktop 2000 is a keyboard, and to this end, it features soft, chiclet-style keys set in a glossy black frame. It connects to your computer wirelessly with a stowaway USB dongle and has a full array of media keys for skipping through your music playlist, as well as shortcut keys for quick access to the first five apps pinned to your Favorites in Windows 7. The keyboard also has separate (but small) function keys and a texture wrist rest that's comfy enough for extended hours of typing. Microsoft found room on the board for a battery indicator light, but not for indicators associated with the Cap- and Num-Lock keys—you'll have to install the bundled IntelliType Pro software to get on-screen notifications about that sort of thing. It's a very simple keyboard made for an office environment—folks in the market for flashy lights or an ergonomic curve should look elsewhere.


With the Wireless Desktop 2000, Microsoft bring a touch of class to an office-bound keyboard.

The keyboard's headline security feature is 128-bit AES encryption, which is the minimum strength of encryption (highest is 256 bits). We were curious as to whether this encryption feature includes some sort of custom drivers to circumvent physical or software-based keyloggers, so we set up a simple experiment: We wrote some very incriminating emails with a KeeLog USB keylogger residing between the PC and the keyboard's wireless dongle. The keylogger managed to trace our every stroke, which confirmed our suspicions that the only protection this keyboard affords is between the dongle and the keyboard itself, so no outside sources can access what you're typing via a wireless sniffer. This is good if you're suspicious of your cubicle neighbors, but not so if there's something (or someone—eyebrow raise) logging your keystrokes internally.

The other half of the Wireless Desktop 2000 is a bare-bones optical mouse. The mouse isn't bad for basic office use, but we'd like to see Back and Forward side buttons on the mouse for Internet browsing. Also, the scroll wheel tends to get a little sticky after usage.

Neither the mouse nor the keyboard are especially well suited for gaming, but, of course, that's not what the Wireless Desktop 2000 is marketed for. For cubicle dwellers, the Wireless Desktop 2000 keyboard is a stylish, secure keyboard with plenty of productivity-enhancing hotkeys. One tip to you: If you want the keyboard, be prepared to splurge on a better mouse.

$40, www.microsoft.com

THE VERDICT

Microsoft Wireless Desktop 2000

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