Home Theater PC – Mouse & Keyboard
While the actual building of my Home Theater PC has been put off for the near term, the fact that my Dell XPS monstrosity is still sitting next to my home theater cabinet is proof of its usefulness to the entire family.
For instance, my parents are in town for a visit and last night we watched a Power Point presentation made for my uncle’s 70th birthday party. It had photos of my great-great-grandparents and of my father when he was a kid. These are photos I’ve never seen before and we were all able to sit around the big screen and listen to the story of when my father and his brother helped paint their dad’s ’57 Plymoth… with some gray paint that was laying around and some sticks (because “dad” wasn’t stupid enough to leave brushes laying around). We even swapped out to Google some of the things we saw in the photos, and also took screen shots of it all to make the photos back into JPG’s and burn them to a CD so my parents could look at them on their Mac.
Quite useful. (oh, and TrackMania United rocks on the big screen)
But, the biggest pain is the mouse and keyboard being tethered to the thing. I have a great mouse and OK keyboard, but I’ve just got to go wireless, and I want to do it now even before I build the new home theater PC. I found a few I’m considering, and here they are:
- Slim keyboard, navigation pad, battery status indicator, “Windows” buttons (like Start, Media Center, Favorites, Gadgets, etc)
- Microsoft Wireless 8000 series mouse which is rechargeable, 4-way scrolling, Bluetooth, laser @ 100 dpi, battery indicator, Magnifier, 5 buttons (two are thumb, both on left). The mouse itself goes for $90 MSRP.
The 8000 also has:
- Rechargeable keyboard, backlit keys, 4 port USB hub in the charging station.
Logitech has two series that could work, their cordless MX series and the diNovo series. The Cordless MX 5000 Laser ($150 MSRP) and the Cordless MX 5500 Revolution ($170 MSRP) are really both desktop setups, but the keyboard itself is only 2″ x 1.5″ larger than the sleek Microsoft Entertainment 7000. I hate the Logitech website… I cannot tell a difference between these two systems. I’ve gathered that they both have:
- Rechargable 800 dpi mouse, an LCD screen on the keyboard, wireless via Bluetooth.
So I called Logitech sales. The only difference they can tell me is that the Revolution’s mouse is ambidexious and the scroll wheel has a feature to quickly scroll through large documents. There are other differences in the keyboard layout, but they can’t describe the details. I asked about back lighting they tell me there is no backlighting on any of their keyboards. One last difference they pointed out is that the MX 5000’s Bluetooth is a hub, so that other Bluetooth devices can connect to it, like your cell phone, or perhaps a headset. Hmmm…..
It is the diNovo Media Desktop Laser ($200 MSRP) that is truly geared toward the home theater with the detachable keypad for navigation, but I’d rather have the Harmony One as a remote so I would probably never use it. It comes with the same mouse as the MX 5000 Laser (which is an MX 1000). The keyboard is slimmer and very flat.
None of the Logitech’s are rechargable keyboards, or are back lit, so none compete with the MS 8000.
The Phantom is the keyboard, or lapboard ($130 MSRP), that I have been wanting forever, but legal battles apparently continue to carry on and you still can’t buy it.
It is the only board with an innovative design for couch gaming where the mouse pad is undernearth and the keyboard can be tilted away at an angle.
Surprisingly, a laser mouse does work directly on my couch, but it would be nice if I didn’t need the seat to my right empty.
Summary: The primary things I’m looking for are: 1) reliable wireless, 2) a slim, sleek, and comfortable design, and 3) a decent mouse. (by decent I mean, programmable, scroll wheel, thumb buttons and a fairly high resolution)
While the Phantom lapboard concept is great, I fear that time is against them. if they haven’t upgraded the technology over the years of legal battles (bluetooth, thumb buttons on mouse, higher resolution, etc), this just won’t cut it.
The ability to recharge the keyboard is a non-issue for me. Our family already has enough battery powered devices that we have invested in recharageble batteries. (The Wii remotes started it all) So, really, all I’d be getting for the extra $150 on the MS 8000 would be backlit keys and some convenience. No way is that worth it, so that’s out.
Reviews online say that both the Microsoft Entertainment and the Logitech MX series are very good. I don’t know what I would use the LCD screen on the Logitech keyboard for other than the time, but that is not important. The price and bulkiness of these Logitech’s are a turn off. The diNovo is also much too expensive for what you get.
I learned that the MS 8000 mouse scroll wheel is not “clicky” which is a negative for me, but I might be able to get used to it. Also, the MS keyboard is ergonomically designed. I HATE the split keybaords, but this subtle U-shape may actually be on target, especially since I notice myself turning my current keyboard sideways because my left hand begins to hurt.
I would like to see these in person to get a feel for them, but right now I’m leaning towards the Microsoft 7000, $116 at NewEgg.
On another note: Something else that would be a total luxury would be a wireless headset and mic, like the Logitech ClearChat PC Wireless ($100 MSRP). But, before that, a gift the whole family would LOVE is that universal remote Harmony One ($250 MSRP). When’s Father’s Day…?