* Prices may differ from that shown
I was very optimistic about my brand new Logitech Cordless Desktop S520 wireless keyboard and mouse set. After years of awkward wires in a small desk space, it seemed like the ideal solution. The price was reasonable at about £20 and this seems to be the lowest you can still purchase it for. Having connected it to the small black receiver device, which can fit into a tiny space and is sleek and stylish, I installed the software. This all went smoothly and my devices were up and running in minutes. By now, I was delighted. This was fairly cheap, though definitely not bargain basement, but it was working.
These are my initial experiences of the initial devices.
It has a beautiful design with glossy black and silver finishes. The lettering is aesthetically pleasing with white and light blue on a black background. Secondly, the keyboard is quite thin and streamlined, which allows your hands to rest comfortably on its surface. You can type easily on it with its keys elevated at a reasonable level and touch typing is fine with no awkward key placements like you can get on some laptop keyboards. This makes it fairly quiet to use. It also has some nice extra features that you are paying for in the brand that are meant to make it more durable. For example, the keys are UV coated and this has meant that they have not faded, even with quite intensive use. It has also been through a testing procedure under liquids which makes it fairly spill resistant, though it picks up crumbs easily like most keyboards. The battery life is also quite long and it lives up to its promise of 15 months, though the need to replace batteries in both keyboard and mouse is frustrating. Finally, there are many keyboard shortcuts, whether it be on all of the F keys which can be customised, or separate key areas for music and zooming. This is an excellent keyboard and one that I still use. Its unique selling point is as a quality wireless device and this is certainly met.
My use of the mouse has been a completely different story to the keyboard and I feel awkward not using it anymore. When I first bought it with all that expectation, I had been using a cabled USB Microsoft mouse, which was ergonomically pleasing. But when I tried to use the Logitech mouse, the incline that your hand is forced on, it was more difficult. You have to tilt your hand downwards at an awkward angle, which makes it uncomfortable to use. Whilst it got better with time as you used it more often, it was still not the same as before. Also, whilst the battery indicator on the keyboard lights up, the mouse indicator came on erratically and eventually not at all. To be fair, the keyboard is not much better as it always seems to be on the same setting and can disappear instantly. Even when it turns red, you can get more life out of it, so it seems a little useless and comes down to when you can be bothered to change the batteries.
The final nail in the coffin of this mouse, however, was when it broke. This may just have been my fault because it was dropped, but only from a desk. Whilst I am sure that this would come under human error, that it is not as durable as most mouses concerned me. Now, even when three sets of batteries have been tried on it, it is pretty much dead and resides in a dust-filled cupboard with other gadgetry consigned to the darkness such as digital photo frames and a writing tablet. The keyboard still works luckily, and is happily partnered with my original faded Microsoft mouse.
This is a very positive part of the Logitech wireless system, as it seems to be fairly reliable. The small black device that picks it up is lightweight and chic in its modern curvature. Its main function of picking up the keyboard signal is done on most occasions and even when it falls beneath a desk and is not visible, it still works. From time to time, you can get bad patches without signal, but if you move the device a little, it quickly picks up again. It is irritating to have a wireless system with a wired digital receiver and three things on your desk rather than two. But overall it works well.
I work from a laptop in my office, but the desk is quite low down and so day after day of hunching over to reach the keys and see the screen properly was starting to get quite wearing. In the end, I got my boss to pay for a stand for my laptop, so the screen is at eye level, and a keyboard and mouse, so I could still type in a comfortable position.
~~Don't dig too deep~~
To put it politely, my boss is very aware of how his money is spent, and so I knew I would have to make a frugal choice! After browsing our stationery catalogue, I happened upon this wireless keyboard and mouse set with a recognisable brand name at a very reasonable price. This was over a year ago, though, so I did have a quick look online to see what the prices are now, and they vary wildly. The cheapest I saw was £14.99 on Amazon UK, which is reasonable for what is essentially a fairly basic piece of kit.
~~Kicking things off~~
Getting started really couldn't be simpler. All you have to do is pop batteries in both the keyboard and the mouse, plug the receiver into a USB socket, and everything should connect up automatically. I found this very intuitive, although if you're not as familiar with technology there is a helpful picture diagram which walks you through it. Plus, if you happen to lose the diagram, you can get another copy on the Logitech website. The same goes for the optional software that you can install - if you lose the CD, you can download it again from the website.
Using the keyboard is really easy. The keys are of a reasonable size, and they're light and easy to depress, without being overly sensitive. The best thing is that the keys are quiet, even when I'm typing quite quickly. This is really important to me as there's nothing worse than being in an office with someone who types really loudly - it's so annoying!
Everything is quite close together so I never feel like I have to really reach out of my way to hit any of the keys, and I've never gone home after a hard day of typing with aching fingers or hands. The QWERTY layout is intuitive, and all other keys are more or less where you'd expect them. I do find that if I've done a lot of typing during the day, and I go home to type something on my own laptop, I can hit the wrong keys sometimes, so there are obviously differences but not within the letters themselves. It tends to be the End, Home and Delete buttons that cause problems. Obviously this is a very minor niggle!
I should also say that after just over a year of relatively heavy use, many of the letters are starting to wear off the keys - obviously it has started with the most common ones because A, E, O, L, N and S have completely disappeared, and D, M and R are starting to fade. At first I tried to draw the letters back on with Tippex, but that faded even more quickly! It doesn't matter to me too much because I touch type for the most part, but it is a bit annoying when my brain occasionally goes blank and I'm just staring at the keyboard trying to find a letter that isn't even there! If you're not a touch typer, and your keyboard will get heavy use, then you should bear this in mind. Overall I don't think this could be classed as a major fault - this is a fairly cheap piece of equipment and I've been using it every working day for quite some time.
The mouse is of the laser type, so there's no ball underneath to get clogged up with hair and dust. It's a nice black and silver design, with two buttons and a click wheel. There's a light which is meant to glow green if the battery is okay and red when it's getting low, but mine has never worked. It would be handy but to be honest we always have batteries in the office and it's easy enough to tell when they run out because things stop working! It's really comfortable to use. The left click and right click functions are the same as with any mouse, and the buttons are easy to press, and most importantly, quiet! The click wheel is quite handy - you can use it to scroll up and down the page in most documents and on webpages. If you hold down the Ctrl button, you can also use it to zoom in and out which is quite handy. I tend to use the click wheel quite a lot, and I really prefer this mouse to the simple touchpad I was using when it was just my laptop.
~~Let's take a shortcut~~
There are a few handy shortcut keys at the bottom of the keyboard. There is one set that's designed to zoom in, zoom out and return to normal, judging by the symbols, but pressing it has zero effect! I've tried it in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Word, Excel and Publisher, but nothing happens! I can't say it bothers me though, as there are plenty of other shortcuts and buttons to do that job.
Another set of buttons turns volume up and down, or mutes it, and a third will skip forward, skip backward and play/pause. This works in Windows Media Player, Spotify and iTunes, as well as on youtube videos. When it comes to other web based videos, music or podcasts, it can be a bit hit and miss so it's just trial and error really. I find this really handy for when I'm in the office by myself listening to music - if the phone rings or someone comes in, I can hit the pause button instantly and no-one need ever know I was having an ABBA sesh all on my lonesome! The only downside to this is that if there are a lot of things in process on the computer, the 'pause' action does just join the queue of things to do, which could lead to an embarrassing situation! Also, oddly, my 'decrease volume' button is labelled with a 'play/pause' symbol. I'm not quite sure why that is as my colleague's is labelled correctly.
There is also the option to install the software that comes with the keyboard, and then you can assign certain functions to each of the keys F1-12 at the top of the screen. Personally I haven't done this as I already had shortcut keys set up on my desktop, and combined with that and the shortcut keys mentioned above, which are already programmed in, I have everything I need. However, there is that option, and the keys can be used to do things such as opening a new word processing document, opening your email, bringing up a calendar or going to your homepage. Personally I don't think these are necessary or very useful, but I appreciate some people might like that option.
~~Keeping in touch~~
As this is a wireless set, it's very important that communication between the mouse/keyboard and the computer itself is smooth and uninterrupted. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case! Both my keyboard and mouse are less than 50cm from the wireless receiver, and the connection regularly becomes jerky or unresponsive, or is lost altogether. I would say that usually I could go for two weeks of heavy use without any problems, but then the connection can be lost two or three times in a day, and I have to press the 'connect' button on the receiver again, if it doesn't reconnect by itself. It's such a shame that it seems to go through really moody phases where it doesn't want to do anything I ask it to! The buttons stick, the mouse becomes slow and unresponsive, and snags in its movement, some keys don't register on the screen - things like that! I can put up with this for a couple of minutes, but sometimes it does it for fifteen minutes or more which is really frustrating if I'm typing something. Although, there is one guaranteed way to make it work, which it to use it in front of someone from IT to show them the problem, at which point it purrs like a kitten and behaves impeccably!
The receiver is relatively attractive, and like the mouse and keyboard it fits in nicely with our office colour scheme of black, chrome and glass. I actually tuck it away under my laptop stand usually in any case, so it's out of sight. It has a decent range, and just to test it out, I've used it from the other side of the office (about 5m away) with no problems, although of course I can barely see the screen from there in any case.
The annoying thing about the receiver is that it's on a cable which is over 3 feet long. One of the main reasons I wanted a wireless get up was so that my desk wouldn't be cluttered with wiring, and this seems to defeat the object a bit. Instead of a nice clean glass desk surface, I have a big unsightly bunch of cable tied up hidden underneath my laptop stand. I would have preferred a much shorter cord, or something more in the style of a USB memory stick.
I have to admit that I like almost everything about this set. The keyboard and mouse are both really easy and comfortable to use, and they look great in our modern office. I like the keyboard shortcuts, and I like that the keyboard and mouse are both smooth and quiet to use. Unfortunately, though, this lacks reliability, which is extremely frustrating. When you're on a roll with writing an email or filling in a spreadsheet, the last thing you want is to have to stop and reconnect everything again. The long cable on the receiver does annoy me as well, as I think you might as well have a wire to your keyboard if you're having a metre long wire for the receiver!
Whilst the connection problem doesn't happen very often, it's enough for me to have to say that I can't recommend this product; I definitely wouldn't buy it again despite its pros. If I were looking for something similar again, I'd spend an extra tenner or so on one of the many Microsoft models around that price range - one of my colleagues has a Microsoft one that was about £30 and has never had a problem. Looks like you get what you pay for with these things!
Just the two stars, unfortunately. I'd love to give it three but it just isn't good enough quality, regardless of the low price.