Product Type: Microsoft keyboards
Newest Review: ... a USB socket. That does mean that you can't hot-swap it while the computer is turned on, but why would you want to do that anyway? On the p... more
A simple type
Microsoft Wired Keyboard 500
Member Name: davidbuttery
Microsoft Wired Keyboard 500
Advantages: Simple, reliable, cheap
Disadvantages: Shallow key travel may put off some, no USB option
I am typing out this very review on a Microsoft Wired 500 keyboard, which cost me a mere tenner from Argos some months ago, and is now available from Amazon for an even merer £7.99; there's also a white version, but that's a couple of pounds more expensive! My keyboard has been worked hard, and is still going strong. When it finally dies, if the Wired 500 is still available then it may even be on my shortlist of replacement keyboards: contemplating replacing like with like is usually a good sign! Microsoft peripherals are generally of solid quality, and (considering its budget status) that is true here.
As its name implies, the Wired 500 is an old-fashioned corded model - not at all flashy, but you never need to worry about batteries! In fact, it's even more old-fashioned than that, as it uses the traditional PS/2 interface rather than plugging into a USB socket. That does mean that you can't hot-swap it while the computer is turned on, but why would you want to do that anyway? On the plus side, unlike a USB keyboard it is recognised immediately at power-up, so can be used for editing BIOS and Setup screens. Do note, though, that no PS/2-to-USB adapter is provided in the box, so as it's sold the keyboard will be useless for computers (such as many newer laptops) which have only USB ports.
The Wired 500 keyboard is quite compact, without the extended wrist rests and swoopy bits of coloured plastic that even slightly more expensive keyboards tend to boast these days. That makes it useful for anyone whose desk either has a restricted amount of space or (like mine) is usually too untidy to fit anything larger in! The keys are in the traditional layout, with no split-keyboard ergonomic tricks; as I don't touch-type, it doesn't bother me, but those who type professionally may prefer something a bit more obviously "designed".
The keys are labelled in light grey on black, and the labels seem fairly good quality: one or two are just starting to wear very slightly after well over a year of constant use. The function keys are half-size, which is mildly irritating if you use them a lot, and along the top are a few "shortcut keys" which do things like changing volume and opening the Windows Calculator. To be honest, I almost never bother to use them. The small feet at the back to give a slope to the keyboard do feel rather flimsy, though, and aren't that deep, so if you prefer to type on a strongly sloping keyboard then you're out of luck.
Of course, the most important question is whether this is a comfortable keyboard to type on. This really depends on whether you can get used to the lack of much travel in the keys; at first it can feel almost like typing on a slightly deeper and more spacious laptop keyboard, and if you're the sort who bangs down hard then you're going to get sore fingertips pretty quickly. It took me a couple of days to get used to this feel, but I'm now perfectly happy with it and find it quite acceptable. It's not the quietest keyboard around, but there isn't the deafening clatter you often hear from some of the ultra-cheapo supermarket own-brand models.
Since it does have a few bad points, I wouldn't recommend the Wired 500 to anyone who types all day, every day for a living: if that sounds like you, then spending a bit more will certainly pay dividends and your wrists will thank you for it. On the other hand, for those of us who are lighter users and don't want gimmicks or extras we'll never use, this is a few pounds well spent, and worth the small premium over a real bargain-basement keyboard.
(No idea how I'm supposed to rate "Speed" for a keyboard, so have chosen 3/5 pretty much by default!)
Summary: A solid, simple keyboard for light-to-moderate use
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