Logitech Cordless Desktop S520 Review

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Most people buy new keyboards at one of three times: when they buy a new computer, when they spill a drink on their old one, or when they just can’t take the tangled rat’s nest of cables behind their desk one. second. longer.  Fortunately for the frazzled consumer, there are companies there to fill the gap, and Logitech is one of the best known.  Recognized for their quality computer peripherals, Logitech offers products that span the market, from ten-dollar keyboards up to hundred-dollar mice.  The Cordless Desktop S520 falls somewhere in the middle of that range.  At $60, though, is wireless freedom really worth the price?

Features:

The Cordless Desktop G520 comes with the following specifications and/or components:

  • Cordless S520 keyboard
  • Cordless LX5 laser mouse
  • 2.4GHz wireless transceiver
  • Multimedia, volume and zoom keyboard keys
  • Estimated 15-month keyboard battery life
  • Estimated 8-month mouse battery life

Keyboard:

The S520 keyboard included with the cordless desktop set has more in common with most laptop keyboards than it does a traditional desktop keyboard.  The keys are flat, low-profile, and offer zero degrees of tilt.  The keyboard itself is very thin at less than half an inch.  Being so thin, the keys don’t have a lot of travel, but typing is still a pleasurable experience.

The keyboard offers a full complement of function keys, which is a bonus in a keyboard that takes up so little room.  Each function key is overlaid with an alternate keybinding in blue, triggered by pressing a special Fn key, like what’s found on most laptops.  These alternate keys allow you to launch common applications like Word or Excel or your web browser’s home page, mail, search, settings, etc.  Four more are programmable via Logitech’s SetPoint software.  The bottom front of the laptop is completely taken up with the silver plastic wristrest.  The curvature makes the rest more comfortable to use than most, but it would have been nice to see a different finish or coating on top.  On the bottom, there are holes in the casing to allow for drainage in the unfortunate event that something is spilled on your keyboard.  Keep in mind, however, that Logitech only rates the keyboard as being able to withstand a few milliliters of fluid spillage, drainage holes or no.

Transceiver:

In an attempt to save battery life, the designers kept all lights off of the keyboard except for one slightly below the arrow keys which warns when the batteries are getting low (thus remaining quiescent the majority of the time).  Instead, the status lights are present on the USB wireless transceiver that plus into the back or side of your computer.

The base unit is a simple fold of plastic, with status LEDs for when Caps Lock and NumLock are activated.  It also has a connect button on top to re-engage the wireless keyboard and mouse.  While I understand the need to maintain battery life, it seems that Logitech could have done a better job with the transceiver.  Instead of having a small USB dongle that plugs directly into a port, you have to contend with this piece of technology, with a very long cord and status lights that are difficult to read unless you’re at exactly the right angle to see them.

Mouse:

The included mouse is basic but functional.  It has three buttons (left, middle, right) as wee as a scroll wheel.  There are no side buttons on this mouse which, considering today’s mice, can take take some getting used to.  Fortunately, the mouse was designed to be symmetrical, meaning both left- and right-handed people can use it.

Just like the keyboard, the mouse uses two AA batteries as its power source.  Given the amount of data capture and light that the mouse has to emit, however, it’s battery life is rated as half that of the keyboard.  Keep in mind that these are manufacturer’s estimates, as we’ve obviously not been able to test the keyboard for fifteen months.  Cleverly, the top half of the mouse pops off to reveal the batteries hidden beneath.  This lets the mouse remain compact.

The bottom of the mouse, like the bottom of the keyboard, is spartan, with an on/off button, connect button, battery release lever, and optical sensor.  The on/off button is a nice feature that should be on more mice; this way the optical sensor doesn’t blink constantly (and thus run down the battery) when the mouse is sitting on the desk or getting tossed around in a backpack.

Conclusion:

Overall, the Logitech Cordless Desktop S520 is a solid purchase in a middle-of-the-road sort of way.  The keyboard is well designed, sturdy, offers a modicum of spill protection and is easy to type with.  The mouse is plain, and only offers the basic set of features and functionality.  Even the range of the desktop set was a bit of a surprise, as I found consistent wireless performance from the mouse about ten feet away (the mouse did have line of sight with the wireless transceiver).  The set is comfortable to use and sturdy, which are the most important features of any keyboard and mouse.  At only $59.99, the Cordless Desktop S520 is a great buy for anyone looking to unclutter their lives a little bit.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive for a good quality wireless set
  • Keyboard is thin enough to slip into a bag for extra productivity on the go
  • Excellent battery life
  • Comfortable to type on
  • Symmetrical mouse allows lefties to join the fun, too

Cons:

  • Keyboard wristrest makes keyboard bigger
  • No discrete buttons on mouse, like forward/back
  • Wireless transceiver is awkwardly shaped and far bigger than necessary
  • Included SetPoint software can be very buggy


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