Like many other veteran notebook computer users, I came to realise the neccessity of adding external input devices to complement those of the system itself. Most people desire a clean workspace, and certainly a laptop will provide that, but new users don’t often realise the problems associated with their use. Laptops generally have smaller keyboards, less user-friendly mousing devices and an uncomfortably positioned screen.
The obvious solution to these problems is to use external peripherals, and with wireless solutions falling in price I figured now was a good time to try them. I had two main requirements for my wireless desktop:
a) Have a “notebook style” keyboard
b) Include a media remote
The notebook style keyboard was especially important to me since I would still primarily be using my system keyboard for data entry. In the past I had found adjusting between the laptop and desktop keyboards something of a difficulty. The notebook style keyboards available generally have a softer, smaller key travel and are very flat (as opposed to the keys being raked upwards in most keyboards).
Logitech Wireless S510 keyboard and mouse setup (view large image)
The media remote was something of an additional fancy since over recent months I had taken to watching DVD’s and listening to music on my system whilst I was in bed. Naturally, having to get up and alter settings ruins the mood, if you catch my drift.
As I browsed websites and bricks&mortar stores I noticed most of the keyboards on offer were unusually shaped and bulky with an unhealthy obsession with media controls. I quickly determined the main two options were the S510 set, or the Di Novio, both by Logitech. The Di Novio used a Bluetooth system for attachment which is great but was expensive (over 100 British Pounds ($180 dollars)) and contained a bizarre numpad-cum-media remote which didn’t really appeal to me. The S510 came in at 49.99 pounds ($90 dollars) (note that an edition without media remote is available for around 35 pounds ($63 dollars)). I bought this from PC World (not known for being cheap) since it was surprisingly the best price around. I should add that the S510 uses RF (radio frequency) as opposed to IR (infra red) transmission, giving greater range and not requiring to be in line of sight with the transmitter.
USB Dongle RF transmitter (view large image)
Measuring the dongle with a centimeter ruler (view large image)
The Logitech S510 Wireless Desktop Set Package
I don’t actually have any pictures of the packaging to show you since I bought it early January and later trashed all the boxes in my attic. Suffice to say being a Logitech product, it was well packaged in a large and sturdy box (so sturdy it took me a good while to open it).
Contained in the S510 box is:
- 1 Keyboard
- 1 Mouse
- 1 Remote
- 1 Wireless USB Dongle
- 1 USB Extension Lead
- 1 Driver CD
- 4 Duracell AAA Batteries (used in keyboard and remote)
- 2 Duracell AA Batteries (used in mouse)
In the box (view large image)
I was impressed that Logitech included all the batteries required (good quality ones to boot). There was a lot of clear plastic coating the shiny plastic parts of the keyboard which took about 5 minutes of concerted effort to remove. The USB extension lead was a nice touch, and included an angled base in which to insert the wireless dongle. This is great for those with Desktop systems or cramped USB ports. Again I was impressed with the attention to detail showed by Logitech.
Left side profile of the keyboard (view large image)
Above view of the wireless Logitech S510 keyboard (view large image)
The keyboard may well be the most important aspect of this package since it is the most subjective element. The key strokes are quiet, much more so than the general clicky’ sound you get from cheap desktop boards. The vertical key travel is less than a typical desktop board, but still deeper than the majority of notebooks out there. The layout is just as a typical full size keyboard. It also contains a built in wrist rest, which is slightly curved and works very well in my experience despite the fact I am not a fan of wristrests in general. The similarity of the keys to a notebook with the versatility of a desktop keyboard make it very easy to switch between the two (especially useful if you are a gamer). The zero degree tilt (the flatness) helps in this regard since it is just like laptop boards and apparently better for the wrists.
Keyboard resting flat (view large image)
Demonstrating the slimness of the S510 keyboard (view large image)
The keyboard also contains a number of additional keys and buttons to enhance usability. They are very tasteful and useful additions, in stark contrast to the generally useless multimedia/internet/shopping/dogwalking keys on most such systems. On both sides of the keyboard are shiny black strips containing the multimedia keys. On the left is a battery indicator light, hibernate/standby and browser keys. Underneath these are image manipulation keys (rotate, zoom in/out and original-size). I don’t find these keys too useful but they are unintrusive nevertheless. On the right hand side we have the media controls. From top to bottom these are: media player (launches whatever player you wish, in my case iTunes), play/pause, stop, skip forward/back, shuffle, volume, mute. In my experience these are great and positioned just right. For someone like me without dedicated media buttons on the laptop they are a definite boon (especially the mute key). It is also worth adding that these keys work in whatever media application happens to be running as opposed to being tied to one specific player.
The function keys at the top of the board are half size and have double functions. To their right is a mode key which switches between extended functions, and usual F1, F2 etc. They have predefined functions (launching word, excel, undo et al) but can be tied to whatever you like using the included software. In total this means you have 12 shortcuts, which is potentially very useful for some people who use macros etc.
Function keys (view large image)
Aesthetically the keyboard (like the rest of the set) is comprised of 3 different materials. There is a soft sheen dark grey — pewter like — plastic, which shares the majority of area with a matte black plastic. The shiny black plastic is reserved for accenting. Very tasteful and very modern and certain to please those (like myself) for whom such things are important. This definitely won’t look out of place in your lounge or office. Build quality is very good, especially at this price point. There is a slight creaking of the wristrest on the extreme left but I find this never actually occurs during real world usage. The keyboard is fairly weighty due to the presence of metal which gives it a good feel and stops it sliding along your desk. If you prefer a slight slope to your typing surface, there are small legs which raise the rear a few degrees.
The Logitech S510 Mouse
Measuring the included S510 mouse (view large image)
The mouse is ideal for left or right handers since it has no ergonomic shape. Despite this I find it comfortable to use for long periods of time. Certainly not as ideal as some more expensive mice around, but fine for general usage. It is an optical sensor (not laser) which seems more accurate than my previous (wired) Belkin optical. There is no red light emitted, which may disappoint Terminator fans, but I find better (especially in dark environments. The mouse has two main buttons (left and right) which have a pleasing click but not overly loud. Between them is a tilt wheel. This is just like older wheel’s except for being able to tilt left and right. This of course also functions as a middle mouse button (ideal for tabs in Firefox) as well. The scroll function works well and I should note it has small ribs which give an idea how far you have scrolled (ideal for first person shooters) unlike certain new mice which scroll with no resistance at all. The tilt wheel function is a bit useless out of the box since it is set to scroll left and right (though I suppose heavy image editors may find this useful). With some customization you may find this perhaps the most useful addition of all. You can set left and right tilt to do almost anything you want, whether this is a macro or launching a program or keystroke. I wanted to use it as the forward and backward keys in my browser but I was annoyed to find there was no plug-in for this (though IE6 and up worked fine) in Firefox. I searched a long time for a solution until it hit me — tie the wheel to the keyboard shortcut for those actions (backspace & shift+backspace, in my case).
The mouse is weighted well, with most of the mass being in the rear due to the battery placement. The top shell of the mouse slides off to reveal the battery compartment, which is a very elegant solution. The mouse also contains a battery indicator, which flashes when battery power is getting low. On the base is an on/off switch for when you won’t be using the rodent for a longer period. This is rarely necessary though since the mouse turns itself into a hibernated state reducing power usage to almost nothing. There is a slight delay when moving the cursor after a period of none activity but this was unintrusive. This system clearly works since the mouse has been going strong on the original batteries since I bought it in early January to now (late April) which is a good four months. The same excellent battery life goes for both the keyboard and remote, both of which are still on their original AAA’s. The mouse works well for games I should report though if you are a heavy gamer you will undoubtedly want a more ergonomic and accurate mouse. For image editing & casual gaming this mouse does the business.
The remote is surprisingly tasteful compared to some of the rival products out there, and would not look out of place in a lounge setting. It is relatively light yet not cheap feeling, and a good size to hold in one hand whilst reaching all the buttons. In addition to general media control buttons, there are some additional keys which deserve some explanation. First and perhaps most important, there is a standby/hibernate key which means you can turn your system off from across the room which is a definite boon for bedtime. The top row of buttons contain a right click menu, maximise and close window button — I don’t find these particularly useful but nice to have anyway. Below them are 3 programmable buttons which can be used to do anything you like (launch programs, launch playlists etc). The great thing about these buttons is the way you can create the shortcut with them — simply hold it down whilst the action you want to shortcut to is occurring. For example, when iTunes is playing, hold the key to shortcut to iTunes in future. If a playlist is running in Winamp, hold the key to shortcut to that playlist from now on. This is a great solution and very easy to use. In the centre of the unit we have a scroll wheel enabling you to rapidly navigate lists (eg music library) and launch using the enter key below. You are also able to navigate left and right. Below this is a large media key which launches Logitech’s own media suite. I don’t find that application very useful since it seems a bit clunky, but is basically an all-in-one solution for playing music, video and photos from a central location. I imagine most people will prefer to use their own separate applications. It uses a file directory structure from what I can see. On a small strip on the side of the remote are the same photo manipulation buttons as the keyboard. I imagine this could be useful for presentations. In fact, the remote could conceivably used for presentations using powerpoint with the right amount of customization applied.
The including CD contains Logitech’s Setpoint software which controls such things as cursor speed, and programmable buttons. It also includes Logitech’s media software should you wish to install it (though that is not essential). I should point out that the drivers are not essential to use the mouse and keyboard as basic peripherals, but are required in order to use programmable buttons. This is a good solution which leaves the decision down to the user. It also means you can use the set on any PC without having to install anything — a bonus for some office workers. The Setpoint software uses about 10MB of memory, which for a frugal RAM user such as myself is a decent tradeoff for the amount of functionality it provides.
This set is ideal for anyone looking for a good quality external keyboard and mouse. Since it is available with or without remote consumers can choose for themselves which they desire. It takes up only a small amount of desk area compared to some bulkier sets and has a clean, modern look — leaving the multimedia keys for the essential actions. Take into account the excellent battery life (4 months so far for a heavy user like myself) and excellent wireless range (10m) and you have a system which should meet most user’s requirements easily.
- Good quality
- Good value
- Good design
- Excellent scope for customization
- Excellent keyboard
- Ability to control computer from afar
- Not Bluetooth (hence requires RF dongle)
- Optical mouse, not laser
- Shiny black plastic is a fingerprint magnet
Logitech S510 Pricing and Availability:
S510 with Media Remote included:
S510 without Media Remote: