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The knight in white armour
When thinking of accessories for your Macintosh, the keyboard and mouse doesn't really come high on the list, but here’s one that might change all that. After all, if you're a touch typist you don't even look at your keyboard and no one really looks at their mouse. The only problem is that while Apple's efforts in producing a keyboard may look good, this writer has found the Apple Keyboard one of the most useless bits of kit ever purchased. So here's something that might just ease my pain.

Click to enlargeAfter purchasing my Powerbook almost three years ago, I wanted to have a full size keyboard so when sat at my desk I wouldn't have to use the rather good midsized keyboard that's built into the Powerbook. So I went for Apple's keyboard thinking that the company would design an equally good full sized desktop keyboard.

To my horror I ended up paying £40 for a keyboard that feels like I'm typing on jelly. Almost three years down the line a quick trip to my local Apple store confirmed that the key action of the latest Apple keyboards remain as mushy as peas in a school dinner. As for what happened to my Apple keyboard, it's leaning on the side of my desk waiting for its five minutes of fame in an eBay auction. Although you can plug any USB keyboard into a Mac, there are few that have Mac OS keys, like the "Apple" key. Thankfully Logitech have come to our rescue with the Cordless Desktop S 530.

On the outside Logitech have stuck to the golden rule for any Mac peripheral - make it white. I'm not a big fan of white on computer accessories, especially keyboards. It shows up dust and dirt, something keyboards and mice collect in abundance whichever colour adorns it. Still, you can't fault Logitech for following the crowd and my views on styling are probably best ignored as my colleagues would be happy to attest. Thankfully Logitech have done more than just slap some white paint onto their excellent diNovo keyboard and added a few buttons to the MX 600 mouse.

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The keyboard itself features a similar key action to their diNovo unit, providing a nice level of feedback on each keystroke but not requiring huge buttons to spoil the low profile of the keyboard. The Apple key is there along with the quirky Americanization of having the '@' swap places with the apostrophe. Dedicated keys, called "One Touch" keys are present for iTunes, iPhoto, Safari, Mail and Spotlight. They are positioned discretely down the side of the keyboard, amplifying the fact that this really is a keyboard that has been designed for the Mac user. Although I'm not a fan of wrist rests, the built in unit is comfortable. I have to say the keyboard looks much nicer than the Apple unit and is wireless to boot.

Click to enlargeAs this is a "Desktop" product, Logitech bundle the MX 600 cordless mouse. Bundle sounds a tad bargain basement and that would be an unfair representation as the laser mouse is very good. Modelled on Logitech's first laser mouse, the MX1000, it provides excellent comfort, tracking and next to the keyboard or any Mac it looks the part too.

The MX 600 mouse features a tilt wheel along with buttons positioned on the sides of each mouse button to adjust volume and aid in browsing the Web. Logitech say that this allows you to browse the Web without lifting your hand off the mouse, and that's perfectly true but I found myself pressing the buttons when I didn't want to. Compared to Apple's "Mighty Mouse", the Logitech unit feels more substantial and less like a toy. As with all cordless mice, the MX 600 is on the heavy side due to the batteries held within its belly. Not overly so, but if you're moving from a corded mouse then it'll take a couple of days to acclimatize.

Logitech's Setpoint software works well allowing the "One Touch" buttons to be configured to your liking. Wireless range is very good, allowing you to plug the USB receiver directly into your Mac or into the included stand. Click to enlargeRegardless of my personal preference against white keyboards, I have to admit the keyboard and mouse look very good against my Powerbook and Cinema Display. The only beef I have with this setup is that both the keyboard and mouse use two AAA and two AA batteries, respectively. A built-in rechargeable battery for the mouse would have been nice.

The Logitech Cordless Desktop S 530 is an excellent choice for those that want to ditch the keyboard and mouse that came with their system. I found the keyboard miles better than Apple's own unit and the mouse is also an improvement. Priced at around £55, it favours well against Apple's offerings and if you can look beyond the lack of an Apple logo then this really is the keyboard and mouse combo you should get.

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