Chieftec Wireless Desktop 7th December 2002
Chieftec have been having some considerable success recently by offering attractive looking cases at about the price point for unbranded OEM ones. After all, who would want a plain case when you can choose from a number of stylish colours. Add to this a lot of useful small touches like drive rails, one-touch remove-able drive cages and the use of powerful 360W PSUs and you could be hard pressed to find a reason not to buy a Chieftec case instead of any other brand at this price point.
This philosophy has been carried forward to peripherals and Chieftec now offer keyboards and mice to match the colours of their cases. We recently received Chieftec's Wireless Desktop which has only just been made available in the UK. Here's what is included in the box (click for a larger picture):
All the components have a two-tone matt black finish and are of a strong, sturdy construction. The mouse has a smooth action (it's not optical) with responsive buttons and wheel. The keyboard gives good tactile feedback and includes some extra keys for additional internet functionality.
Before we delve into this review lets recap on wireless transmission. There are basically 2 ways to send data from A to B - infra-red and radio wave. Remote controls use infra-red and this is cheap and reliable with adequate range for most living rooms. The only drawback is that you have to point in the general direction of the device being controlled (your TV for example) and that arc gets narrower as your batteries wear out until it wont work at all. Radio on the other hand is more expensive and can be prone to interference but there is more flexibility in placement.
The Wireless Desktop above uses the latter method with a receiving unit that draws its power from the keyboard socket. It has two activity lights (one for the mouse and the other for the keyboard) and colour coded connectors on the end of its lead. Chieftec recommend you place the receiving unit at least 20cm from either monitor or PC but we found no sign of any interference. In fact the receiver can be hidden away almost anywhere as no line of sight is required to either mouse or keyboard. The mouse takes a single AA battery while the keyboard takes two AAA batteries (all of which are included). It is not recommended to use cheap batteries as they may leak (and they have the inconvenience of changing them more often) or rechargeable batteries. The reason for this is that NiCd or NiMh batteries lose their charge over a period of time (a month or so) making them unsuitable for prolonged low power use. They are better used in devices such as digital cameras which have a high drain. The manual suggests that the batteries should last 3-6 months in average use.
Setting up is very straightforward as it's just a case of plugging everything in although old drivers should be deleted first. No drivers are required for the devices to work (good thing or it would be difficult to enter a PCs BIOS during start-up) although you do need a small driver for the keyboard to use the extra Email/Multimedia buttons. Positioning is very easy with a range of about 3 meters and even during furious typing no key press is missed. The mouse behaves as any other wheel mouse and is comfortable to grip for prolonged use.
This will appeal to a wide range of users. If you need desk space for reading/writing you can just pick up the mouse and keyboard and put them away without having to worry about connected wires. The Wireless Desktop makes an ideal Christmas present - especially for someone with a matching case. This offering is definately one of the better wireless solutions you can buy and is also one of the cheapest Radio ones (IR solutions have been plagued with problems and line of sight is required). All we can say is keep up the good work Chieftec
We would like to thank Chieftec for the review sample Wireless Desktop.
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