capsule review

DeskSaver Companion keyboard and mouse

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BenQ’s compact DeskSaver Companion keyboard/mouse combination is designed for places where a standard keyboard and mouse won’t fit. At only 10.8 inches wide by 5.2 inches deep by 0.4 inches thick, the keyboard is among the smallest we’ve seen. In fact, it’s small (and thin) enough to easily fit in a laptop bag for more-ergonomic typing on-the-go.

To achieve this low profile, the DeskSaver’s keyboard uses laptop-style scissor keys. The keys are firm, with a good tactile response, but they are spaced very close together—error-free typing on the DeskSaver takes some practice. The keyboard also sacrifices the traditional numeric keypad and distributes the Page Up, Page Down, Help, Forward Delete, Home, and End keys—usually grouped together—around the keyboard. Finally, a number of keys serve double duty; a function (Fn) key lets you access these keys’ secondary functions.

Despite its small size, the keyboard does include a few useful extras: Volume Up, Down, and Mute keys; a dedicated Eject button; and a Sleep button (which actually brings up Mac OS X’s Restart/Sleep/Shut Down dialog). All of these keys work without any special drivers.

Unfortunately, despite this out-of-the-box OS X compatibility, the DeskSaver’s keyboard is Windows-centric: Although the Windows key is also labeled with a Mac Command-key symbol, the Command and Alt/Option keys are switched; you’ll need to use OS X’s Keyboard preferences to swap them. There’s also a Windows key on the right side instead of a Command key.

The DeskSaver Companion’s mouse is a 800-dpi optical model with left and right buttons, as well as a clickable scroll wheel. At 3.3 inches long by 2 inches wide, the mouse is fairly compact but large enough to be usable. However, I found the mouse’s too-smooth surface to be difficult to grip. The mouse is also extremely light; although this is a nice feature if you’re carrying the DeskSaver set in your laptop bag, it also means that even the slightest bump of the mouse or its cable will move the mouse. (In fact, the tension from the mouse’s cable was enough to lift the front edge of the mouse off my desk.) Like the keyboard, the DeskSaver mouse works without any drivers. The scroll wheel’s click functions as a Command-click out of the box, and the left and right buttons work as expected.

The keyboard’s slim and compact design has one unfortunate side effect when it comes to connecting the mouse: There’s no room for a USB port on the keyboard, so each piece—keyboard and mouse—requires a separate USB port on your computer.

Macworld’s buying advice

The DeskSaver Companion’s small size makes it a good fit for locations where desk real estate is an issue; it can even slip into a laptop bag. However, the keyboard’s Windows-centric keyboard layout and cramped keys make it less than ideal as a full-time Mac keyboard, and the mouse is difficult to grip and too lightweight.

[ Dan Frakes is a senior editor at Macworld.]

DeskSaver Companion keyboard and mouse
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