Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A loss of a perfectly good practical joke

Today I decided that I would enter an absent coworker's office and replace his English keyboard with the French Canadian model of the same keyboard (the one I bought by mistake). I was all ready to do it, and so I casually walked by his office to scout things out, and to my horror, it was already gone! He has replaced it with one of those newfangled Natural Ergonomic Keyboards 4000. So sad. A perfectly good practical joke, ruined.

I don't think that I like the new 4000, though I haven't used it yet. I lament the loss of the track forward and back buttons, and it looks like the handy log off (I use it to lock, not log off) and calculator buttons are gone too. You can use the 1-5 Favorites buttons in the middle for that, but that's a very poor substitute for dedicated keys in just the right places. Also, even worse is that the delete/home/end/etc. keys have reverted to the old classic 3x2 layout. Microsoft's first iteration at an alternate 2x3 layout wasn't that great, but their newer 2x3 layout with no insert key was absolutely perfect.

It's really too bad. I've always loved Microsoft hardware, but now my three favorite Microsoft hardware products are out of production: the Sidewinder Game Pad Pro (replaced with the Xbox 360 USB controller, which I have yet to touch), the IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 (replaced with the far inferior 4000 model), and the Natural MultiMedia Keyboard (replaced with the Ergonomic 4000). Eventually they'll wear out and I may not be able to find replacements, which will be a sad day. I was able to track down a replacement Sidewinder, for which I am very happy, so hopefully I'll be able to do the same for my mouse and keyboard.

Of course, even better would be if Microsoft would get back to making hardware products that I like, because I have yet to find a Logitech product that touched my soul as dearly, and let's not even get started on the sad state of the crap that Saitek and Apple and Belkin put out.

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