Microsoft's Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 8000 ($299.95 list) is all play and no work. For that chunk of change, you're not likely to buy it for your desktop, though. This keyboard and mouse set is meant to be used while you're sitting on your couch and using your Media Center PC with a large HDTV.
The first thing you'll notice about the 8000 is its—shall we say MacBookish?—silver sheen and super-thin design, tailor-made for living-room use. Even in our tech-savvy office, passersby stopped and cooed over its luster and sleekness.
The keyboard is built like a laptop keyboard. The keys give a satisfying click that feels and sounds like that of Lenovo's ThinkPad keyboard, one of our favorites. And the laptop resemblances don't end there. The 8000 has no number pad, is compact in size, and has myriad media buttons for one-click access to your entertainment. The lack of a number pad may bother some users (I personally like having one), but for a living-room keyboard, a smaller form factor may be more important than having a number pad.
The "comfort curve" design is much easier on the wrists than a typical straight keyboard, but not as ergonomic as the split-board design Microsoft uses elsewhere. It's much easier for hunt-and-peck users, though, and depending on how much typing you do on your Media Center PC, you'll either appreciate the comfort curve or, at worst, not notice its benefits. One thing you'll like either way is the silver backlit keys, which come in handy when you're using it in a dark living room.
One of my favorite conveniences is that mouse and keyboard share a docking station that serves to recharge the AAA rechargeable batteries that both devices use. (Lots of wireless keyboards and mice use either disposable or non-user-replaceable batteries, which can get expensive over time.) The docking station powers the devices and also provides the Bluetooth connectivity when the devices aren't docked. (They pair easily with a standard Bluetooth dongle as well.) The dock also integrates four USB ports.
Although the 8000 is a fine solution for living-room use—you can put it in your entertainment center or tuck it away somewhere—it's too big to be practical for desktop use. The dock is roughly the size of two decks of cards side by side. That might not seem big, but when the keyboard is docked and there's a monitor behind the pair desktop space disappears quickly. The dock has its own power brick, too, adding to the rat's nest of cables under your desk. All told, it's certainly more of a hassle than a normal wired keyboard would be.
The included Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 is silver, to match the keyboard. A handy battery indicator lets you know how much juice it has left. My only real complaint with the mouse is the placement of the back/forward buttons. Most mice that have these put both on the left side for easy thumb access, while the 8000 splits them, with one on each side. It's not a huge inconvenience, but it takes some getting used to.
In addition to the typical media keys, Play, Pause, FF, Rew, and Volume, there are also channel up/down buttons, a zoom button, Record, a back browser button, right and left mouse-click buttons, and two Windows Start buttons. A navigation pad further minimizes the necessity for a mouse. The Escape key at the top left and the F1 to F12 keys are cool-looking silver slivers.
If you're looking for a stylish complement to your HDTV or Media Center PC and have $300 to spend on a set of input devices, the Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 8000 is a fine choice.