Microsoft Digital Media Pro

by Beauty

My quest for a new computer keyboard started the first week that I had my new puppy. He couldn?t be left unsupervised, so I decided to block him in to my den while I worked on my computer. I thought it was great when he decided to play under my chair as I could keep track of him with my feet while I typed, without having to look up. It probably won?t surprise you to learn that my keyboard stopped typing in mid-sentence, thanks to some well-placed puppy teeth marks.

I decided not to spend a lot of money on my new keyboard in case the same misfortune should befall me again. I picked one up from the University bookstore for under $10?nothing fancy, just something beige with working keys was fine for my needs. Then I was given the opportunity to test drive Microsoft?s new Digital Media Pro Keyboard and I had to jump at the chance, if only at first because of its futuristic silver and black layout.

The first thing you should know about this keyboard is that it?s wired. So if you?re into all the snazzy new wireless stuff, this isn?t the product for you. For the rest of you, this keyboard offers some cool features to help you quickly navigate documents, web sites, and even your photos and images at a reasonable (if slightly high for a wired keyboard) price. The keyboard is compatible with both PC and Macintosh platforms and uses a standard keyboard PS/2 port or a USB connection. Be aware that for full functionality of the quick keys, you will need to install the keyboard software that comes packaged with the product.

This product has many cool and handy features. The first is a zoom control on the left side of the keyboard that is useful for viewing large documents or images. All you need to do is slide the bar up or down, and the document you?re viewing zooms in or out. (I have to say my keyboard zooms fine but doesn?t like to zoom out, making this a very one-sided feature). This works great when viewing digital photos, Word documents, PDF files or small font web sites. Above the zoom bar are three keys that control your sound volume. One button mutes your sound, while the other two increase or decrease the volume, respectively. Above and to the right of the volume buttons are four video and music control functions: play/pause, stop, backward, and forward. Combined with the volume control buttons you can control your songs and clips quickly from your keyboard.

The ?My Favourites? hot keys are my favourite ones to use. They are five keys at the top of your keyboard that you can program with your favourite web sites, files, or folders. You can then quickly access them with the push of a button?much like you would with a car stereo?s preset buttons. I have a set ?routine? that I do when I get on the computer, I check certain sites and use certain files, so I have programmed my favourite buttons to correspond to that routine which saves me plenty of time. This is something I never thought I?d use but once you program it in with things you use a lot it becomes second nature just to press your button. In addition to the programmable ?My Favourites? buttons there are six buttons that come pre-programmed to perform certain functions which Microsoft assumes you?ll use regularly ? My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, a generic ?Mail? button, Home (for the internet) and Messenger. The first three are self-explanatory, you hit the button and up pops My Documents, and again this is a handy tool for shaving off a couple seconds and removing pesky hand motions from keyboard to mouse. (Hey, I?m not kidding, I have my mouse up and to the right of my keyboard so I utilize on-keyboard shortcuts whenever possible) When you click on Messenger, a version of MSN Messenger comes up ? however, it isn?t activated with the latest version 6.2, but rather this button pops up 4.7. I?m not sure why this is the case and while you can change the associations with these pre-programmed keys with the software that comes with it, I just find it curious that it would bring up the old Messenger program.

Overall the Microsoft Digital Media Pro Keyboard is easy to use, is a great time saver, and looks great. However, there are three things I?m not completely happy with: the zoom slide bar is finicky, there aren?t enough ?My Favourites? hot keys (this is the feature I use the most, so I would like to program more than 5 favourites), and the installation time is high (for a keyboard) when you take into account the software installation and hot key programming. Once the keyboard is set up, however, it is a breeze to use. I plan to continue using this keyboard… and to keep my puppy out of the den from now on.

  • Microsoft Digital Media Pro
  • by Beauty
  • Published on January 1st, 2005
4 / 5

More from :

Other recent features: