Gear Head KB5500W5/31/2009 2:00:23 PM

Pros: Great look for both the KB and the mouse. The KB has a "Star Trek" or HTPC thing going, and the mouse is a direct adaptation of Microsoft's famous righty-mice. Forward/back buttons on mouse, clicky mouse wheel, additional multimedia buttons on keybard are all very nice. I'm using Ubuntu Linux for OS, and all the multimedia keys are EXTREMELY customizable via the keyboard shortcut program. Sounds like that's not the case for PC and Mac users. The KB buttons are low-profile, short travel, much like a laptop keyboard. I really like that. It's fairly rare in wireless keyboards. I find that low-profile keyboards are better than ergonomic for my wrists. The board is quiet, too. The multimedia keys are laid out in a sensible fashion, with the most accessed ones being made larger, and positioned on the sides of the board. And somebody finally moved the sleep button somewhere I won't accidentally hit it -- the LEFT-hand side of the board. Thank you!

Cons: The light weight, and cheapish plastic could be better. Nothing horrible -- but they LOOK LIKE the kind of plastic you'd get with a product at this price. They just don't feel substantial. There are no lights that indicate caps/scroll/num lock. Those would be helpful. The mouse buttons have a VERY light, clicky feel to them. Some people will love that, but it feels a little like I could click them by accident, or they might wear out quickly. Time will tell. Also, the dongle is programmed to the KB and mouse, so if you lose any part of the setup, you'll have to go directly to the company for another one. Other reviews say the product has died quickly on them. Again -- only time will tell.

Overall Review: This is not a HTPC solution -- so don't try it. There's no Media Center button anywhere, and the mouse would be a pain to work on your couch. On the other hand -- it feels like an overall FANTASTIC solution for my desktop. A low-profile, multimedia wireless keyboard and mouse combo, that works well with my OS. The only thing that would make it better would be if the caps/scroll/num lock keys had any indicator, and if the keys were backlit. Of course, both of those additions would eat up batteries -- but I'd love it. By far, this is closest to the ideal wireless KB & mouse setup I've had.

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NICE BOARD - NICE PRICE3/11/2009 4:44:34 AM

Pros: Socket 775 means it's quad-core compatible, but can take low-end, low cost processors. Nicely laid out for the teeny-tiny form factor. Takes up to 4 gig of RAM. Nice. Plenty of USB on the backplate for expansion, which helps this form-factor. Only 1 on-board expansion slot, which is typical for Mini ITX. I like the use of PCI Express. Onboard Wi-Fi worked out of the box. Feels very sturdy, even after working it in and out of my case several times. All power & fan connections are marked nicely.

Cons: The on-board Wi-Fi isn't actually on-board ... it's is an itty-bitty board all it's own and has to be connected to the motherboard via 2 screws, and a connection to one of the USB pin sets. Not a huge problem, just be aware so you don't have to yank the board after installation like I did. It fits in nicely between the USB and audio ports. All the slots and pins are TIGHT on the board -- but again, it's Mini ITX. One pin in the CPU heatsink didn't feel like it "clicked" in ... but seems secure. Not sure if that's an issue with the board or the heatsink connector.

Overall Review: I built this for a home theater PC project, and I'm absolutely satisfied with it. It booted up first try, and is running Vista with Aero flawlessly. The graphics only rate a 3 in the Vista Experience rating -- but it's on-board video and not intended to be a gaming machine. It won't play Crysis at full-load -- but you could easily do MAME or some less graphic-intensive games. Make sure you run the drivers disk (one click .exe program) to get the proper drivers for video, audio, ethernet, etc. This is my first Mini ITX build, and I'm very happy. I have more experience with ATX and BTX. Ultimately, I put in a 2.2 gig dual-core celeron, 2 gig of ram, a slim-line sony DVD RW, 1 tb storage, and a half-height HDTV tuner. All for less than $375.00 here on Newegg.

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