Personal technology has erupted into something spectacular over the past few years. Our devices are getting more powerful, thinner, smaller, and bigger at the same time. Our smart phones continuously get more spectacular, our laptops get thinner and lighter, and our tablets have emerged as the in-between for both devices that seems to be the best of both worlds.
These devices have their downfalls. The Apple iPad lacks utility and practicality, offering no other input method other than touch. Then there’s the Microsoft Surface. It offers utility and functionality, but can lack in performance.
To me, nothing will replace a good laptop. I love running around with my Dell Ultrabook, and I can tell Apple users have an affinity for their MacBook Airs. Both definitely play to a convenience, though, instead of a true practicality, making you suffer with diminutive built-in peripherals that aren’t always as intuitive as we’d like. It makes me long for a real keyboard and a great mouse.
No one really wants to run around with a second bulky keyboard and mouse when they have them built into their laptops, but for those who interact with these devices in a work environment, it becomes a necessity. Good external peripherals can get pricey fast, which tends to be a deterrent for those on the hunt.
One of my last visits to Goodwill solved my issue with just that. I came across two very recent, very impressive products that I was surprised to find on a random bargain hunt. One was a Microsoft Arc 2 Mouse. The other was a Logitech K750 Solar Keyboard. Both had their connecting dongles with them as well, which tends to be some of the rarest of finds. Both products are currently retailing for $60.00 and $70.00 respectively. I paid $6.99 for the mouse and $9.99 for the keyboard.
The pros for me about both products is that they are both great flat travelers. The downside is they each use their own proprietary USB dongles instead of Bluetooth, which will take up two prime real estate USB ports. But individually they each offer something truly unique that make them perfect.
The Microsoft Arc 2 mouse is greatly improved upon in design from the original, allowing this one to collapse completely flat. The dongle is stored on the underside of the mouse via magnets, which is pretty awesome. It utilizes Microsoft’s BlueTrack Technology and works on every surface, from glass to granite.
Then there’s the Logitech K750 Solar keyboard. I’ve bought two of these from Goodwill, one for myself optimized for Windows, the other for Apple, which I gifted to a friend. The coolest thing about this keyboard is obvious: it’s solar powered, meaning no need to hunt for the elusive AA or AAA batteries when you need them most. It’s a sturdy full keyboard, with a numeric keypad, and has a great feel for typing.
The best part about it is that it charges in most any light condition, no matter if it is powered on or off. It runs off of a rechargeable button cell that you’ll never need to replace. It also has a great companion desktop app that lets you know how it’s performing, measuring its charge capacity and light optimization.
They’ve both become great companions for my small Ultrabook, and lets me work in a more professional way. Of course, one thing I must always do is make it my own by modifying it to be perfect for me. I loved the idea from the mouse to store its dongle on the underside with a magnet, so I wanted to find a creative way to store the dongle for the keyboard since it did not have a way to store it.
Since I’ll most likely be traveling with both mouse and keyboard almost exclusively, I decided to explore my options. While playing around with the mouse, I found out that it actually had two magnetic anchors on its underside. I noticed that the dongle from Logitech was not magnetic but felt oddly hollow, so I carefully took it apart and found that it had an empty cavity right under the USB contacts, plenty of space between the innards and the casing. I took to my junk drawer and found a small thin piece of metal that was highly magnetic. After carefully cutting to size, placing, and gluing, I reassembled it and tested to make sure the dongle still worked with the keyboard. Worked like a charm. Then came the true test was to see how well it stored in tandem on the underside of the Arc mouse. It gripped the underside like a glove.
The comfort of these devices is outstanding, especially since I wasn’t gouged by their original prices. I’m surprised more and more by what electronic gems I find at Goodwill, since we’ve come to expect to find outdated clothing styles, unwanted baubles, and the obligatory matching sweat outfits with some terrifying kitten landscapes on them. But with patience, you will find those diamonds in the rough. It really does go from Goodwill to great finds.