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Logitech Cordless Freedom Navigator
Reviewed by Jim Sutherland

I'd like to start by thanking the RPCUG Board and the entire membership for affording me this opportunity. Hopefully this is just the first of many. Now, on with the review!

The CORDLESS FREEDOM NAVIGATOR is a complete wireless desktop solution consisting of an "iTouch Keyboard," a "MouseMan Wheel" mouse and a radio receiver. The system uses radio frequency (RF) technology to facilitate communication from the keyboard and mouse to the receiver. Unlike infrared (IR), RF doesn't require the components to be "looking" at each other for proper operation. This allows for greater flexibility in terms of placement and movement. The keyboard combines traditional functionality with multimedia, Internet, and system controls. In addition to the traditional button layout of wheeled mice, i.e. left-wheel+middle-right, Logitech has placed a fourth button on the right side just below the thumb. Logitech provides quick-start and comfort guides in four languages, and a CD containing the software needed to program the keyboard and mouse buttons. They've even thrown in a coupon for a 10% rebate on a future
purchase of Logitech products.

I have two comments regarding installation on Windows ME systems that merit mentioning. First, support for Windows ME is not mentioned anywhere, not on the box, the install guide, or even the CD label. However, there is a "WinME" folder on the CD, and the "readme.txt" file has a WinME section, so immediate web-surfing for updates is not mission-critical. Second, the use of USB for the keyboard in WinME is advised against by Logitech because you will not be able to program the extra buttons. Outside of that, installation is simple and straightforward: install batteries (provided) into the keyboard and mouse, attach the radio receiver to the computer (via PS/2 or USB), establish communications between the receiver + keyboard + mouse (a simple matter of pressing "connect" buttons on all the units), boot the computer, install the software, re-boot and enjoy! The installation guide clearly illustrates all the steps above, ensuring success for all.

The "iTouch Keyboard" keys lack the distinct click of an IBM, but they are by no means mushy, and besides, silence is not such a bad thing! An interesting aspect of the keyboard is that it physically lacks indicators for NumLock, CapLock and ScrollLock. Those indicators are displayed in the system tray. It is unconventional, but the status of each is easily read. The multimedia and Internet keys, as well as the system key, are controlled and programmed by the "iTouch" program. Pressing the "play/pause" button starts the default CD player whatever that may be. The rest of the multimedia keys perform the usual functions such as speaker mute and next track. The Internet keys, or "iKeys", can start your e-mail client, zip you to your homepage, or begin a web-search. I think Logitech intends them to be used for Internet-specific tasks, but in reality you can assign them to start any program you like. The system key functions in one of two ways; if you have power management enabled, it will put your system in suspend mode, if not, it will bring up the Windows shutdown dialog box. I found the keyboard performed as promised, with the added benefits of enough programmable keys to be actually useful and of being wireless. With respect to being wireless. I found I could exceed Logitech's maximum range, but not by much. I would expect most people will place the keyboard on their lap, and then tilt back in the 'ole office chair, much as I'm doing now. I say: "mission accomplished, Logitech!"

The "MouseMan Wheel" is conventional and unique at the same time. Conventionally speaking, the button layout and default functions are like those of most other wheel mice and it requires a surface of some kind to roll around on. The uniqueness is evident in the design (a four buttoned swoopy shape decidedly aimed at right-handers), and the "MouseWare" software. The fourth button, under the thumb, is a double-edged sword. I found it convenient to have another button at my disposal, but I also found it a little too easy to activate by mistake. And if you have it set to "end program" like I did, you WILL be frustrated.

"MouseWare" can assign any function to any button, so that problem was short lived. I can't see why anyone would want to change the normal functions of the left and right mouse buttons, but it's possible here. The neatest thing has to be Logitech's "WebWheel". This program, when activated, displays a circular graphic divided into 10 pie wedges. Half of the wedges are pre-programmed with browser commands such as back, reload, and stop, while the other half are user assignable in a fashion similar to "Favorites" in Internet Explorer. It's very convenient to be two clicks away from these functions without a lot of cursor motion. The range of the mouse is significantly less than that of the keyboard, but I think the main benefit of being wireless here is to reduce desk clutter.

Overall, the Freedom Navigator is easy to setup, performs as designed, and offers enough convenience features to enhance the usability of your computer without requiring dedicated study. To me, Logitech got it all right with the Freedom Navigator.

Cordless Freedom Navigator by Logitech
List $99 / Street $79
System requirements:
USB or PS/2 ports
CD drive
8 MB disk space

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