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For some time at home now I’ve been using a rather nice looking Hiper aluminium keyboard. It’s also very compact. Unfortunately, it’s also badly laid out and keys are never where you expect them to be.

It annoys me that high street PC magazines rarely cover essential items such as keyboards and mice, giving them only a fleeting comment when bundled with a PC.

So, after a recommendation on Twitter I bought a Microsoft Keyboard 600 – a wired affair (can’t see the point in wireless keyboards) – for a rather cheap £9.99. It’s spill resistant. It’s got a few extra keys. It’s quiet. Most importantly, it uses a standard keyboard layout. Hurrah!

Anyway, it turned up yesterday. The keys have an excellent feel and it is quiet in use. I couldn’t tell from the specification but it has little feet on the rear, for those (like me) who don’t like having their keyboards flat on the desk.

It has a very handy calculator button next to the “lock” lights and across the top there are 4 media buttons (volume up, down, mute and play/pause). The keyboard is USB only and I’m running Windows XP – the keyboard (and media buttons) work immediately without any need for drivers (not that any come with it).  However, the volume doesn’t appear on screen – this can be corrected by installing Microsoft’s free IntelliType software, which adds extra functionality (e.g. remapping the keys).

The top row of keys (mainly Function keys) are half height but, as they’re hardly used, this isn’t a great issue. It’s just a shame that they shrunk the “Esc” key as well – there’s nothing above it, so it could have been full height without a problem.

[review]It looks looks, it feels good and is under a tenner. The only downer is the half height function and Esc keys (I think it could also have done with back and forward track media buttons as well), but for the money it’s not worth losing a rating star over.

If you’re after a new keyboard, aren’t bothered about it being wireless and don’t want to pay any ridiculous prices then this is excellent value for money.[/review]