Optical Desktop Elite with Fingerprint Reader

3 Mar 2005

Product: Wireless desktop and mouse and fingerprint reader
Price: €250
Microsoft has hopped on the biometric bandwagon and developed its first fingerprint recognition device, putting the latest technology literally into your own hands.

The Optical Desktop Elite with Fingerprint Reader for Bluetooth doesn’t look that different from its previous wireless mouse and keyboard packages except that it comes with a fingerprint scanner. If you are tired of having to give websites secret data such as your mother’s maiden name or your favourite food in order to be emailed your account information, this could be for you.

It is an input device that not only provides an efficient, comfortable typing experience but it also secures your digital identity and automates the log-on process for websites and Windows programmes. The fingerprint reader replaces his or her name and password with the user’s fingerprint. It is easy to set up and use, provided your browser is Microsoft Explorer.

The software takes four scans of your finger (any one will do), after which you are ready to create fingerprint logins for your favourite websites. I visited Hotmail and let the reader scan my fingerprint (left index, if you must know). A window popped up, asked for my username and password and let me choose either Submit or other options. Subsequent visits to the site required that I only submit my fingerprint. It was quickly recognised (in a couple of seconds), before I was granted access to my inbox.

It’s important to note that the fingerprint reader’s primary use is for managing rather than protecting passwords and Microsoft doesn’t recommend it for storing financial information such as banking passwords. It goes as far as to say in its manual: “The fingerprint reader is not a security feature.”

The wireless keyboard and mouse don’t look that different from previous wireless packages. The keyboard itself is comfortable, with quiet-sounding and evenly spaced keys.

Customisable hot keys, including Messenger Mail and Web/Home, launch at one touch. Favourites in My Documents, My Picture and My Music are within easy reach. They are all just the right size and are far enough from the normal keys to prevent any accidental clicks. The only downside is that the keyboard is on the big side.

The mouse is fine for general office use; it works perfectly on almost any surface and the longer battery life is a real bonus. Wireless freedom allows users to click up to six feet away from the receiver (even if it is out of sight). No wires on the desk also means a less cluttered and more organised space — but let’s be honest, it just leaves more room for my notepad, coffee, toast and newspaper.

All in all, the Optical Desktop Elite with Fingerprint Reader for Bluetooth was fun to use and having a fingerprint sensor built in is just so impressive. At the same time, the security conscious will love this biometrically secure input suite. But for all users it is a great tool for leaving your password woes in the past.

By Lisa Deeney