I just wanted to be able to sit in a groove on my couch, or in my recliner, using my computer on a 37″ screen. Was that too much to ask? The companies make it so difficult; there are numerous products out there, but they all have shortcomings. Those that compromise the least are unreasonably expensive. So how could I get a good set-up without breaking the bank?
As we all know, I’m basing this arrangement around Inspy, my 17″ Dell laptop. I wanted to leave it sitting on the desk so I could use it there if need be, but I didn’t really want to touch it. So began my quest.
Disclosures: I do not work for, and have no interest in, Logitech, Amazon, or any other company mentioned in this article.
Connecting to the TV/Speakers
The laptop has a DVI port, but the TV prefers HDMI. So I had to get a DVI-HDMI cable, and Amazon had me covered for about $5 shipped. The cable is only ten feet long but it suffices for the distance between the desk and the TV stand. The picture is crisp and, while I’m still working out resolution and DPI specifics, it seems utterly usable and satisfactory.
As for audio, I’m still tinkering. I’d like to use the Logitech 5.1 system I already had but I would need a Creative X-Fi external tuner to make it compatible with the laptop, and that would run about $60…so I’m putting it off for now. As it stands, I can have the audio coming out of the two front Logitech speakers; I purchased a 25 foot 3.5 mm audio extension (male to female) cable from Amazon for $5 so that I could better position the speakers. It’s not ideal, but it’s cheap, and it will do until I can upgrade.
The Question of Input
This is where the big question marks arose: what keyboard and mouse combination is best? I gave a good look at the Logitech MediaBoard Pro for PS3; it runs on Bluetooth and has a built-in touchpad, and it’s only $55. It works with Windows but some functions are apparently flaky, as it’s not really advertised as being compatible. I then realized that I hate touchpads and would not want to use one daily anyway, even if meant having only one attractive board near my couch.
I was torn between wireless keyboard/mouse combos, but all have received their share of mixed reviews and most are three or so years old. Microsoft’s Wireless Desktop 3000 is nice, but the keyboard has some shortcomings, and its price went up as I deliberated to near $60. Then a Slickdeal rolled along (which might still be available, by the way) with a Logitech diNovo wireless keyboard – a $99 value, usually selling for around $75 – for only $19 after a $30 rebate, from several resellers. Too good to pass up, I jumped on it and it’s actually a very nice keyboard, and very stylish, if you’re into that kind of thing. The batteries are supposed to last 3 years, so that’s a plus.
I wanted to be able to do some gaming without needing to be at the desk, so I needed a good mouse. I had a Logitech mx510, which is not wireless, but wired is the way to go for gaming anyway. So I got another $5, 15 foot USB extension cable (male to female) from Amazon to use the mouse at a distance. Again, not too pretty, but effective. I set the keyboard and mouse on a wooden drawer from an old desk and now I’m writing this article while on my back. I may still get a new mouse, but I don’t have to.
Thoughts and Conclusions
This is a pretty strong usage environment, with minimal cordage visible in the middle of the room. I spent a total of $35 and, although I’m not completely cord-free, this will work and it leaves me enough money to cut those cords in the future, if I desire. I still wish there was a good, inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard/mouse combo with rechargeable batteries, the mouse being laser and at least decent for gaming. But there is not. So any configuration will result in settling in some places, but there’s really no missing sitting at the desk.