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Cherry is not a brand one typically associates with wireless desktop sets. The average user probably identifies the brand with high quality switches used in various high-end mechanical keyboards. Cherry attempts to change this with their newly released B.Unlimited 3.0 wireless desktop set.
The B.Unlimited 3.0 is a desktop set that is aimed at general consumers, and yet incorporates some features with regards to durability that are not typically found in this market. The unit connects to the PC via a 2.4GHz RF wireless dongle that can be connected to a USB port. To secure this wireless connection from potential hijackers, the transmitter and receivers come with a unique 128-bit AES key that is used to decrypt the encrypted transferred data. This also means that the mouse and keyboard only connect to the included wireless dongle. When it comes to the keyboard itself, the keycaps used in this keyboard also have laser inscriptions, and the incorporated Cherry SX switches are rated at over 20 million actuations.
Another aspect that Cherry paid attention to in particular is continuous usage. To prevent downtime as much as possible, the desktop set comes with rechargeable NiMH batteries that have a low self-discharge and a charging cable that plugs into a USB port on one end and a proprietary connection on either the keyboard or mouse. This enables the possibility to charge either the mouse or keyboard while in use.
The mouse is symmetrical and its optical sensor can be switched to either a 1000 dpi or 2000 dpi resolution by clicking both the left and right mouse simulataneously, and scrolling the wheel up and down to increase and decrease the resulotion respectively.
The wireless set is rated to function with a range up to 10 m, although this also depends on whether there are walls or in particular metallic structures between the transmitter / receiver pair.
Now that we've covered the main features of the product, let's look at the design of the mouse and keyboard in more detail.
First of all, we have the mouse. As mentioned earlier, the mouse is symmetrically shaped. It feels rather heavy for its size at 145g (batteries included), but much of this weight went into making the mouse sturdy. The mouse feels really solid, and it definitely seems like the mouse could handle quite some abuse due to the simplistic design and hard plastic material that is being used. There is a red LED below the battery icon that turns on when the mouse is charging and off when discharging or when it is not plugged in.
The scroll wheel and the feet of the mouse also seem to be durable, although you can feel some drag on the bottom sliders when using the mouse on a hard surface. When you're done using the mouse there is also a switch to completely turn off the device in order to save battery life.
When looking at the keyboard, the first thing I noticed was the rough texture on top of the keykaps. The rough texture, coupled with the laser inscription, give the keyboard a much more premium look and feel. The layout of this review sample is the standard 105 key UK layout with 4 additional keys for special functions (starting the calculator and mail applications and returning to the home screen and locking the PC). The keyboard has, much like the mouse, quite some weight to it for its size at 0.88kg. This is not a bad thing at all, since it adds to the robustness of the keyboard, so that despite its thin form factor (15 mm thickness), it stands firmly on top of the desk, has no flex, doesn't make creaky sounds and seems to be capable of handling some abuse as well. To save power it is also possible to switch off the keyboard. This switch is located at the front side next to the power connector.
I do have to note however that aside from the stellar build quality of the casing and keycaps, my particular review sample did have a problem with the K key that made it fail to register sometimes unless pressed all the way down with more force. This is most likely caused by some flex in the membrane below this key. None of the other keys have this problem, so my guess would be that this is a flaw in the manufacturing process.
The size of the keys are also standard, which along with the 105 + 4 key layout makes this keyboard quite wide at 46 cm. The set requires 2 USB ports if you also want to charge the keyboard or mouse while in use. Otherwise, only a single port is necessary. The dongle is quite large, which makes it a bit clunky when plugged into a laptop. This is by no means a deal breaker, but I would have preferred to a see a more low profile dongle.
The last point I would have wanted to focus on was battery life, since Cherry does not specify a rating for how long you can typically expect the battery in either the keyboard or mouse to last. However, in the full week that I have tested this desktop set I have not seen the battery run low enough for the indicator to signal the need for a recharge. This was without switching the set off and carrying it around during my commutes. I think I can safely say that this set will last for long enough for general use cases.
In this section I would like to share my experiences regarding the ergonomics and performance of this set in typical use case scenarios.
Let's start with the mouse. My first impression was that the mouse felt rather high quality for what I was used to in a typical wireless desktop sets. The weight felt just right to me and the plastic material felt very sturdy.
When it comes to comfort and sensitivity, it is of course not the best mouse I have used, but it's also not what Cherry aims to do with this product. While the mouse feels comfortable, genarally speaking, it also feels a bit too flat and narrow compared to what I am most comfortable with. This means that in the way I grip the mouse, my index, middle and ring finger are slightly arced in resting position.
As for the sensitivity of the mouse. I'd have to say that at 2000 dpi it is adequate for just about anything except of course FPS and competitive gaming. I could comfortably use it in CAD programs and even while drawing strokes in Adobe Illustrator the performance was rather good. The scroll wheel also has a good resistance to it.
Moving on to the keyboard. As mentioned earlier, the build quality of the keyboard also felt rather premium. The comfort of the keyboard was also okay, although I am personally not a big fan of the switches used here. I can, however, fully understand why they opted to go with this construction, since you can feel that this unit was built to last for a long time. Cherry also seems to cater for people who are used to laptop keyboards with low travel. To me, the keys felt solid but a bit too heavy. Fortunately, it did not feel mushy and I did like the feel of the keycap texture. The rough texture prevents the keys from feeling sticky after typing on them for extended writing sessions.
Compared to competing products, this keyboard does seem to be on the small side vertically speaking, since it lacks a palm rest. Personally I don't miss this, but this might be an important factor for some. I did however also miss some media keys, although the function keys can be programmed to fulfill this task with Cherry's KeyM@n software in Windows.
Finally, I will now assign a score to the B.Unlimited based on 3 criteria: the build quality of the set, the ergonomics and value of the product.
The build quality can only be described as stellar. These devices were really built to last, which is refreshing to see in this market. You can see that quite some work went into the design of this product to make it as durable as possible. From the plastic material used for the casings, to the texture and inscription of the keycaps, as well as the battery life of the product. The size of the wireless dongle, however, was not really ideal, and my sample had flex below the K key, so I'll deduct 0.5 pts for that.
Cherry focused a lot on build quality with this set, which is something I definitely don't disagree with, but I think that it takes away some of the comfort of the keyboard. I would have preferred some lighter switches that are less fatiguing, although this is also a matter of personal preference. Unlike many competing products, Cherry also offers a product that is more work oriented rather than general purpose. This could be a decisive factor that will either make or break the deal for some users. The mouse is also very functional, maybe a little plain and nothing too fancy, but solidly built. I do however think that the shape could have been better to provide better ergonomics. All in all, this is still a good set that I would definitely recommend to anyone in search of a durable set who needs to spend many hours working behind it.
The MSRP of the B.Unlimited 3.0 is currently 70 EUR on the European market (Amazon DE | UK). There is a model with a US layout (though the dollar sign is replaced with a euro sign), but at the moment of writing this review it is not available outside of Europe. Now, when it comes to value, it becomes a bit more difficult to classify this product. As we have seen, this product delivers a lot in build quality and durability, while competing products like the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort and, for example, the Logitech MK620 focus more on aesthetics and comfort. I personally value build quality a lot, and for that end this product offers a lot of bang for buck (laser inscription, durable and rechargeable batteries, 2000 dpi and a durable keycap texture). It does however lack a palm rest, dedicated media keys and some of the attention Microsoft and Logitech paid to ergonomics. As of such, I have decided to take the average of the scores I would give the set for both uses cases.
As final score we then end up with a solid 4 flames for the B.Unlimited 3.0
Official Manufacturer Photos (Click to show)
Edited by TheBlademaster01 - 8/24/17 at 3:09am