Cherry B.UNLIMITED 3.0 Keyboard and Mouse Review

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Introduction

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If I was to tell you that today’s review is for a Cherry product, yes, the same brand that is responsible for the unbeatable switch that is incorporated on every top-tier mechanical keyboard, you might be expecting to read about a new mechanical keyboard – perhaps even a brand new mechanical switch – and certainly some RGB glory. However none of those things feature in this article at all, because regardless of the company’s pedigree, we are looking at a wireless keyboard and mouse combo that’s firmly set in the professional laptop-replacement league.

Even though my initial excitement about the product was quickly quenched, this scissor-switch on a membrane base keyboard and its rodent cohort are still a product of that famous engineering company so it should be awesome at the very least and perhaps even as good as ‘utterly brilliant’. We shall see… but first a list of the key benefits as found on Cherry’s website and then please join me for a good look around the B.UNLIMITED 3.0 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse set.

Key Benefits:

  • Durable abrasion-proof laser inscription of key caps
  • USB cable charging function for both keyboard & mouse – even when in use
  • Designed for continuous usage – over 20 mill. confirmations per key
  • High-quality, pre-charged NiMH batteries from GP with a very low self-discharge
  • Almost interference-free wireless 2.4 GHz technology (range of up to 10 metres)
  • Data transmission using 128-bit encryption, complying to Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
  • Multi-station capability operation of several wireless products in one room
  • 3-button mouse: infrared sensor and adjustable resolution (1,000/2,000 dpi) with ergonomic side panels
  • Easy to install, requiring no technical knowledge
  • Keyboard awarded the “Blauer Engel” environmental seal

Closer Look

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To say that the box is plain would be an understatement, no graphics of any kind, no slogans or indeed anything to show off the benefits of the product, simply the name and the Cherry branding.

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If you were expecting things to change around the back of the box then you will be in for a shock, again we are greeted with the model name and cherry branding but this time we have the addition of the all-important regulatory marks, though surprisingly still nothing on the lines of features or a photo. If you are looking at buying this, you are expected to know in advance what you’re getting.

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Once we break into the packaging we get to finally see the product in all its glory. In total we have the keyboard and mouse, a single charging cable to share between both items – and it’s proprietary. We also have the 2.4Ghz wireless USB receiver and finally a product manual.

cherry-b-unlimited-3-0-keyboard-topLooking at the B.UNLIMITED keyboard first we see that it’s a full size monolithic block of black plastic with tramlines added to break up the stark effect. The keys are laser printed in white with their appropriate characters and if you look closely at the top row you will notice that they have done away with the function buttons entirely. Additional detail is presented by way of Cherry branding under the space bar and the B.UNLIMITED name in the top right corner. The only added functionality is the calculator, email, home and lock buttons above the number pad, otherwise is is simply austere and purposefully businesslike. The only LED on the keyboard comes in the form of a charging/battery indicator above the calculator key.

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The keyboard has a gentle gradient that we can see from the side view, but otherwise both ends are fairly plain.

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Around the back of the keyboard we get to the on/off switch and that proprietary charging port, nothing else at all, so moving on…

cherry-b-unlimited-3-0-keyboard-bottomThe base of the B.UNLIMITED 3.0 at least has some features to it. We have risers on each end to change the angle and three rubber feet to keep it stable on the desk. Nothing earth-shattering or life changing here. cherry-b-unlimited-3-0-keyboard-bottom-label-batteryThe label on the base again shows us those conformity marks that we saw earlier along with the power rating, part and serial numbers.

 

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Moving on to the B.UNLIMITED mouse, and it’s more of that businesslike austerity. Two buttons and a clickable scroll wheel and the only concession is that the grooved wheel has been covered in a rubber sleeve for comfort and grip. The mouse also has a charging/battery indicator LED which we can see lit in red while the mouse is plugged in. I have yet to see it at low power so I can’t confirm the colour when it requires to be tethered again but I suspect that it will simply be a red LED rather than dual colour.

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The front of the mouse is where the tethering occurs, in the traditional way of the corded mouse, and you get a clearer impression of the shape of the cable that you must never lose.

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Austerity is the theme of the day with nothing at all to mention on the side of the mouse except a vague shell motif to give grip and perhaps something to look for if you need to talk about the mouse.

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Around the other side the pattern of grooves is repeated but this time with the Cherry branding.

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Underneath the mouse we see the laser sensor as well as the on/off switch and a load of labels. Some of these are a repeat of the one on the base of the keyboard with the addition of an indicator for the change of DPI between 1000 and 2000dpi, which is accomplished with both buttons pressed and then rotating the wheel in the chosen direction.

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Specifications

Transmission range:

  • approx. 10 m

Frequency range:

  • 2.400 GHz – 2.4835 GHz
Weight (product):

approx. 883 g (keyboard with batteries)
approx. 145 g (mouse with batteries)
approx. 6 g (receiver)

Total weight (with packaging):

approx. 1300 g

Storage Temperature:

  • -20°C to 60°C

Operating Temperature:

  • 0°C to 40°C

Current Consumption:

  • max. 5 mA (keyboard)
  • max. 5 mA (mouse)
  • max. 30 mA (receiver)

Warranty:

  • 2 years

Interface:

  • USB

Connection sockets:

  • Low voltage socket for USB charging cable

System requirements:

  • USB port for wireless receiver (second free USB port for using the charger cable during operation)

Delivery Volume:

  • 1 signal receiver
  • USB charger cable
  • Operating instructions in hard copy
  • 1 optical wireless mouse
  • 1 wireless keyboard
  • 2 LSD NiMH batteries (type AAA)
  • 2 LSD NiMH batteries (type AA)

Dimensions (product):

  • approx. 460 x 165 x 15 mm (keyboard)
  • approx. 115 x 60 x 35 mm (mouse)
  • approx. 42 x 18 x 8 mm (receiver)

Packaging dimensions:

  • approx. 570 x 170 x 45 mm

Keyboard:

  • Key technology: SX
  • Service life, standard key: > 10 million key operations
  • Inscription layout: Standard
  • Number of Keys: Product dependant, see table “Models”

Mouse:

  • Scanning: Infrared
  • Resolution: 1000 / 2000 dpi (adjustable)
  • Number of Keys: 3
  • Mouse wheel design: Scroll wheel with key function
  • Design: Symmetrical,
  • Connection: wireless
  • Housing colour: Product dependant, see table “Models”
  • Key colour: Product dependant, see table “Models”

Performance

It’s probably best to start off by clarifying the type of user that the B.UNLIMITED 3.0 is designed for. We’re certainly not talking about the professional eSports athlete here, but perhaps more the professional accountant. Someone who needs to use a laptop pretty much all day but when not travelling between clients wants the benefit of a full size keyboard and proper pointing device.

The keys have a very shallow range and actuation point, and they are a little bouncy when you hit the ‘pop’ that triggers the electronics behind the membrane. As a result, double activation of a key are a familiar occurrence until you become accustomed to typing on it – especially if you are use to a mechanical keyboard with full range when the keys are depressed. This double bump seemed to be particularly prevalent on the space bar but after almost a week of testing they eventually died out altogether. I suspect that if I was moving from and between a standard laptop keyboard with similar shallow actuation point and similar membrane build that this would not have been a problem at all. Luckily my desktop PC died during testing so I was able to use the B.UNLIMITED 3.0 as I believe it was intended, replacing the case-based keyboard of my Windows tablet so I could type on something more appropriate and comfortable. And what a difference it made!

By giving me wireless freedom from my wireless device I was no longer hunched over a compact keyboard the size of a small pamphlet with my nose 30cm from the screen, but instead I could position both the screen and the peripherals more ergonomically, reducing eye strain and neck strain in a single hit. That wasn’t the only benefit, the full size keyboard gave the benefits of number pad as well as cursor keys with some limited shortcut keys thrown in without having to use a function button (something I have always disliked with private passion). Being able to use a mouse instead of the highly sensitive touch pad gave me another ergonomic benefit, though one of convenience rather than medical comfort – the ability to click and drag without having to use both hands.

Having heard the complaints of my sister for my entire life about the pitfalls of being left-handed I’ll accept the loss of thumb buttons with good grace since the mouse is truly southpaw friendly. This isn’t by any means a gaming setup anyway so extra buttons on the mouse or keyboard for macros and shortcuts would have been out of place. Of course I wasn’t going to let a dead PC and the product’s specifications stop me from breaking out Steam and having a game of something… or ANYTHING! I needed my fix and my tablet and the B.UNLIMITED 3.0 would simply have to be good enough. Considering the hardware at my disposal I wasn’t going to get far playing an MMO or FPS game so I enjoyed a leisurely game of Icewind Dale and although there was not much involved to tax the keyboard at least the mouse got a bit of a workout. The sensor proved just as accurate in gaming at 1440p on a 12″ screen (there was no option to change it to something more reasonable) as when using the tablet for office based tasks. I didn’t have to pause the game every round to be able to click new targets as they massacred my group during the first hour or so of getting back into the game before I restarted for a proper playthrough.

With my gaming fix satisfied it was back to work, namely editing the photos for this review, another chore for the B.UNLIMITED mouse more so than the keyboard. I could wax lyrical on how the cursor flowed between points of dust to be removed, finding its mark like a master archer, but I hate photo editing and I can’t bring myself to glorify it. I will simply say that the mouse performed admirably and was accurate enough for the task to be less infuriating than some others I’ve tried in the past.

The inclusion of only one cable baffled me to the point that I sent an email to Cherry to ask them if they had made a packing error. After all, I would have to charge both keyboard and mouse at least for the first usage, and then they were bound to run out together at the least convenient moment and I’d have to wait for one to finish charging to tether the other one. Actually no. With the mouse designed to last for 205 hours in between charges and the keyboard a massive 273 hours the chance of them both running out at the same time is pretty negligible, and there is a warning light on both the mouse and keyboard (that I have yet to see in action apart from when on charge) to tell you to plug the item in again. The choice for the charging cable to be a bespoke one though rather than microUSB or some other widely used variant completely baffled me, and the reply from Cherry made me doubt the future for all mankind. They came back to me and said that “they had a set with micro-USB charging in the past and too many customers thought the set was cabled because of it“. You simply can’t engineer for that level of dumb, or maybe you can by only including one cable and making it bespoke. Speaking of the long battery life, there’s no RGB flair or indeed any backlighting on either peripheral in the B.UNLIMITED set. In fact, there is no lighting at all not even the really useful caps and num lock indicators. Just the battery warning LEDs.

Although this is as simplistic a keyboard and mouse set as I’ve ever encountered, you can download [email protected] software from the Cherry support website to customise it a little bit. The only key that you can change is the Scroll Lock, however you have full access to change it to a macro, program or webpage shortcut or key assignment.

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Conclusion

Performance

After a little time acclimatising to the keyboard having moved from a mechanical one, the B.UNLIMITED worked like a charm. Freedom from wires, freedom of movement and the comfort of a full size keyboard all pull together for a product that performs seamlessly. As for the mouse it simply worked from the moment it was turned on. No irritation trying to get the pair to pair or software to trouble us… it all worked properly and instantly as soon as the 2.4Ghz dongle was connected to the computer or tablet.

Design

The uncluttered design of the B.UNLIMITED Wireless Keyboard and Mouse is one I really like. I miss the backlighting that means I can game in the dark but then this isn’t a gaming product, it’s a productivity design for real work to be carried out without any interruptions like charging every 12 hours or nonsense like that. I think they could have sacrificed some of the enormous battery life to accommodate num and caps lock LEDs which would have been helpful but even with that small concern everything else is awesome.

Perhaps the main feature of the design is one that I haven’t been able to test – that’s the 128 bit encryption which complies with Advanced Encryption Standard or AES between the keyboard and mouse and the wireless receiver. At least I am safe in the knowledge that no wireless snooper will be able to decrypt my taps into text and my drags into doodles.

Value

This is a hard one for me to validate. The only version of the B.UNLIMITED 3.0 that I have found online is the German version and that’s retailing at around £95.00. That’s a massive amount to pay if you simply want a wireless desktop, but the engineering that’s gone into this set to provide seamless connectivity without reliance on software and drivers, the insane battery life of both mouse and keyboard, the simple, uncluttered lines of the full size keyboard all add to the value. They don’t all add enough to the value so the remainder will be down to personal preference and your requirement for AES security when working on your or your client’s files. I feel that the price is strong, but then it is a new product, and the price almost always goes down over time. If I saw it on offer for around £65 I would snap it up, but I don’t really deal with anything more sensitive than online banking. For someone working on high level projects with massive amounts invested or if secrecy and security at a premium then I could see someone paying the asking price without complaint.

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

Pros:

- Works first time, every time regardless of device,
- Incredible battery performance,
- Truly ambidextrous,
- AES security,

Cons:

- Expensive for the average user,
- Stark design (not in the Game of Thrones sense),

3.8

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