Hardware Reviews

Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 review: Is it time to dump your keyboard and mouse?

Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 review
While Cherry says the batteries are NiMh, we know they're secretly powered by magic

I know where I sit on the spectrum of keyboard bores. Not quite out there with the people who wax lyrical about the IBM mechanical keyboard of their youth, but you definitely don’t want me to start talking about ThinkPads once I’ve sunk a craft beer or two. I’m particular about my keyboards, so when Cherry offered me a review sample of its Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 wireless mouse and keyboard set –  well, I could hardly say no.

Not one to rush such things, I’ve been using the B.Unlimited 3.0 for more than three months. Certainly enough time to develop a view on the aspects I love – and the things I don’t love quite so much.

Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 review: the keyboard

Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 review keyboard
Everything about this keyboard is designed to last, including those laser-engraved keys

Like Theresa May when facing a particularly tricky John Humphrys question, let me be clear: I don’t love this keyboard. But if I’m separated from it for a few days, I do start to miss it. Why?

Pressing some keyboards’ keys is like tapping rice pudding, whereas here they spring back to position with the speed and precision of an eager army cadet. But that harshness is also its downfall: the best keyboards return to position like a piano key, with a weighted calm, whereas here there’s no messing about.

Some people will like that, but it’s what makes me say that I like rather than love the B.Unlimited 3.0’s keyboard. (For aficionados of Cherry keyboards, it uses SX technology rather than the MX technology I prefer.) I also prefer a quieter keyboard, but I’m being picky here because its noise is far from annoying. You can judge for yourself, because I embed a sound clip below: the first few seconds are the keyboard, followed by a few clicks of the mouse. Wild times.

I can’t fault the Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 keyboard for build quality, which shouldn’t be surprising when you consider that Cherry is a German brand and they take such things rather seriously. For instance, there are no stickers on this keyboard, despite it being a British variant of an international design – many lesser manufacturers will keep the same keyboard layout but adapt to different languages via stickers. Here, every key has its letter engraved by laser.

There’s little to say about it otherwise. All the keys are sensibly placed and sensibly large, with a sensible numeric keyboard with a sensible lack of function doubling. The only nods to frivolity are shortcut keys for Calculator, email, your home page and the Windows lock key. Oh, you crazy Germans.

Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 review: the mouse

Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 review mouse
The Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 mouse is designed for lefties and well as righties

Remember what I said about no frills? Well, the same goes for the mouse. There’s one nod to excitement: you can switch it from 1,000dpi to 2,000dpi, should the urge take you.

Alongside the left- and right-mouse clicks you can press down on the scroll wheel to activate the usual quick-scroll functions, but this mouse’s main positive is its contoured shape – it feels natural under the hand. With a symmetrical design, it’s equally suited to left-handers as it is to righties.

I was previously testing a rather lovely Logitech M330 Silent Mouse, so it took me a while to get used to the Cherry’s clicks. They’re louder and sharper than I’d like. Still, get used to them I did. You can make your own call as to whether they’re annoying or not by listening to the audio above; the mouse clicks come in at the end.

Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 review: battery life

Having used this wireless keyboard and mouse set for the best part of three months, I hadn’t even considered battery life. I think I imagined they ran on magic. Only now have I opened the box to discover a USB charging cable.

This is proprietary (it’s a good thing I didn’t throw away the box in a fit of office-cleaning fervour), ending in a tiny circular connector that inserts into the charging slot within the mouse or keyboard. This means you can still use both when the charge eventually dissipates.

The flipside to this is a lack of lights: both the mouse and keyboard only have one light, which is to indicate when the battery is low. While this means the only way to tell if Caps Lock is activated is to start typing, that’s a sacrifice I’m happy to make.

Another reason for this set’s extraordinary battery life is, I suspect, that the B.Unlimited 3.0 uses 2.4GHz RF technology to communicate rather than Bluetooth. This means you need the partnering dongle inserted into your laptop or PC for it to work.

Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 review: verdict

While this does make connection simple, I resent the loss of a USB port and also find it disappointing that the dongle sticks out by 3.3cm. By contrast, Logitech’s dongles only jut out by 0.8cm.

This emphasises that Cherry’s wireless set isn’t designed for mobile use. You’re meant to stick it on your desk and use it, day after day.

Which is what this set is all about: no glamour, no fancy features, no stylistic flourishes, just a rock-solid keyboard that will give you stunning battery life and last for years. While it isn’t cheap at almost £80 with delivery, that longevity means it’s still good value.

I don’t love the Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 keyboard and mouse set. But I do like it a lot.

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis.

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