Microsoft has announced some new keyboards and mice to celebrate its 30th anniversary. These new devices are said to be specially designed and finely tuned for use with Windows 8, due shortly. There are two new keyboards and two new mouse designs in the announcement, falling into two families; the Wedge family and the Sculpt family. All the devices use Bluetooth to communicate with your device, no transponder is included with these input devices, they rely upon you using a device with Bluetooth built in.
Wedge Mobile Keyboard ($80)
“Designed specifically for tablet users” who are “tired of trying to type on the tablet screen”. This keyboard is ultra-slim and has built in Windows 8 hotkeys and media keys, yet is minimal in design providing an easy to carry “full-sized touch keyset”. This keyboard comes with a carry cover which doubles as a tablet stand.
Wedge Touch Mouse ($70)
This new mouse design provides four way touch scrolling and navigation “into a stylish, compact frame that’s great for your mobile lifestyle”. The Wedge Touch Mouse “features BlueTrack Technology, so you can use it on virtually any surface”. Battery saving features include powering down automatically in sync with your paired computer’s sleep mode.
Sculpt Mobile Keyboard ($50)
This is again an ultra-slim design yet uses the Comfort Curve design to aid ergonomic wrist posture. Predictably the keyboard features Windows 8 hotkeys. It weights about half a kilo, so it’s easy to carry around without fatigue. The Sculpt Mobile Keyboard has a battery life of around 10 months and a two colour battery life indicator built in.
Sculpt Touch Mouse ($50)
A much more conventional and ergonomic looking mouse than the Wedge Touch Mouse above. It has a four way touch control strip “you can breeze up and down, left and right, and through applications and documents with a simple finger swipe, making it great for navigating the Windows 8 Start screen”. Again this mouse uses BlueTrack technology which works without problems on many more different kinds of surfaces than your common or garden optical mouse.
Good looks and mobility?
All the input devices have been designed to complement mobile touch-screen devices. On both the keyboards Windows 8 shortcuts are provided for search, sharing, changing settings and device access. The mice are both “designed to have the same precision, control, and fluid interaction a customer would have if they were using a touch screen” according to the Microsoft News Centre blog.
The devices seem pretty expensive looking at the suggested retail prices above. The Wedge Mobile Keyboard is particularly expensive, possibly due to the included carry cover with tablet stand functionality. Microsoft industrial design manager, Young Kim, seeks to mitigate the price by explaining the high level of craftsmanship and materials utilised in the input devices. “When we use authentic materials, we’re able to connect with customers in a way that’s more than just appearance level. It’s a level of authenticity and pride in craftsmanship that you would expect from very high-end jewellery that you can get in consumer electronics”. In my opinion the most unexpected of these four devices is the Wedge Touch Mouse which looks like a step backward in ergonomics in order to attain a certain eye-catching style. Apple committed a similar style over functionality sin with the original much hated iMac circular puck mouse.