Microsoft debuts Wedge Touch Mouse and Mobile Keyboard for Windows 8
Microsoft's Surface tablet has received praise and only light criticism since its introduction a month ago. The innovative tablet addresses one of the biggest issues that computer professionals have when it comes to touch-based devices: the lack of a physical keyboard.
But Surface is not the only product that Microsoft will be making available to accommodate the launch of much-anticipated Windows 8. The company just announced the availability of four hardware peripherals that have been specifically designed for the next version of Windows.
The Wedge Touch Mouse and Wedge Mobile Keyboard are top-of-the-line products designed for use with tablets and mobile devices.
Probably the most interesting product of the series is the Wedge Mobile Keyboard, a full-sized compact keyboard that uses Bluetooth to communicate with laptop or tablet. And just like Microsoft's Surface, the peripheral introduces an interesting feature that makes it stand out from the bulk of wireless keyboards, literally. The cover of the keyboard converts into a tablet stand that allows you to position the tablet in an upright position when you work with it on a desk or another flat surface.
When you look at the keyboard layout, you will notice that Microsoft has mapped hotkeys that activate Windows 8's Charms menu to the F5 to F8 keys of the keyboard. The four keys make available the search, share, devices and settings Charm menu items, with the Metro startpage Charm still mapped to the Windows key.
The Wedge Touch Mouse looks different than any other mouse that you may have worked with in the last couple of years. It is a small lightweight device that only offers enough space to rest two of your fingers. It has no physical scroll wheel, and scrolling is handled using gestures on the surface of the mouse.
The mouse features Microsoft's BlueTrack technology, which makes it usable on nearly every surface you place it on. And just like the keyboard, the mouse uses Bluetooth to communicate with the computer.
Another interesting feature that Microsoft has integrated into both products: Backpack Mode, which syncs with the computer's sleep mode. When the computer is put into sleep mode, the mouse and keyboard power down as well, to extend the battery life.
The Sculpt Series
The Sculpt Mobile Keyboard features a Comfort Curve design that helps position the wrists and hands in a natural resting position. It too establishes connections via Bluetooth and features hotkeys for the Windows 8 Charms menu, just like the Wedge Mobile Keyboard does.
Microsoft makes no mention of a cover in the press release, but likely it will ship without one.
The Sculpt Touch Mouse finally uses a regular design that is complemented by a four-way touch scroll strip. It connects via Bluetooth and ships with the same power-saving technologies that the other products ship with.
Microsoft Touch Mouse
Microsoft's existing Touch Mouse will receive an update that supporting new Windows 8 specific gestures:
- One-finger swipes to move up or down, or from side to side
- Two-finger gestures to switch between apps, show app commands or manage apps
- Three finger zooming
- Thumb gestures to navigate backward and forward in apps
The Wedge Touch Mouse and Wedge Mobile Keyboard will have an estimated retail price of $69.95 and $79.95, respectively, while the Sculpt Touch Mouse and Sculpt Mobile Keyboard an estimated retail price of $49.95 each.
The Wedge Mobile Keyboard is the product that I'd personally be most interested in as it combines a physical keyboard with a tablet stand. If I would not have my eyes fixed on the Surface tablet, I'd definitely consider getting a Wedge keyboard for a Windows 8 tablet, if it would ship without a physical keyboard of its own.
The Wedge Mobile Mouse, on the other hand looks, completely alien at first glance, and while it certainly may have its appeal, I can't really convince myself to give the mouse a try.
Are you interested in any of the products personally? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below.
Photo Credits: Microsoft