Tablets failed to kill the trusty keyboard
Reports of the death of the computer mouse and keyboard has been greatly exaggerated.
Rather than kill off the traditional human input devices, necessary since the dawn of personal computing, the advent of the tablet computer, with its touchscreen keyboard, has inspired the next generation of peripherals.
Microsoft unveiled half a dozen new keyboards and mice in Auckland last week, all designed with tablets running Microsoft's touch-sensitive Windows 8 operating system in mind.
Windows 8, designed primarily for tablets and smartphones with no keyboards or mice, will also run on non-touch enabled notebook and desktop computers.
Research shows that global tablet sales are expected to reach 375 million by 2016, putting 760 million tablets in the hands of consumers around the world.
The Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse ($99, left), shaped like a wedge, is about quarter of the size of a standard mouse. As well as having a clickable button stroking the mouse with one, two or three fingers makes the computer react differently. A one-finger swipe moves the cursor up or down, or side to side. A two-finger gesture switches between applications, shows application commands and manages applications.
A three-finger gesture enables zooming. Thumb gestures are used to navigate backward and forward in applications.
It connects via Bluetooth, a technology built around shortwave radio signals, so does not require a USB port so long as the computer has a built-in Bluetooth receiver.
The Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse ($79), delivered in a more traditional mouse shape, delivers the same functionality as the Wedge Touch Mouse.
Microsoft's Touch portfolio of mice are all sloped at 23 degrees, as the designers found it was the ideal slope for comfort and fluid touch scrolling.
The Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard ($129, right) is an ultra slim Bluetooth keyboard designed to complement the Wedge Touch Mouse. It comes with a durable rubber cover which folds open to create a tablet stand. Its keys include the Windows 8 Charms - search, share, connect, settings, and start.
The Microsoft Sculpt Mobile Keyboard ($99) is more of a standard-sized Bluetooth keyboard, but at less than three-quarters of an inch thick is more portable than a standard keyboard. It, too, includes Windows 8 Charms.
The Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Curve keyboard, also launched last week, is a more traditional keyboard which connects via USB but also includes the Windows 8 Charms keys.
The new range will hit New Zealand stores next month, ahead of Windows 8's release on October 26 and will also work with Windows 7 (although the Charm buttons will be useless). They will also work with Android and Apple devices with Bluetooth connectivity.
Jamieson Yu, Microsoft's Singapore-based director of hardware retail sales and marketing, said the Wedge Touch Mouse was built on the Microsoft Arc series of mice.
MICROSOFT HARDWARE GROUP TURNS 30
The Microsoft Hardware Group marked its 30th anniversary with a new Windows 8 range.
It was formed in 1982 charged with creating the first mouse compatible with the Microsoft Word word processor. The mouse shipped a year later.
Microsoft Mouse 2.0, the first ergonomic mouse, came a decade later followed by the Natural Keyboard, Microsoft's first ergonomic keyboard.
Microsoft threw out the rubber rollers in its mice in 1999, replacing them with optical scanners.
The world's first Bluetooth desktop, comprising a mouse and keyboard, followed from Microsoft in 2002. LifeCam webcams and Lifechat headsets debuted in 2006.
The folding Arc Mouse and BlueTrack technology, which works on virtually any surface, came in 2008.
The ultra slim Arc Keyboard, weighing in at less than half a kilogram, followed in 2010 along with the Arc Touch Mouse on which the new range of Touch hardware is based.
The Touch Mouse, which followed in 2011, was Microsoft's first multi-touch device designed for Windows 7. A Windows 8 version is on the way.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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