On the road with handy gadgets

Here now: The Microsoft Wedge Mobile
keyboard and the Wedge Touch mouse.
Here now: The Microsoft Wedge Mobile keyboard and the Wedge Touch mouse.

The last thing I'd usually want is a wedgie.

But Microsoft has changed that with the recent launch of its Wedge Touch mouse and Wedge Mobile keyboard in this country.

They're designed for the new Microsoft Windows computers and connect via Bluetooth radio.

Neither come with a USB dongle, so you can only use them with computers with a Bluetooth receiver to plug into your computer. But if you want to give them a try on older computer hardware that does not have Bluetooth technology built-in, you can buy a Bluetooth receiver that plugs into the computer's USB slot.

There are only two things you need to know about the Microsoft Wedge Touch mouse.

Firstly it's in the shape of a wedge and secondly it's a touch mouse.

The higher part of the wedge sits under your knuckles while your fingers touch the downwards slope of the mouse, which is one big clickable button capable of handling both right and left clicks.

I expected this mouse to be both awkward and uncomfortable, but it was neither. After a short while it became as easy and comfortable as any other mouse I have used.

This mouse shines for its portability, as it takes very little space in a laptop bag, but if the form factor doesn't appeal to you, there are more compact models available that fold flat. My favourite remains the Microsoft Arc Touch mouse that resembles a phaser from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Ahead of the Surface tablet, still to be released here, the Wedge Mobile keyboard might just be the trendiest piece of hardware Microsoft has ever released.

At 25 centimetres by 10cm, it's a portable keyboard that does not take up much room in your computer bag. It's designed with Windows 8 tablets in mind and, in my book, is far preferable to the onscreen touch keyboard.

The rubber cover on the front pops off to reveal the keyboard below. The cover then folds into an L shape to make a tablet stand.

The keyboard includes five dedicated Windows 8 keys that bring up what Microsoft is calling "the corresponding charm" in Windows 8.

They are Search, Share, Devices and Settings that share the F5 to F8 keys. The Start charm is accessed by pressing the Windows key at the bottom left of the keyboard.

It has a minimalist feel about it which is perfect for when you are on the road.

It will also work with any Bluetooth capable hardware, such as my HP Mini 110 netbook which is running Windows 7 Ultimate.

When you've finished the cover straightens and pops back on, powering the keyboard off in the process. Both Wedge devices are powered by a couple of AAA batteries and the Wedge keyboard works with Apple and Android devices too.


Follow me on Twitter @CHRISGARDNERNZ

Waikato Times