Many of us were taken by surprise with the Microsoft Surface tablets when they were revealed, specifically the very creative keyboard and cover combination they created for it. This design was a result of many years of work and brings a needed functionality combining a cover with a keyboard for Microsoft Surface users. I think it may have gotten as much attention as the tablet itself.
Well Microsoft Hardware announced today four new offerings in the mobile computing arena, all built with Windows 8 in mind, that continue this very unique design/functionality marriage.
Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard
The Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard has a durable cover that not only protects your keyboard from scratches but also quickly converts into a tablet stand. When you’re done using it, simply snap the cover back on the keyboard to power it down before you stash it in your bag. The keyboard also uses the latest in Bluetooth technology, so you can wirelessly connect to your tablet without a cable or transceiver. (US $79.95)
The new Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse packs full functionality into a stylish, compact frame that’s great for your mobile lifestyle. Small enough to fit in your pocket, the Wedge Touch Mouse complements your Windows experience in all its forms, providing four-way Touch scrolling and navigation at your fingertips. Plus, it features BlueTrack Technology, so you can use it on virtually any surface, whether you’re in a conference room, a coffee shop or at home on your couch. (US $69.95)
I am really looking forward to these devices so I can add them to my Windows 8 tablet, the Acer Iconia Tab W500 and I have a couple of reasons for this:
- They are both Bluetooth based for connectivity which means I can remove the USB transceivers that I currently use to connect my traveling mouse and keyboard to the tablet. On the Acer Iconia Tab W500 those two USB ports are on the bottom of the tablet so they interfere with things at times.
- I went through a pretty significant search to find a way to have a stand for my Windows 8 tablet. If you check out my post Physical Desktop Mode with a Windows 8 Tablet: The Perfect Stand you will see what I currently use. Although that setup is very functional, I love the idea of having that stand integrated into the keyboard cover as it eliminates one more piece I have to take with me when I go mobile.
The other two devices announced are much more conventional devices although they are made to be functional in their own unique way as well.
The Bluetooth-enabled Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse (US$49.95) is finely tuned for use with Windows 8, including a four-way touch scroll strip for navigating up and down, left and right, and swiping through windows and documents.
The Bluetooth-enabled Microsoft Sculpt Mobile Keyboard (US$49.95) is sturdy, but just over one pound and ideal for travel. It has a Comfort Curve design to position hands and wrists naturally, and a battery saving mode that powers the keyboard down after a period of inactivity (and wakes it up again with the tap of a key).
The last part of today’s announcements is that the Microsoft Touch Mouse, which is currently available, will get updated drivers/software that will optimize its touch functionality to work well with Windows 8 and the new navigation it introduces. This type of a mouse could very well make a huge difference in the functionality of Windows 8 on a non-touch desktop PC.
As I mentioned on Episode 58 of the Observed Tech PODCAST this past weekend, I have found that this mouse is quite uncomfortable for my use and it also lacks middle click functionality which distracts from its usefulness. I hope the updated software will return this very important option to the mouse.