Aside from adding more buttons and tweaking the ergonomics, there hasn't been a ton of innovation when it comes to the actual design of the computer mouse. That's part of what made Apple's announcement of its multitouch Magic Mouse so interesting, even if you couldn't see yourself using one. And judging by Microsoft's recent prototypes, multitouch rodents could become the next fad in PC peripherals.
"If the [traditional] mouse pointer is your virtual fingertip, we're giving you a virtual hand," says Dan Rosenfeld, a researcher with Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group in Redmond, WA.
Rosenfeld points out that multitouch surfaces exist for tabletops, computer monitors, and smartphones, but "there's really nothing addressing the kind of tasks that lots of people do all day long, sitting in front of a desk at a computer."
This is where Microsoft's prototypes come in. The funky designs look different than any computer mouse you've seen before, and that's the whole point - they are different. Microsoft's Articulated Mouse, for example, comes with finger rests for your thumb and index finger. Three optical sensors then track your movement in each of the two arms of the mouse and the main base.
But the question remains: Is there even a market for multitouch mice? Apple and Microsoft seem hellbent on finding out.
We're not sure how we would envision a $1,200 mouse, but we're pretty sure it wouldn't resemble the Titanium Mouse by Intelligent Design. Yet that's how much the Dutch outfit says their rodent is worth. So what do you get in exchange for all those ducats?
A handcrafted Bluetooth laser mouse, for starters. Intelligent Design says the body is finished in hand-formed grade 1 titanium and high-quality plastic (resin). The $1,200 rodent also integrates a 3-button neodymium scroll wheel, and how can you put a price on neodymium?
It's wireless and runs on two AAA batteries, and it boasts support for Windows XP, Vista, 7, and Mac OS X. But then again, if you have $1,200 to spare on an mouse, you could probably just hire someone to move your existing rodent for you, and fetch your lunch while you're at it.
This did, however, get us thinking. What's the most you would ever consider paying for a mouse? Hit the jump and sound off!
Whether it's your smartphone, e-book reader, or portable media player, the multi-touch trend is taking over just about every possible segment, and that now includes the computer mouse. Not surprisingly, it's Apple -- not Logitech or Microsoft -- who's able to lay claim to the world's first multi-touch mouse.
Dubbed the Magic Mouse, Apple's latest rodent comes with a single button and sports a hard acrylic multi-touch surface on the top. It also boasts wireless connectivity, a low profile design, Bluetooth, and a claimed four-month battery life.
Those who have ever navigated a Mac trackpad will feel right at home with the ability to perform two-finger swipes, but the Magic Mouse also allows single-finger horizontal and vertical scrolling and software-based inertia. What you won't find, however, is pinch-zoom support.
The Magic Mouse goes on sale today for $69 and comes standard with every new iMac.
The e-book reader market is fast becoming a crowded niche, so in order to stand out from the competition, some manufacturers are taking liberties with the basic design. Take Spring Design, for example, who on Monday announced a dual-screen e-book reader built around Google's Android platform.
"This is the start of a whole new experience of reading content on e-books, potentially igniting a whole new industry in multimedia e-book publishing for secondary authors to create supplementary content that is hyper linked to the text," said Dr. Priscilla Lu, CEO of Spring Design. "We are bringing life to books with audio, video, and annotations. This gives readers the ability to fully leverage the resources on the Web, and the tools available in search engines to augment the reading experience."
Called 'Alex,' the new e-book readers sport a 6-inch e-ink EPD display on the top portion and a 3.5-inch color LCD on the bottom. Spring Design says Android has been optimized to support integration between the two displays to prolong battery life. But what exactly is the point of the color display?
Apparently Alex owners are able to capture and cache Web content on the color display and toggle to view it on the EPD screen without taxing the battery. Users can also create their own images and notes to augment the original text.
Spring Design says it is still talking with "major content partners" and hopes to release Alex into the wild by the end of the year.
If the pen is mightier than the sword, then where does that leave Livescribe's new 4GB Pulse? Not only can you write and take notes with it, but you can record audio too. And with the new higher capacity model being added to the lineup, you can capture 400 hours worth of lectures, presentations, or whatever else it is you plan to record. Other notable specs include an audio jack, integrated speaker, OLED display, and a USB connector.
The multiplatform pen added Mac support last November, and courtesy of a recent software update, the Pulse now boasts support for Windows 7. In addition, Livescribe says it plans to add an app store for the Pulse sometime this year, though the company didn't say what kind of apps will be offered.
Available in black or silver, the new 4GB Pulse carries an MSRP of $200. As a result, the 2GB model has been knocked down to $170.
As competition starts to heat up, we don't know who -- if anyone -- will emerge as the dominant ebook player, but if judging on looks alone, Plastic Logic's new "Que" might just take the crown.
Named after the English alphabet letter and not the Spanish equivalent for "what," the sleek-looking Que has received a glossy black finish that wasn't present in previous prototypes. And while this isn't always the case in real life, the Que has more going for it than just good looks.
The Que's letter-sized 8.5 x 11 inch screen boasts a "shatterproof" design and also includes a capacitive touch layer that won't interfere with the e-ink display. Users will be able to sketch and manipulate documents with it, and on the connectivity front, the Que features AT&T 3G and WiFi.
Despite all the Que has going for it, Plastic Logic insists it isn't going after the Kindle market, and will instead focus on providing a comprehensive platform for mobile professionals.
Metadot this week launched a couple of new Das Keyboard models, including a silent version that trades in the company's famous click-action for a less audible click. But more on that in a moment.
The bigger release is the new Das Keyboard Model S. Unlike previous versions, the Model S comes packed with several new features, including media functions (control mute, volume, play/pause, stop, previous track, next track, and sleep with "simple keystrokes"), a pair of USB connectors -- one for connecting the keyboard and the other to provide power to the built-in USB hub, which can be used for charging USB devices -- an external PS/2 adapter, full n-key rollover, and compatibility with KVM switches.
Metadot is also now offering a silent version, which is somewhat ironic given that part of the Das Keyboard's claim to fame is the satisfying click action. Nevertheless, Metadot says the quieter plank tones things down with keystrokes that have a "slightly softer feel and isn't nearly as loud," but was quick to add that the quieter version still provides the type of tactile and audible feedback as its predecessors. Make of that statement what you will.
Both models will start shipping before the end of the month, however they're both also available for pre-order. The Model S sells for $129 with choice between labeled (Professional) or blank (Ultimate) keys, while its quieter companion, available only in labeled form, retails for $135.
Home entertainment company GlideTV on Tuesday announced a new device the company says combines the functionality of a keyboard, mouse, and AV remote all rolled into one.
The GlideTV Navigator, as it's being called, won the 2009 Best of Innovations Award at CES earlier this year. It includes a remote, charging station, USB wireless receiver, and works with Windows, Mac, Sony's PlayStation 3 console, and any set-top box that supports standard mouse and keyboard HID devices, the company said.
"Up to now, consumes who wanted to connect a computer to the TV to take advantage of digital content had to bring office equipment to their living room, making the experience bulky and cumbersome," said Chris Painter, President and founder. "With the Navigator, GlideTV brings simplicity to accessing internet-based entertainment and ushers in a new era for computing in the living room."
Some of the Navigator's features include backlit AV buttons, dedicated Esc, Enter, Back, and Function keys, an on-screen keyboard (Windows only), and rechargeable battery. GlideTV says its remote will work with all the media apps you're used to using, including Windows Media Center, iTunes, Boxee, SageTV, Firefox, and more.
There aren't a ton of affordable notebooks out there that come with a Blu-ray drive as a standard accessory. And if sources behind the scenes at makers of optical drives turn out to be true in their predictions, don't expect to see many Blu-ray based notebooks until the second half of 2010.
As has always been the case with Blu-ray, price is the prohibiting factor. According to DigiTimes, a slim-type Blu-ray drive costs about $100, while a slim DVD burner can be had for just $20, or five times less. It doesn't take a math or business major to crunch the numbers and see which one makes more sense.
By the second half of 2010, however, sources say Bu-ray drives are expected to drop. While they didn't say by how much, the general consensus is that you'll be seeing a lot more notebooks equipped with Blu-ray drives than you do today.
In the meantime, there's still the high-end sector, which now includes Intel's Core i7 processors. Toshiba, for example, recently announced the Qosmio X500 series, which sport both a Blu-ray drive and Intel's new mobile Core i7 parts.
First unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last January, Asus has finally committed to a launch date for its upcoming Eee Keyboard. Or at least a launch month. Barring any last minute delays, expect to see the Eee Keyboard on sale in Europe and the U.S. sometime in October, the company confirmed.
Asus wasn't so forthcoming about a projected price point, though the board's specifications appear set in stone this close to launch. The Eee Keyboard will ship with a 5-inch touchscreen powered by an Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor, 1GB of DDR2 memory, and choice between a 16GB or 32GB solid state drive (SSD). Connectivity options will include 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth, and Ultra Wideband HDMI.
While Asus isn't yet talking price, news and rumor site DigiTimes -- the same site that correctly predicted an October launch -- said earlier it would probably sell for around $400 to $500.