In an effort to clean up room clutter, Microsoft announced a wireless keyboard that combines a remote control, keyboard and mouse pointer all in one device, according to the company.
The Microsoft Remote Keyboard for Windows XP Media Center Edition will enable greater interaction with and control of PCs based on the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system, according to Microsoft.
The all-in-one keyboard allows users to send instant messages, watch movies, view images and control a TV, among other functions, from one device. "What remotes did for TVs, Microsoft's three-in-one control center does for MCE (Media Center Edition) PCs. With this device you can now get rid of all the other remotes, reducing living room clutter," said Matt Barlow, director of marketing at Microsoft Hardware, in an e-mail interview.
The keyboard includes backlit keys designed to make the keyboard easier to use in the dark. It also has a security feature, the Key-Lock button, which locks the keyboard so applications aren't triggered if a key is pressed by mistake. A "Media Center Green Button" lets a user start a Media Center PC and brings up the main menu by pressing the button once. There is also a button for turning on the TV.
Keyboard buttons dominate the middle portion of the device, while mouse functions are located on raised panels on the left and right sides of the unit. The remote control buttons, also on the raised panels, can be used to change channels, raise or lower the volume, or control a DVD movie, among other functions.
With this keyboard, Microsoft is "making it easier and more enjoyable for people to access and control their entertainment -- both in the living room and on the desktop," Barlow said.
The keyboard uses an infrared wireless link to the PC and can operate up to 30 feet away from the system, according to the company. It uses four AA batteries.
Microsoft on Tuesday also announced the Wireless Optical Desktop 5000, a keyboard and mouse combination that makes it easier to access, edit and share digital photos on a PC, according to the company. The keyboard allows users to access commonly used photo editing functions via dedicated function keys, according to the company. The wireless optical mouse has a proprietary tool called Magnifier that makes photos easier to edit and view, Barlow said. "With the Magnifier you can easily magnify, correct red eye, remove blemishes and more, " he said.
It will ship with Digital Image Standard 2006 software, imaging software that will complement the digital imaging functions provided by the Wireless Optical Desktop 5000 hardware, the company said.
Both products are priced at US$105 and will become available worldwide in September. Both are backed by a three-year limited hardware warranty in the US and Canada, Barlow said.