If anxiety about missing an important e-mail or instant message is keeping you glued to your keyboard, Logitech Inc. has an answer that could set you free: a cordless mouse.
The company has turned its forthcoming MX610 Laser Cordless Mouse into a kind of pager, able to signal with a colored light the arrival of e-mail (blue) or instant messages (orange). Prodding the mouse in its illuminated eye will bring the relevant message window to the foreground on the PC -- although you'll still have to go back to your desk to read it.
Logitech says the mouse will operate up to 10 meters from the PC, so it can even tell you about new messages if you carry it into the next room. (Though you'd probably still be able to hear your PC's "new message" chime from there too.) Driver software installed on the PC detects the arrival of new e-mail in your Outlook mailbox, or new instant messages in either Windows Messenger, MSN Messenger or Yahoo Instant Messenger, and sets the light accordingly. It can even be set to warn you only of messages from certain people.
With a retail price of around US$60, the mouse will go on sale in the U.S. and Europe in October, Logitech said. It did not announce European pricing.
The mouse communicates with the PC over a 2.4GHz radio connection -- the same frequency band used by Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. If the signal between the mouse and the accompanying USB (Universal Serial Bus) adapter is jammed, the mouse and adapter switch channels until they find a clear one, Logitech said.
One problem Logitech has identified with other cordless mice is that their owners forget that they run on batteries, and assume the mouse is broken when the battery goes flat. To get around that problem, the MX610 will signal with a warning red light when just 10 percent of the charge remains in its battery. Logitech expects the battery will last three months in normal use.
In addition to the illuminated buttons for reading e-mail and instant messages, other buttons control the scrolling of text on screen, and the volume of music or other sounds. Although the mouse has ten buttons in all, Logitech says it is designed for use only with the right hand.