Microsoft revamps keyboards and mice

In a massive revamp, Microsoft is announcing an overhauled line of keyboards and mice, and a new line of gaming peripherals.

After sporting the same design for 10 years, Microsoft would show off a newly revamped split keyboard that included improved ergonomic features and other new functionality, group product line manager at Microsoft, Brett Kelleran, said.

The Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 eased typing with improved angles that reduce motion, allowing users to type in a natural position, Kelleran said.

"It's [Microsoft's] first big enhancement in keyboards in the last 10 years," Kelleran said. "We have periodically refreshed the design, but this time we worked from the ground up and overhauled it."

Targeted at touch typists, the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 provided better finger posture to users, he said. "There are several curves and arcs to reduce how much you have to stretch your fingers [when you type]," he said.

Microsoft also had reworked the keyboard's angles to provide more convenient wrist and arm postures, which made typing more convenient for users, Kelleran said. The gable, which stood at 8 degrees in the original design, had been increased to 14 degrees. This liftde up the keyboard to bring keys closer to users, he said.

The keyboard also comes with an optional palm rest and a cushioned wrist rest, according to Microsoft.

The keyboard included a Zoom Slider button that allowed users to zoom into a cursor's location, Kelleran said. It also featureds multimedia, calculator and Internet-browsing buttons. They keyboard cost $US64.95 and would become available this month.

Microsoft is also unveiling another new keyboard, new mice and a new series of gaming peripherals.

Though the new Comfort Curve Keyboard 2000 didn't have a split design, its curvy, ergonomic design made it more comfortable to use than generic keyboards, Kelleran said. Like the new Natural keyboard it also included a Zoom Slider button. It cost $US24.95 and would become available this month.

The new mice - the Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 and the Wireless Optical Mouse 5000 - had more powerful sensors that result in better precision, improved responsiveness and smoother tracking, Kelleran said. Both included Zoom Slider and Magnifier buttons, allowing users to magnify an image on the screen.

The Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, which uses "high definition" laser-tracking technology, would be available in October for $US64.95, according to Microsoft.

The Wireless Optical Mouse 5000 was an update to and a renaming of the current Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer product, Kelleran said.

Microsoft changed the product name to better describe the features of the mouse to alleviate customer confusion about its functionality, he said.

Microsoft has also crafted a new line of peripherals targeted at gamers, called the Game Precision Series, according to Kelleran.

The line's first product, the Laser Mouse 6000, was a wired mouse with laser-tracking technology that provided scrolling precision sought by gamers, he said. Scrolling precision allowed the mouse to collect a deeper resolution of data from the screen than traditional optical mice when a user moved the mouse, thus providing more detail of the images onscreen.

Laser Mouse 6000 features included Precision Booster, a button that provided precise control for gamers to lock into a target in a shooting game, and Gaming Toggle, a feature that allowed gamers to quickly switch to their favorite weapons, Kelleran said.

The Laser Mouse 6000 costs $US54.95 and will be available in October.

Future Game Precision Series products wouldl include the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows, a game controller that would work both with Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 360 gaming console and Windows XP-based PCs, Kelleran said.

It cost $US44.95 and would be available in November, he said.

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Agam Shah

PC World

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