While USB has been the standard for communication with peripherals for a couple of years now, some areas of computer technology are just catching up. The Back-UPS Pro USB from American Power Conversion is an uninterruptible power supply which uses its USB connection to enable the computer to shut down gracefully in the event of power failure. First introduced in the US, an Australian version should be on the market within months.
American Power Conversion
Phone: 1800 652 725
Not to be outdone in the weird pointing device stakes, 3M has introduced its Renaissance Mouse - an ergonomic design it claims is "clinically proven to reduce muscle strain and discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injury". Available in two sizes to suit different hand widths, the mouse holds your wrist in a vertical orientation which 3M says is less stressful on the wrist than a standard mouse.
Phone: 13 6136
Day by day, technicians struggle to make the computing experience more immersive and involving. The iFeel Mouse from Logitech represents one such effort - to add texture to your computer's desktop. As you move the pointer across the screen, a tiny motor interprets the icons and features as vibrations which give you a tactile indication of the onscreen action.
Phone: (02) 9972 3711
Hardware becomes software with this new keyboard from ElekTex. Made of an electrically conductive fabric, this keyboard "can be rolled up when you're not using it, and provides tactile feedback with its soft, slightly raised keys. This is the first of what the company hopes will be many products featuring this flexible new technology.
Mini tape drive
Notebook computers carry a lot of valuable business data these days, so portable backup solutions are becoming important. One such product is the Echo USB30 tape drive, which can hold up to 15GB of uncompressed data per tape, yet is thin and light enough to go travelling.
Phone: (02) 8762 3500
Need some external storage a bit bigger and faster than the venerable Zip drive? How about 80GB in a portable package with all the performance of a hard drive? In fact, this product from Maxtor actually is a hard drive, but one that's been wrapped up in a pretty translucent package and communicates with computers using the ultra-fast IEEE1394 FireWire standard.
Price: 40GB $699, 80GB $899
Phone: (02) 9369 3662
The race to find new and interesting ways to connect to the Internet continues with the production of 3Com's cute little access device called Audrey. Its colour screen lets you surf the Web and communicate by e-mail, while the plastic stylus, stored on top of the unit, lights up when a message is waiting for you. Though already released in the States, it won't be available here until around June.
Phone: 13 6136
If you can't afford a weird mouse, perhaps you can aspire to a weird mouse mat. The Bubblo-Mat is available in a variety of colours to suit your aesthetic senses, though its somewhat rubbery texture may not suit your hand.
Bristol & Brooks
Phone: (02) 9232 8699