We're eagerly awaiting the release of Microsoft's Surface tablet, which was just confirmed to go on sale on Windows 8's October 26th release date. But Redmond's hardware division has been working on more devices to accompany the audacious OS's anticipated launch. Today, Microsoft Hardware announced the Wedge Touch Mouse and Wedge Mobile Keyboard, two peripherals with unique design details that suit the kind of tablet computing Microsoft envisions with Windows 8 and Surface.
The Wedge Mobile Keyboard is a compact portable keyboard with a 100%-sized scissor-switch keys. The Bluetooth keyboard doesn't lay flat on a table; a protruding battery compartment on its underside permanently props the keyboard up at an angle suitable for typing, and Microsoft claims the battery column also makes for a comfortable grip when carrying the keyboard with a tablet. More interesting though is the sturdy rubberized cover that comes with the keyboard, which folds at any angle to double as tablet stand. And since the keyboard is designed for Windows 8, it sports Windows 8-specific shortcuts for Charms along with the new Windows logo on the Start Screen-activating Windows key.
More likely to turn heads is the Wedge Touch Mouse, a tiny mouse with Microsoft's BlueTrack technology. This device almost disappears under the palm of your hand in use, and is decidedly more suitable for users who fancy the "finger gripping" style of mousing over the "palming" technique. The buttons physically click, though the touch surface will also recognize four-way gestures for scrolling (though not Windows 8's multi-finger gestures). I'm a fan of Microsoft's Arc Touch Mouse for travel but often misplace the wireless dongle in my laptop bag, so I'm looking forward to trying this Bluetooth mouse on the road.
The Wedge Mobile Keyboard is priced at $80 and the Wedge Touch Mouse at $70. Microsoft says both devices will be "available soon". We'll be testing both when they become available.