Microsoft launch new line of Hardware products

Microsoft's hardware division, unlike some of its others, has rarely received criticism for the products they release. Always slick, always working well, Microsoft have always done their Hardware well. Today, Microsoft are updating the line with a variety of newly designed models.

The main element to the update is the addition of finger print technology. Tried by other hardware makers, the technology hasn't really had much attention asides from high-end, security critical systems; with backing from a big player (the player?) the technology could go mainstream. Microsoft are integrating the technology into their hardware and software solutions, allowing users to give prints rather than passwords. A good move, increasing security and decreasing hassle for end users, as well as being pretty cool. No doubt, a popular addition to the hardware line. You can get the reader as a stand alone device (see screenshots below), or on an Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader, or finally on a Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer with Fingerprint Reader.

Microsoft have never had a specific product out for mobile users mouse wise; they've changed this with the new line up. A cleverly designed wireless optical mouse with a receiver that snaps away when not in use. Microsoft claim to have 3 feet (~ 1 metre) range, which is probably sufficient for most situations. They also claim to give users 3 months of usage on one set of batteries, a big increase on current / previous wireless mices - this claim is made across the range of new mice, and one would congratulate the hardware team if they've pulled it off; Many users are deterred from wireless products due to the cost of having to replace batteries regularly.

Elsewhere, they've redesigned the keyboards with better curves, new buttons, and of course, finger print readers. The new models claim to have 6 months life before needing a battery check up - no too shabby. Further, the Wireless Optical Desktop and the new Digital Media Pro Keyboard feature a new Zoom Slider that lets users quickly and easily zoom in and out of images and documents. Talking of sliders, the new range of mice all feature the '4 directional' mouse wheels (tilt wheel technology) that Microsoft introduced last year, allowing you to scroll left / right as well as up / down. The Bluetooth option is similar in design, and is functional with other Bluetooth enabled devices up to 10 metres away. It also works as a Bluetooth base station.

All in all, a pretty good new line up. Microsoft have added some new features and have updated designs to keep them competitive with other vendors. We'll take a look at some of the new gear closer up, later in the year. The products will be available in 2005; for estimated prices click "read more".

Screenshot: New Finger Print Reader | New Optical Desktop | New Optical Mouse

Screenshot: New Optical Keyboard | New Bluetooth Desktop (KB + Mouse)

Screenshot: Wireless Notebook Optical | Setup

View: MS Hardware Home

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