Microsoft's New Mice Get Touchy

Microsoft is introducing a new line of keyboards and mice this week, including some with fingerprint readers that lets users scan a finger instead of having to enter a log-in name and password when accessing online services or logging on to the PC.

A keyboard, mouse, and a stand-alone fingerprint reader were added to Microsoft's hardware lineup. The products are aimed at consumers and are meant for convenience use only. Strong, or hard-to-guess passwords are still recommended for sensitive data such as financial information or for access to corporate networks, Microsoft says.

The Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader is expected to retail for $109, while the Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer with Fingerprint Reader will sell for $85. The Fingerprint Reader by itself is expected to retail for $55.

As part of its annual keyboard and mice product line refresh, Microsoft also is introducing a new gently-curved keyboard with keys placed at a 6 degree angle. The keyboard promotes a more natural hand and wrist alignment but offers the same layout as a traditional flat keyboard, according to Microsoft.

The ergonomically designed, curved keyboard is part of the Wireless Optical Desktop Comfort Edition, which also includes a mouse. It is offered as an option for users who want more comfort, but don't like the split keyboard that Microsoft first introduced in 1994, dubbed the Microsoft Natural keyboard.

The Wireless Optical Desktop will sell for $85.

Going Mobile

For mobile users, Microsoft is introducing the new Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse, which will sell for $45. This first Microsoft mouse designed for notebook users on the go includes a small receiver that plugs into a USB port and snaps into the bottom of the mouse for storage. Storing the receiver turns off the power to save battery life, Microsoft says.

The new hardware lineup also includes an updated Bluetooth offering. The $159 Optical Desktop Elite and the $85 IntelliMouse Explorer for Bluetooth now feature a tilting mouse wheel for horizontal scrolling, longer battery life, and other enhancements, Microsoft says. The company first released a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse two years ago.

On the lower end, Microsoft has updated its basic wireless mouse product, now called Standard Wireless Optical Mouse, and introduced a new keyboard for digital media users called the Digital Media Pro Keyboard.

The Digital Media Pro Keyboard will sell for $35, and the Standard Wireless Optical Mouse will retail for $35.

For business users, Microsoft has created a new Microsoft Business Hardware Pack that includes a wired keyboard and a mouse at a low price point.

All new products are available worldwide now or will be by the end of September, except for the mouse with fingerprint reader, which should be in stores early next year, Microsoft says.

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