New Input Devices Save Energy, Space

The creative juices of designers are now flowing into mice and keyboards that are becoming sleeker, smaller and more power-efficient. Microsoft and Logitech have blended eco-friendly technology and space-saving designs in their new mouse and keyboard products. Taking a page from Apple, Acer has created a round mouse that offers a higher level of precision scrolling on PCs. And Samsung has announced the Zeal handset, which has a keypad and alphanumeric keyboard based on E-Ink's display technology.

Microsoft's mouse

Microsoft will soon start shipping its Arc mouse, which has a shape-shifting design that makes it more portable. The mouse is thinner than traditional mice and can be curved for normal use or flattened to pack up and carry. A touch-based scroll surface can be flicked to scroll through documents. The device uses AAA batteries that last for about six months, the company said. The device includes a battery life indicator.

The mouse is available for pre-order on Microsoft's website for US$69. It is scheduled to start shipping by the end of this year.

Logitech's solar-powered keyboard

Logitech has added solar panels to power its latest Wireless Solar Keyboard K750, which was announced this month. The keyboard is powered by natural light sources via solar panels that are placed on top of the keyboard. The keyboard can work "in total darkness" for up to 90 days, the company said. It is only 0.33 inches (0.84 centimeters) thick, and comes with a software application that can measure the battery power left and how much power is being received from sources like a desk lamp.

The device is priced at $79.99 and is available for order on the company's website.

Samsung Zeal

E-Ink display technology takes on a new shape in Samsung's Zeal flip-style mobile-phone handset, which was announced last week. The handset's bottom screen has a numeric keypad based on E-Ink technology, which can then morph into an alphanumeric keyboard that allows users to write text messages. The feature reduces the need for a separate slide-out keyboard, which makes the phone thinner and lighter. The handset is designed more as a messaging device than a smartphone, much like the company's Messager handsets.

The phone weighs 4.34 ounces (123 grams) with standard battery. It includes a 2.0-megapixel camera and a MicroSD slot for up to 32GB of storage. The handset is priced at $79.99 with a two-year contract from Verizon Wireless.

Asus' well-rounded mouse

Asustek has launched the round WX-DL mouse, with which "classic science fiction comes to life," the company claims. With a circular shape, the touch-sensitive wireless mouse makes four-way scrolling possible. Touch-based controls allow users to scroll through documents in all directions, an improvement over traditional mice. The device also includes a multimedia panel in the middle for controlling movie or song playback.

The mouse captures more dots while scrolling, providing improved precision and accuracy, the company says. While the round shape sets it apart, it could take a while to get used to. The device is priced at $80.

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