In the past several months, Microsoft has introduced special Windows-8 oriented peripherals including a variety of “touch mice” and keyboards designed to help conventional PC users maximize their Windows 8 experience. Last week, Logitech followed suit with a collection of Windows 8 touch devices (and some keyboards) as well.
These devices are designed to support use of gestures on their surfaces (and to control cursor movement) to help users take advantage of Windows 8′s touch-oriented user interface without necessarily acquiring a touchscreen. I see this approach — which Microsoft also supports with its various touch mice — as a more affordable way to upgrade existing systems to Windows 8 without having to replace conventional monitors with touchscreen counterparts. Besides for regular systems (and most business applications) there’s simply no reason to use touch all that much, expect for UI navigation anyway. This approach makes a nice and affordable compromise available to users or organizations that may not even want to pony up for touchscreens anyway. Here’s a little more information on the three devices depicted above (all three work with the Logitech unifying receiver, with no word about Bluetooth versions available as yet):
- Zone Touch Mouse T400: (MSRP: $50) includes conventional mouse buttons at the top front of the mouse body’s surface, but also incorporates a glass-covered touch zone for horizontal scrolling. It provides shortcuts to access the Win8 Start screen (press the front of the touch zone) and Win8′s list of open apps (press back of the touch zone, just below the buttons). The maker claims this mouse will run for up to 18 months on a pair of AA batteries.
- Rechargeable Touchpad T560: (MSRP: $80) looks to be about 4×4″ in size, and includes a built-in rechargeable USB battery that the company suggests will last for up to one month before a plug-in becomes necessary (via USB to the host PC). It supports its own library of Win8 gestures (videos of all gestures in use are available online). This device appears designed to provide the most natural Windows 8 touch experience to users, but is also the highest-priced of these three offerings, too.
- Touch Mouse T620: (MSRP: $60) features a smooth glass surface all over, and its own sets of Win8 and Win7 gestures. It also uses two AA batteries for power, which Logitech claims will last up to 6 months in this device. Aside from the tap-based gestures it supports, the entire top surface of this mouse also acts like a touchpad and supports a variety of gestures for shortcuts and navigation.
Look for these devices to hit stores on October 25, when Windows 8 GA ships.