Tag Archives | Mice

Rock On With a Play Guitar–or a Real MIDI Instrument

Last Gadget Standing Nominees: Mad Catz Rock Band 3 Fender Mustang PRO-Guitar Controller, Rock Band 3 MIDI Pro Controller, and Cyborg R.A.T.9 Wireless ProGaming Mouse

Prices: $149.99, $399.99, and $149.99, respectively

Top 25When it comes to Rock Band 3, gaming accessory kingpin Mad Catz is having it both ways: It offers both a fancy fake guitar and an adapter that lets musicians play with real MIDI instruments.

The Fender Mustang PRO (seen above) is a replica of a legendary real guitar. It works with Rock Band on the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360 and includes 17 frets, a six-string strumming area, and a touch-sensitive string box for muting and cutting off notes. It’s also got MIDI output for use with sequencers and MIDI hardware. Meanwhile, Mad Catz’ MIDI Pro Controller lets music fans connect standard MIDI keyboard and drum sets to Rock Band via a USB connection. It sports a D-pad and gaming controller buttons, and lets you adjust velocity to reduce drum crosstalk during play; it can rest on a table or be worn on a belt during play.

On another note entirely, the Cyborg R.A.T.9 is a wireless mouse aimed at serious gamers. The macho-looking black mouse uses a 2.4-GHz wireless connection, and the company estimates its latency at less than a second. It comes with two hot-swappable battery packs and 42 grams of adjustable weights, letting gamers tweak the mouse’s heaviness; And there are five programmable buttons and a mode that lets you temporarily slow down the cursor for precise control.


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Microsoft's Magic Trackpad Competitor: Arc Touch

Remember those cryptic images teasing something “flat and touchy” that appeared on Microsoft’s Twitter account earlier this week? Sources are telling Neowin that the device is the Arc Touch Mouse, a touch-enabled mouse that will make its debut in September at a price of $69.95.

While it may look like a response to Apple’s recently announced Magic Trackpad, it appears that the timing may be more coincidental than anything. The device is part of a larger project within Microsoft called “Mouse 2.0,” which has been underway since at least last year.

(See this research paper from Microsoft Research as evidence of what I’m talking about.)

Apple may have a leg up here on Microsoft: it appears at least initially the device is not multitouch. It may not really matter though either: neither is the Magic Trackpad on Windows for the time being.

It’s not clear whether touch is the name of the game here, or as the name suggests, traditional mouse use is also possible. If its the latter, it may be more accurate to put Apple’s Magic Mouse as its chief competitor instead.

Either way, it does seem to me that Apple may have been onto “the next big thing” as Harry asked last week. Maybe the mouse really is just about dead, after all.


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Apple's Magic TrackPad: Niche Product or the Next Big Thing?

Apple announced a bunch of products this morning, including more potent Mac Pros, iMacs with new processors, an a 27-inch Cinema Display. But the most intriguing new item is the smallest and cheapest one: the $69 Magic Trackpad. Rumored for months, it brings the multi-touch design and integrated button to an oversized, standalone wireless Bluetooth model designed to look good sitting next to Apple’s wireless keyboard.

(Apple says that the Magic Trackpad is for Macs only; I wonder if anyone will figure out how to make it work with Windows, or if the company would consider a PC-friendly model?)

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Maxell Debuts Line of Ergomotion Computer Accessories

Maxell to me has always meant recordable media–and I’ve used their products consistently because it’s typically fairly low-cost and high-quality. With physical media beginning to wane, the company has obviously needed to look to other markets for sources of revenue.

Thus, it looks like the company’s next big thing is in accessories, and the two newest products fall under its Ergomotion line. Maxell debuted its laser and optical mice as well as its ergonomic keyboard this week in New York. As the name suggests the ergonomics of this line have to do with motion, and the way the company does it sure is interesting.

Beginning with the mice, the first thing you will notice with them is that they’re almost on a pedestal of sorts. This pedestal allows the mouse itself to be tilted around, which in turn allows users to find the way that is most comfortable to them instead the typical flat-handed hold we have been using to operate our mice for so long.

The real benefit of these mice could be found by standing up. When you’re operating a mouse from that position, your wrist must be bent back unnaturally for long periods of time. With the pedestal, the mouse could be tilted forward slightly, requiring less of that bend on your wrist and thus a more comfortable hold. Maxell argues that this will provide a larger benefit over the standard ergonomic mouse.

Two versions of the mouse are available, an optical and laser model, and will retail for $29.99 and $49.99 USD respectively. The laser version will only come in black, however the optical version is available in grey, blue, red, and purple.

The second Ergomotion product will be the Automatic Motion Keyboard, which will retail for $149.99 USD. While at its heart this keyboard is a standard ergonomic keyboard with the traditional bowed shape, its biggest feature is the fact that it actually moves.

Maxell’s argument for such a feature is this. By changing the shape of the keyboard ever so slightly every hour, it enhances the ergonomics by moving the hands slightly. If a user does find a setting they especially like, Maxell does give the option to stop the keyboard from moving. However, that just seems to defeat the purpose.

This keyboard requires power, so there isn’t a wireless version–it needs to be plugged into a USB port. There is also another downside, at least for Mac users: it’s PC only. The mice will work on either operating system, however.


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This Isn’t a Job For Mighty Mouse!

Mighty MouseAs TechCrunch’s MG Siegler has reported, it looks like Apple may need to come up with a new name for the multi-touch mouse it’s supposedly getting ready to release: Another mouse manufacturer called Man & Machine has been awarded a trademark on the name Apple’s been using, Mighty Mouse. The name is, of course, a reference to Paul Terry’s beloved crime-busting rodent–who, oddly enough, only became Mighty Mouse after his original name, Super Mouse, became the subject of a trademark dispute shortly after the character debuted in 1942. (Apple apparently secured permission to use the name from Mighty’s current owner, CBS.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of other animated mice who’d probably be thrilled to have an Apple input device named after them. After the jump, a few nominees.

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The Mice That Didn’t Make It

Mouse TroubleOnce again, I’ve been happily wallowing in old documents at Google Patents. This time, I emerged with a bunch of patents for mice and other input devices–none of which had the impact that their creators hoped, and some of which are downright bizarre.

View Mouse Trouble slideshow.


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Mouse Trouble: 20 Weird Pointing Device Patents

Mouse Trouble

Build a better mousetrap, Ralph Waldo Emerson famously told us, and the world will beat a path to your door. On the other hand, computer-industry folks have been trying to build a better mouse for years–and the world has stayed away from 99 percent of them, including some fascinating works of unbridled mad genius. I’ve assembled a gallery of ill-fated mice (plus a few trackballs and mousepads), mostly drawn from the invaluable Google Patents. Some of these presumably turned into real products; others never got off the drawing board. Herewith, brief moments of delayed glory for all of them.


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Microsoft Dives Deeper Into the Laptop Accessory Business

Microsoft Laptop Cooling BaseEven Microsoft’s most impassioned critics will concede that it makes a darn good mouse, and with the rising popularity of netbooks, its hardware group is capitalizing on the opportunity to sell even more accessories. The company announced today that it will be introducing a notebook cooling base in July, and delivering more colors for its Arc Mouse later this month.

Microsoft has been a major PC accessory manufacturer for 25+ years, thanks to the Microsoft Mouse, and its move into the notebook accessory category is a logical extension of its hardware business.

Earlier this month, a Gartner Research report projected that notebook PC shipments would increase approximately 9 percent in 2009 from 2008 despite the worldwide economic downturn’s overall negative effect on global PC shipments.

While its hardware business is benefiting, the netbook trend has hurt Windows client licensing revenue. Microsoft’s diversification is filling its coffers, but it will have to sell a lot of Arc Mouses (Mice?) to make up the difference.


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The Mouse Turns Forty

mouse-teaser1Back in the 1960s, a genius named Douglas Engelbart was busy figuring out many of the things that define most of the computing user interfaces on this planet to this day. On December 9th, 1968, he gave the first public demonstration of a device for manipulating an on-screen cursor–and since the little gadget had a tail-like cord, he called it a mouse. In celebration of today’s anniversary of the mouse’s debut, we’ve assembled a little slideshow of significant mice (and a few oddballs) from the past four decades.


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The Mouse That Soared

mouse-splash4

On December 9th, 1968, Stanford Research Institute scientist Douglas Engelbart demonstrated his unique invention–the computer mouse–for the first time in public. It took another decade and a half for it to catch on, but once it did, computing was never the same. And today, it’s hard to imagine using a desktop or laptop computer without a mouse (or one of its latter-day substitutes such as the touchpad). In celebration of the anniversary, here’s a gallery of some of the mightiest mice of the last four decades.


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