Microsoft has revealed a pair of official Windows 8 accessories, the Wedge Keyboard and the Wedge Touch Mouse, and unusually for such products, they’re interesting, innovative and surprisingly well designed.
Both the keyboard and the mouse use Bluetooth to connect to other devices, and do so without the need for a dongle, making them ideal for use with Windows 8 or other tablets that don’t have full-size USB ports.
The Wedge Keyboard has a grippy rubber cover that holds itself in place with magnets. Pull the cover away and it’ll automatically turn on the Bluetooth, so it’s ready to connect, in a similar way to Apple’s Smart Cover using magnets to power on the iPad’s screen.
Above the standard QWERTY keyboard are 12 function keys, each with a secondary media function specifically designed to interact with Windows 8. It’s powered by a pair of AAA batteries.
The cover isn’t put aside until you’ve finished either, as the hinge running down the center allows it to double as a stand for your tablet — a really great idea and one which eliminates the necessity to carry a separate one around.
Once clipped back over the keyboard, the rubber surface means it can be stored flat against the tablet’s screen without fear of causing scratches, and the keyboard’s own stand doubles as a handy grip too.
Wedge Touch Mouse
It has a touch sensitive surface ideal for quick scrolling in all directions, and Microsoft’s BlueTrack laser system means it can be used on most surfaces without a problem.
A single AA battery should power the Wedge mouse for 18-months.
The Wedge Keyboard will cost $79.95, while the Wedge Touch Mouse is $69.95, both of which are reasonable given the features and design. As Microsoft’s Surface tablets have their own interesting keyboard accessory, the Wedge series seem to be aimed at those who will purchase Windows 8 tablets from Microsoft’s hardware partners.
In addition to the Wedge peripherals, Microsoft has also announced the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard and the Sculpt Touch mouse, which have a few more features but aren’t as sleek or innovative as the Wedge series. They have both been given $49.95 price tags.
Neither the Wedge Touch Mouse or the keyboard have been given release dates, but we’d expect them to go on sale before the end of October, ready to sit alongside the new Windows 8 hardware