Roccat Woos Gamers at CES

Roccat LogoHardware outfit Roccat Studios are dropping a whole bunch of new toys at CES  for the hardcore gamer, including headphones, mice and keyboards. Known for their signature Kone gaming mouse, the new products look the business.

First up are two additions to the Roccat range of mice. On the left, there’s the new Kone XTD Optical which has a 6,400 dpi optical sensor. If my maths is right, that means you can move the mouse just 4 micrometers and the movement will be picked up. That’s tiny – a piece of paper is about 90 micrometers thick. On the right, it’s the Kone Pure Military, coming in three different designs – Desert Strike, Naval Storm and Camo Charge. I like the look of these! The Pure Military “only” has a 5,000 dpi optical sensor. Both mice have Roccat’s tracking and distance control unit (TDCU) for more precise gaming and greater accuracy.

Kone XTD Optical Mouse      Kone Pure Military Mouse

 

Next are two additions to the Ryos keyboard range, the TKL and TKL Pro. Both are compact keyboards without the numeric keypad and the Pro version comes with per-key illumination and effects such as “breathing” and four different switch colours. As you’d expect from any serious gaming keyboard, keys can easily be programmed with macros and there are three additional programmable thumbster keys below the space bar.

Ryos TKL Keyboard

Finally, two new Kave XTD headsets have been announced – the 5.1 Analog and the Stereo. The 5.1 Analog is the successor to the original Kave 5.1 and is made for gamers who already have a 5.1 soundcard, with both audio jacks and USB connectors to power up the in-cable remote and LED lighting. Weight has been reduced by 25% while improving comfort and build quality.

The XTD Stereo has same design and build, with a pair of driver units giving rich gaming stereo sound. The noise-cancelling microphone can be removed when not required and the mute LED can silence the microphone at inappropriate moments.

Kave XTD Headset

 

Prices were not disclosed at time of announcement, but you can learn more at Roccat’s showroom in the Venetian Hotel during CES 2014.

 

Logitech m560 Wireless Mouse Review

Logitech LogoThis is the era of the touch user interface with smartphones and tablets present in large percentages of households in the US and Europe. Microsoft has taken touch to the heart of Windows 8 which is great if the device has a touch screen but an exercise in frustration if it doesn’t. However, all is not lost, as a mouse such as the Logitech m560 can take away a good chunk of the Windows 8 pain. Hurrah!

The Logitech m560 Wireless Mouse is a full size mouse primarily aimed at desktop users, though it will work with any USB-equipped computer, whether desktop, laptop or tablet. The m560 is sold in two versions, one black and one white, and obviously the one reviewed here is the white one. The mouse is packaged in an easy-to-open blister pack and inside there’s a mouse, nano receiver, AA battery and instructions, which are worth a quick glance to understand the considerable capabilities of the m560.

Logitech m560 Mouse Blister Pack

Once freed from the packaging, the nano transceiver must be slotted into an empty USB port. Once that’s done and the mouse has been turned on via the underside button, the m560 is good to go. The battery is even pre-installed. As usual with the Logitech mice, the nano receiver can be stored in the battery compartment for safe-keeping.

Logitech m560 mouse

The Logitech m560 is a 5 button mouse with a scroll wheel. There are the standard two buttons on the unbroken top surface, a third button behind the click wheel and the two buttons the left side of the body. The scroll wheel can switch between a click mode and and a free-wheeling mode, which allows super fast scrolling. The overall shape of the mouse is symmetric so will suit both left and right handed users, though the extra two side buttons are best used by the thumb on the right hand.

The m560 is designed to overcome the main irritations of using Windows 8 on a non-touch device. Pressing the middle button behind the scroll wheel initiates a swipe in, so pressing the button then moving the mouse to the right will bring up the Charms bar. The same button and moving to the left will bring up the Apps bar. The button towards the front toggles between the new Windows 8 Start menu and the traditional view. The other button clears the current windows away and shows the desktop. When the Windows 8 Start menu is shown, the scroll wheel shifts the menu left and right. All of these actions make Windows 8 easier to use.

The m560 works well too with Windows 7 and Vista, though clearly the actions will be slightly different.

How does it feel? I really liked the Logitech m560. The white surface has a matte, almost egg-shell finish to it and I loved the way it fitted in my hand. The free-wheel mode for the scroll wheel was a revelation as I had never previously used a mouse with this feature and, boy, you can whizz through long documents. The additional buttons make Windows 8 a pleasure to use on a non-touch device so the m560 is highly recommended under these circumstances. Overall, if we did product ratings on GNC, I’d give it 5 stars.

The Logitech m560 wireless mouse is available from all good retailers with a list price of GB £34.99 or US $39.99.

Thanks to Logitech for the loan of the review device.

Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 Review

Wireless mice are commonplace these days but many only work with their own brand wireless transceiver, which restricts their use to devices equipped with USB ports. Less common are Bluetooth-based mice which have the potential to work with any Bluetooth-equipped unit, including Android and iOS tablets, potentially making them much more useful. On review here is one such mouse, the Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000. Snappy name, but let’s take a look.

The 5000 is fairly typical of notebook mice being smaller than a typical desktop mouse at only 9 cm long and about 5.5 cm wide. People with large hands may find the mouse is too small but for occasional use with a tablet or notebook, it’s fine. I certainly wouldn’t want it as my main mouse as I can’t really rest my hand on it, but this is all subjective and some people may find it perfect.

image

Looks-wise, it’s not a Microsoft Arc or a Logitech Ultrathin, but it’s not entirely unattractive. This is the version with silvery-white buttons and dark gray body; there is a version with these colours reversed too. The silver matched my Samsung Chromebook rather nicely but the colour does vary with the light.

Two Duracell AA batteries power the 5000, which are supplied in the packaging and Duracell’s make a welcome change from the generic AAs that usually accompany remote controls and other battery-powered accessories. There’s an on/off switch on the bottom to conserve power when not in use. I’ve been using the mouse for about a week and I’ve yet to replace the batteries.

To pair the mouse, there’s a second button on the underside that needs to be pressed for a few seconds to put the mouse into a pairing mode. After that, the mouse should appear in the device list of whatever computer is to connect to the mouse. I successfully paired with an Android tablet, a Windows 8 tablet and a Chromebook. I imagine that it will work with iPads and other iOS devices but I didn’t have one at hand to test.

image

In use, the 5000 works pretty much like any mouse. It’s an optical mouse with a laser motion tracker so resistance will depend entirely on the surface in use. There are four buttons: left, right, middle and “back”, which is next to the main left button and can pressed by your thumb to take your web browser back a page – you can see it in the top picture. Great if you are right-handed, but a waste of time if you are left-handed. The scroll wheel has a bit of stiffness to it but I like that as it prevents accidental scrolling.

Overall, the Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 is a good mouse but not a great mouse. It’s nothing special but there’s nothing wrong with it either (except for the back button only being useful to right-handed users) . The 5000 is available from all good retailers for around £25.

Disclaimer: this was a personal purchase.

Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630 (Review)

t630-stock-image-side

The mouse has been around nearly since the humble beginnings of personal computing and, unlike the PC and its software, this tiny peripheral has changed little. But time and technology eventually catch up to even the simplest of objects and the lowly mouse is no exception.

We have witnessed the introduction of cordless versions, first with USB dongles and later with Bluetooth technology.  Buttons have changed, scroll wheels have appeared, lasers replaced track balls and countless other small, but meaningful, progressions have taken place. Mice have evolved from a simple input device to a specialized mouse – from desktop, to gaming, and even travel varieties.

It all leads to today’s innovations in peripheral technology, which Logitech is exploiting in its latest release – the Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630.

In a market becoming divided by user behavior, the T630 falls squarely into the category of travel, thanks to its compact design. There is nothing fancy here – no software need be installed and there are none of the click buttons contained in today’s high-end gaming mice.

This is purely about form and style conquering added, and mostly unneeded and extraneous, features that simply are not a necessity to today’s busy traveler. The T630 is all about compactness and ease of use.

This is a mouse you grab from your travel bag, pop on the desk and get started with. There is no need to worry about the extras – there are none. It just works.

Design and Style

The T630 is tiny, measuring in at a scant 3.25 inches in length, 2.25 inches in width and 0.5 inches in depth, though that tapers quite significantly towards the front end.

The little wedge-shaped peripheral is black on the top, with metallic silver sides and a small Logitech logo running across the rear of the top surface. No buttons or scroll wheel are visible, giving the mouse a very clean and sculpted look.

Several small buttons are present on the outside of the T630, but these are carefully hidden on the underside so as not to subtract from the good looks.

Setting up the T630

Unlike the more sophisticated gaming mice on the market, the Logitech T630 Touch Mouse comes with no software to setup, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tricks to getting underway – they simply are not complicated steps.

First, and fairly obvious, is that you must make sure your computer supports Bluetooth, but that is not a stumbling block for much of today’s hardware. You will also need to enable the service, which is frequently off in laptops due to battery-drain concerns.

In Windows 8, head to the Charms menu and hit Settings and then Change PC Settings. Next, tap Wireless and, under Wireless Devices, you will find the option to toggle Bluetooth on and off.

If you are using Windows 7, then first you will need to turn on the Bluetooth device and then look for it under Device Manager. It’s not uncommon to find the item marked with a yellow warning triangle, requiring you to right-click and update the driver.

t630-bottomWith these minor procedures behind us, turn the T630 belly-up, where you will discover three buttons. One is a channel-switch marked “1” and “2”. This allows you to pair the mouse with two different computers and move back and forth by simply toggling the little switch one position to the other. Choose the side you wish to begin with and then flip the on-off switch to “on” – it will now show green as opposed to the previous red.

Lastly, press the tiny button marked “connect” and turn the device right-side-up. At this point you should see a tiny pin-prick of light shining from a hole near the top-rear of the mouse – a spot so small you really can’t see it until it suddenly lights up. This will blink a blue color as it searches and turn solid one it has paired with your PC. After a few seconds it will go out. You are now connected and the mouse should work immediately.

If you do not see any light during this process then the mouse may need to be charged. It works with Micro USB and you will find the port on the bottom, near the rear end. A small cable ships with the T630, but today’s phone charging cords can also be used. The light will come on, this time in green, as the mouse charges. When the light is out then the device is fully charged.

Using the T630

As previously noted, the top surface of the peripheral is smooth, but the buttons are still present, though the clicking action, which is still audible, is actually carried out on the bottom of the device. Both left and right are located in the same positions as on any typical mouse.

Scroll wheel functionality is located in the center, just ahead of the Logitech logo. Click once to enable and again to disable.

t630-topThis peripheral also has several gestures that make it simple to use. For instance, while many of us are used to a scroll wheel, you may find scrolling up and down a page easier on the T630 Touch Mouse by simply swiping a finger towards the rear of the mouse for page down and towards the front for page up.

If you are using Windows 8 then you will encounter two additional handy gestures – swipe in from the right to access the Charms menu or in from the left side for the list of open apps. A slower swiping motion allows for side-to-side scrolling of a wide page.

Finally, tap two fingers simultaneously near the center of the mouse to gain easy access to the Start button, though this may be a Windows 7-only option, as it did not seem to work under Windows 8.1, which does have a Start button, though it’s less functional than its ancestor.

Final Conclusion

I should preface this by telling you that the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630 is likely not for everyone. Users with large hands, for instance, may experience problems. In fact, despite that my hands are pretty average, using this mouse took some getting used to – it, at first, practically felt as if there was nothing at all under my hand. I came from a Logitech M185, which is a typically shaped mouse, though smaller than a standard “desktop size” mouse. The T630 dwarfs it.

When it comes to functionality, the Logitech device contains everything you expect from a basic mouse — left and right buttons and a scroll wheel. But it comes with several useful bonus features, such as swipe scrolling (a feature we’re all used to from today’s mobile devices) and easy access to the Windows 8 side menus.

Setup is also simple enough for any user – the Bluetooth links up to the computer with no hassle and adding a second paired device is just as easy. An on-off button allows you to save on battery when the peripheral isn’t in use, and recharging the battery can be done anywhere thanks to micro USB compatibility.

If I had to give you one complaint about the T630 then it would be sensitivity. Namely that the little device has too much of it. I find that the slightest movement of my finger has me scrolling down a page when I am not expecting to do so.

The bottom line here is that the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630, which has just gone on sale for $69.99, is a great mouse, providing you can adapt to using such a tiny device. For those just looking for an easy fit in a travel bag, as opposed to daily use, it excels, but may be a bit pricey for limited use scenarios.

Logitech releases M560 mouse for Windows 8

We are only days from the release of Windows 8.1, the successor to the much-maligned operating system that Microsoft pushed out to customers this time last year. As you all likely know by now, even if you haven’t used it, there is much that is different in Windows 8, such as the Charms menu.

To go along with these changes, new devices have been popping up. Logitech has been one of the leaders, producing mice that use gestures to call up these features. Recently, I have been using one of these peripherals, in the form of a Logitech T630, which is a small travel-size mouse.

Now the company is releasing a desktop version tagged the M560. “Whether you’re a righty or a lefty, use a fingertip or palm grip, its deep sculpted contours and soft rubber grip keep your hand comfortable, even after hours of scrolling, searching and clicking”, Logitech announces today.

logitech m560

The M560 features a Windows 8 menu button that sits behind the scroll wheel for one-touch access to the functions you use most, including the Apps Switch and Charms Bar, while two customizable thumb buttons allow you to switch from the traditional Windows desktop and apps to the new, full-screen Windows 8 interface. These thumb buttons can also be customized.

The Logitech M560 is on sale now, retailing for $39.99 and comes in your choice of black or silver.

Microsoft introduces new Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 Artist Editions

microsoft 3500 mouseMicrosoft has always been labeled as a software company, and there is some reason for that — mainly Windows and Office. But when the company introduced the Surface tablet, it was not the first foray into hardware. Many people tend to forget that Microsoft produces some of the most popular hardware on the planet in the Xbox and Kinect. It has also long built excellent mice and keyboards, used by many businesses around the world.

Today Microsoft announced six new versions of its popular 3500 model wireless mouse. All of the new editions are a part of the Artist Series. Dana McClure, Deanne Cheuk, Kustaa Saksi, Matt Lyon, Joy Deangdeelert Cho and Si Scott all contributed to this latest line of peripheral devices.

Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc tells us “each mouse features a snap-in nano USB transceiver, BlueTrack Technology and a two-color battery light indicator”.

The line will be available soon and retail for a reported $29.95 U.S. You will be able to grab one from both Microsoft online and brick and mortar stores, as well as other retail locations, which the company did not specify.

Mionix and the Indestructible Keyboard!

From time to time you may feel like pounding your keyboard in frustration, but Mionix has actually invented a keyboard that makes that possible.  Now, we aren’t recommending that you take out your rage on an inanimate object, just pointing out that they claim that this thing is pretty much indestructible.

Every key on this new keyboard is mounted on a steel plate and rates for 50 million keystrokes.  What they are selling here is a long-lasting keyboard, not one you can hammer at will.  This keyboard, they claim, should last you 10 years.  The keyboard cable is heavy duty, and it even has a built in audio jack and USB.

In addition to the keyboard, Mionix also has a new mouse and mouse pad, both of which have some very unique and highly-tested features to optimize them.  The new keyboard carries an MSRP of $149.99, the mouse is $79.99, and mouse pads begin at $24.99.  You can find out more at Mionix.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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Penclic Combines a Pen With a Mouse

Penclic is a Swedish company that has an innovative new take on the plain old computer mouse.  The mouse actually looks a bit like a pen resting in a fountain, as it protrudes from the top of the small mouse.  This allows the user to control the movement in a more ergonomic manor, more like old fashioned writing than actually elevating the wrist to move a traditional mouse.

At the moment the Penclic mouse is only available in a right-handed model, but lefties won’t need to wait long for their version.  The pen shaft actually rotates so that each user can find the most comfortable position for  his or her self.  The left, right, and center click buttons are all located on the “pen”, which also has two additional buttons for web surfing – back and forwards.  The mouse is wireless and has a small rechargeable battery.

You can see the mouse demonstrated in the video below. You can buy it from many retailers in the U.S., including Amazon for an MSRP of $89.  You can also visit Penclic on the web, but the site is in Swedish.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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Roadmice Brings Cool Cars to the Desktop

Roadmice works with HP to build some very unique computer mice that will certainly make your desktop standout from everyone else’s.  They have license agreements with 12 car makers and even NASCAR to build these automobile replicas. Each mouse is wireless, operating on the 2.4 GHz frequency.  This year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas they unveiled the third-generation of their lineup.

Regardless of if you are looking for a Ford, Nissan, or even a Lamborghini, you will find it here.  The latest model utilizes the HP Comfort Mouse technology and operates on a single AA battery, with a promised 4-6 month battery life.  You can get a  little extra life if you decide not to enable the working headlights, which come on when motion is detected.

Roadmice also has matching mouse pads and USB drives available for purchase and are working on releasing keyboards as well.  Prices for the mice range from $39.99 to $49.99 depending on the car model you want.  You can find out more at Roadmice and see a demo in the video below.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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Shogun Bros X-1 Chameleon Gamepad Mouse

Shogun Bros X-1 ChameleonShogun Bros X-1 Chameleon converts between a mouse, a game pad and a presentation controller at the flick of a switch. Sounds like a great idea but does it work in practice? Nick checks it out.

The Chameleon X-1 looks like any ordinary cordless optical mouse when placed on a desk, but flip it over and there’s an array of game-pad controls and buttons on the underside. The X-1 comes in a range of bright colors and the clever design won it a CES Design and Innovation Honoree award. It runs off a single AA battery, making the mouse lightweight, too.

For the gamers, there’s a product tie-in with Assassin’s Creed using customized versions to match in-game characters, including a leather covered mouse – don’t ask me which character this is supposed to be. These limited editions will be on-sale in about a month: the standard X-1 is on-sale now for around $60.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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