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Hands-on with new Microsoft Wedge and Sculpt input devices (pictures)

Microsoft gave us some quick one-on-one time with its new, tablet-oriented mice and keyboards.

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Rich Brown

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1 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

The tiny Wedge Touch Mouse

Even in your humble tech journalist's smaller hands, the Wedge Touch Mouse felt a bit too compact. The touch surface was responsive, at least.
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2 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Keeping it together

One useful design touch is the sliding battery cover, which you open via a button on the bottom of the mouse. Since it doesn't pop off from the device, you won't have to worry about losing it.
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3 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

BlueTrack

The bottom of the Wedge Touch Mouse reveals the battery slider and power buttons, as well as the opening for the BlueTrack sensor. The sensor is powerful enough that you can use the Wedge Touch Mouse on almost any surface. Like, say, a reed place mat.
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4 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

The utilitarian Sculpt Touch Mouse

The Sculpt Touch Mouse is not quite as visually interesting as its Wedge counterpart.
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5 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Big enough to work

You can see here that the Sculpt Touch Mouse offers a mousing experience that's more substantial, and more traditional. The touch scroll wheel offers four-way scrolling, similar to that of Microsoft's old Arc Touch mouse.
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6 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Side view of the Sculpt Touch Mouse

This mouse cuts a familiar profile.
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7 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Wedge Mobile Keyboard ready to hit the road

The Wedge Mobile Keyboard comes with a thick protective rubber sleeve that functions as a tablet stand when you remove it.
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8 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Peeking out

The rubber cover comes off easily enough. You can see the hinge in the middle of the cover here.
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9 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Clean design. Perhaps too clean.

I've always thought Microsoft's keyboards have a less-polished, plastic quality compared with Apple's or Logitech's sleek designs. The Wedge Mobile Keyboard actually feels substantial and easy to type on, but the rounded, mashed-together key layout still reads "cheap" to me.
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10 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

A strong foundation

The Wedge Mobile Keyboard's sturdiness comes from its underside, which is made of aluminum with a triangular rubber foot.
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11 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Click clack

Even if I don't love its looks, I had no objections to the feel of the Wedge Mobile Keyboard. The keys have a satisfying, responsive clickiness to them, and, most importantly, the keyboard is heavy enough that it doesn't move around while you're working.
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12 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

From below

A better look at the Wedge Mobile Keyboard's clean underbelly.
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13 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Smart battery enclosure

As on the Wedge Touch Mouse, the Wedge keyboard's battery enclosure has no removable parts. The tray simply slides down out of its housing.
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14 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Ready to go

Microsoft says it designed the Wedge Mobile Keyboard to physically match up with a tablet for convenient carrying. I suspect most people would probably put everything in a bag, but this setup would work well for moving around in an office day-to-day.
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15 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Wedge Mobile Keyboard case in action

Here you can see the rubber case performing its duty as a tablet stand. You can adjust the angle of the tablet easily by tilting the support.
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16 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Tablet support, side view

That's a 11.6-inch Samsung Slate 700T tablet Microsoft brought for the brief demo. It seemed sturdy enough on the rubber stand.
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17 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Tablet in action

The full Wedge keyboard and stand experience. I can't help wishing the stand had charging capability or even a USB or AV port or two.
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18 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sculpt Travel Keyboard

I assume Microsoft has reams of market research to explain why the $79 Wedge is a "Mobile" keyboard and the $49 Sculpt is a mere "Travel" peripheral.
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19 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

A more business-minded travel keyboard

You don't get a transforming rubber case with the Sculpt Travel Keyboard, but it at least offers a larger typing surface. It also has Microsoft's familiar Comfort Curve design, a wavy ergonomic shape that makes the keyboard more comfortable to type on for extended periods.
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20 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

New hot keys for Windows 8

It wouldn't be a Microsoft hardware device without Windows-specific features. Here you can see the four new hot keys that will be a recurring theme throughout the launch of Windows 8.
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21 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

A Windows key logo for a new generation

Along with the new hot keys, Microsoft has also updated the Windows key to stay consistent with its new logo.

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