Microsoft unveils new keyboards and mice for Windows 8 tablets

While Microsoft’s Surface is going head to head with its tablet partners, the company is also rolling out new hardware to help its Windows 8 allies. Coming soon are two new mice and two keyboards designed to complement tablets and laptops, plus an update to Microsoft’s Touch Mouse that supports Windows 8′s multi-finger gestures.

The star of the lineup is the Wedge Mobile Keyboard, which sports a cover that doubles as a flexible stand for slates. Here’s a quick rundown of these slick new Bluetooth peripherals.

Wedge Mobile Keyboard

It’s clear that Microsoft paid close attention to industrial design with the Wedge Mobile Keyboard ($79.95). It’s not only sleek but offers plenty of travel. The Wedge also includes dedicated keys for Windows 8, including a Start button and buttons you’d normally find under the Charms menu, such as Search, Share, Devices and Settings. Our favorite part of this keyboard is its integrated cover, which serves as a stand. The flexible but rigid material lets you position the Wedge at nearly any angle. Bonus: when you put the cover back on the keyboard automatically turns off to save power.

Wedge Touch Mouse

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Definitely one of the smallest mice we’ve laid our hands on, the Wedge Touch Mouse ($69.95) is ultra-compact and features four-way touch scrolling. Like previous Microsoft pointing devices, this one uses BlueTrack technology so you can use it on any surface, even if it’s a glass table or your jeans. A special Backpack Mode kicks in when your tablet or laptop goes into sleep mode, helping to save juice. Our only complaint is that the Wedge Touch doesn’t support two-finger scrolling or gestures.

Sculpt Mobile Keyboard

A value-priced alternative to the Wedge Keyboard, the $49.95 Sculpt Mobile Keyboard features Microsoft’s Comfort Curve design and weighs a little over a pound. To help you save battery life, the keyboard goes to sleep if you don’t use it for a while, and wakes back up with the push of a button.

Sculpt Touch Mouse

The scroll wheel is so last decade. Microsoft’s new Sculpt Touch Mouse ($49.95) comes with a four-way touch scroll strip, enabling users to easily zoom through the tiles on their Windows 8 Start screen or through any Metro-style app.

Microsoft Touch Mouse

No, the physical design isn’t new, but this mouse will feel new to anyone who pairs the device with a Windows 8 PC. A firmware update will enable the Microsoft Touch Mouse ($79.95) to support two-finger swiping from the left to switch apps and swiping from the right edge to show the Charms menu. You can also zoom with three fingers, and use your thumb to go backward and forward within an app, like the IE 10 browser.

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