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Microsoft's Sexy Arc Touch Mouse -- Seriously

When you think of Microsoft, it's all about the software -- Windows and Word in the office, MSN and Bing online, Visual Basic and C# for developers. Oh, and there's gaming with the Xbox, and portable devices with Windows Phone and Zune.

While these groups get a lot of attention and can inspire passionate fandom or hostility, there's one more group within Microsoft that has a less exotic but still strong history of producing solid and functional products.

The Microsoft Hardware group produces PC accessories including mice, keyboards, and more recently, webcams. And these are not just prosaic plain-old devices, they have evolved to be more stylish, functional, and usable -- and even, if we dare say so -- sexy.

Yes, the designers at the Hardware group have been cooking, and exhibit A is the clever Arc Mouse, introduced last year with a comfortable curved design that folds up for travel (see earlier post).

And now Microsoft is back with a new and even more ingenious version -- the Arc Touch Mouse. Instead of folding up, the Arc Touch Mouse straightens out to lay flat for storage, or to tuck into your pocket. To use it, you just bend it up into an arc for a comfortable fit in either hand.

To make the fit more compact, the Arc Touch has no protruding buttons -- the left and right buttons are flush, and the center click wheel is replaced with a touch strip that you can tap, slide, and flick to control scrolling actions. There's also no power button -- you just flatten it out to turn it off, and curve it up to turn it on.

The face of the Arc Touch is just large enough for 2 AAA batteries, which can power the mouse for up to 6 months. It uses Microsoft's BlueTrack laser technology that works on a variety of difficult surfaces -- rough, glossy, and soft (though not clear glass or mirrored).

The Arc Touch connects to your PC with 2.4 GHz wireless technology, with a range of up to 30 feet. It uses a tiny wireless USB transceiver that sticks out under a 1/4 inch from your laptop's USB port. For storage, the USB dongle snaps magnetically onto the bottom of the mouse, though you may want to pack it more carefully if you are carrying the mouse loose in your pocket or briefcase.

The Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse is now available for $69. Smart and sexy, indeed.

See my Portable Peripherals and Accessories Gallery for more on these and related products.

   Find the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse on Amazon

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