updated 11:45 am EDT, Wed September 1, 2010
Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse made official
Microsoft today confirmed its repeatedly teased controller, the Arc Touch Mouse. The design is considered the first mouse to completely fold flat for travel and uses its namesake touch to achieve the goal: the center strip both serves for scrolling and as a multi-purpose area that handles middle-clicks and page up/down. Haptic feedback helps compensate for the absence of the detents that would normally accompany a physical scroll wheel.
Like most of Microsoft's newer mice, the Arc Touch finds its position with a BlueTrack blue laser and uses a very small USB receiver to beam input over RF wireless. The decision to skip Bluetooth gives it about six months of use, even with AAA batteries.
Pre-orders start later today at Amazon, Best Buy and Buy.com, but shipments won't start until early December, when the Arc Touch will cost $70. Most outlets should have the mouse by January.
In unveiling the mouse, Microsoft also made an attempt to reclaim ground from Apple's Magic Trackpad by insisting that the Arc Touch Mouse is a revival. It acknowledged that touchscreens and touchpads were growing but rejected the idea that the "mouse's days are numbered." A third of notebook buyers still get a mouse with the system, the company claimed.
"The reasons people need external mice will not change: comfort and precision," Hardware Group lead Brett Ostrum said.
The statements show a degree of sensitivity at Microsoft, as Apple has readily said it doesn't expect a revolution in which the Magic Trackpad replaces the mouse. However, it has been one of the most vocal proponents of touchscreens and multi-touch trackpads and could cast doubt on a traditional keyboard-and-mouse model.