The launch of Windows 8 also brings an opportunity for PC makers to release third-party peripherals that complement the push for touch sensitivity. If you're planning to purchase tablet, laptop, desktop, or some combination of the three, these accessories let you get hands-on with your new computer, because let's face it -- a touch-based device is only as good as the accessories available for it.
Many of the devices in this list already have reviews, but we'll continue to add products as they emerge. Head here for a comprehensive list of every major computer launching with Windows 8 or RT.
The Sculpt Comfort Keyboard has some useful touches in its removable wrist rest, the front-side support feet, and its Windows 8-specific hot keys, but overall the keyboard has an overstuffed quality to it. From the too-soft key response, to the thick wrist rest and giant space bar, the Sculpt comes across as cumbersome. And although it might be interesting to reexamine your relationship with the space bar, the keyboard itself gets in the way of any fun you might have experimenting with it. Input device preferences are highly personal, of course, so you may find what Microsoft has done here is just right. Just be sure to get some hands-on time with the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard before you make a purchase. Those used to crisp-feeling typing hardware will likely want to keep looking. Read the full review here.
If you don't want to wait for the Wedge Touch Mouse to become more affordable, you can always look into the $49.95 Sculpt Touch Mouse. The Sculpt has a BlueTrack sensor like the Wedge Touch Mouse, but it has only a four-way scroll strip, rather than the Wedge's surface-spanning touch input. While the Sculpt is most definitely a travel mouse, it also seemed a touch larger than the Wedge. That and its familiar shape might make the Sculpt a better fit if you want a mobile mouse for more serious work. Read the full review here.
The smallest of Microsoft mousing army, the Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse doesn't aim to reinvent the PC's long-standing companion so much as to make it a lot smaller. You may be using a full-size touch pad with your Windows 8 desktop, but for tablets you might crave the opposite: a mouse to make that touch-controlled computer feel more like an old-fashioned desktop. The Wedge Touch Mouse is an elegant, well-designed ultraportable mouse, but it's not revolutionary. It's meant to add traditional input to a hybrid device like a Windows 8 tablet, not offer any advanced touch-pad functions. I've often wished that the iPad had mouse connectivity to go with a keyboard; add a keyboard like Microsoft's Wedge Mobile Keyboard, and you'll have a pretty (and pricey) portable desk set. Read the full review here.
Though it's meant to be paired with Windows 8 hardware, the Wedge Mobile Keyboard's Bluetooth connectivity makes it compatible with nearly any modern computer or mobile device. The keyboard itself is sturdy and responsive, but just as useful is the rubber cover that doubles as a tablet stand. Though an expensive addition to your Windows 8 arsenal at $79, its simple, versatile design for the stand, the strong keyboard, and an assortment of thoughtful touches make this keyboard one of the best tablet accessories to date, and an easy recommendation. Read the full review here.
The Logitech Zone Touch Mouse localizes its touch sensitivity to the top of the mouse, where the scroll wheel would normally sit. In its place, you'll find a glass touch zone that responds to the motion of your fingers for vertical and horizontal scrolling. Better still, the T400 uses Logitech's Unifying receiver technology that lets you use a single USB plug that can connect up to six compatible mice and keyboards. Just keep in mind that buying into the Unifying connection means also marrying into the Logitech family of peripherals as well.
If you're shopping for a mouse to use exclusively with a Windows 8 machine, the Logitech Touch Mouse T620 is your answer. Featuring full navigation controls across the entire surface of the mouse, this input device keeps the gestures coming with quick-swipe controls to access the Windows 8 Start screen, switching application, show or hide the desktop, and bring up the Charm Bar. The company also gives you the option to use a single AA battery for light travel, or two AAs that doubles the life span to an impressive six-month run time.
Logitech's standalone touch pad frees your fingers with support for up to 13 different gestures including Windows 8 application shortcuts, organizing Windows, switching applications, and navigating through Web pages. An included USB cable charges the Touchpad while you're using it, and the company claims that a single charge will net you up to a month of pinching, scrolling, squeezing, and swiping bliss. We'll test this claim for the full review, coming soon.
Announced at the same time as its 27-inch and 23-inch touch screen all-in-one desktops, Acer will also offer two Windows 8 displays with edge-to-edge aesthetics and an asymmetrical stand for viewing in the typical horizontal position as well as an 80 degree lean that places the monitor nearly flush against a flat surface for touch-centric activities like playing games and swiping through snapshot photo albums. The 23-inch Acer T232HL and the 27-inch Acer T272HL both max out at 1,920x1,080 pixels for full HD resolution, but only the larger Ts272HJL will sport a vertical Alignment (VA) panel. Both units go on sale this month for $500 and $700, respectively.
The S2340T is the company's first multitouch monitor with full 10-point touch support for Windows 8. Like the Acer monitors up there, the articulate display and anchor on the back let you orient the display in a variety of forward, backward, or completely flat positions, while an embedded camera, microphone, and speakers let you get the most out of a virtual play date. The S2340T is available now for $700.