August 31, 2004 5:10 PM PDT

Laser mouse conquers new surfaces

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Ever have the urge to run a mouse across ceramic tile, lacquered furniture, metal, photo paper or opaque glass? The Logitech MX 1000 laser cordless mouse is for you.

The Swiss-American mouse king will announce an optical mouse Wednesday that uses an Agilent Technologies laser, rather than a light-emitting diode, to track its movements. Because the laser light used in the MX 1000 relies on a short wavelength, the MX 1000 mouse is approximately 20 times more sensitive to surface details than conventional optical mice, according to the company.

As a result, the mouse can accurately transmit information about its motions to the computer when traveling across shiny or slick surfaces. By contrast, traditional mice can be confounded by subtle surfaces such as highly polished wood; optical tracking images sent back to the computer do not readily indicate that the mouse has moved, nor do they accurately replicate the movements.

"With a laser, (the mouse) is able to get more surface structure detail," company spokesman Nathan Papadopulos said. The mouse also tracks better over rough surfaces than regular optical mice, he added.

Logitech says the $79 MX 1000 is the first commercial mouse to come with a laser. The company will introduce a new line of keyboards later in the month, Papapdopulos said.

Meanwhile, rival Microsoft is expected to announce new peripheral products in the next week.

The new mouse is largely aimed at architects or graphic designers, who tend to have better office furniture than the bulk of humanity, or gamers and gadget fans, who like to buy unusual stuff. In a recent Logitech survey of 2,000 computer users, nearly two-thirds said they wanted mice to work on a wider variety of surfaces.

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The laser light emanating from the mouse can't be seen by the naked eye and is harmless, the company said. The laser beams through a polished silver ring at the bottom of the MX1000. The light bounces off the surface that the mouse is traveling across and beams the information back to a sensor, which then relays it to the computer. The sensor can capture 5.8 megapixels of details per second.

The MX 1000 features 10 control buttons, including a button in the thumb holster that enables users to switch applications. Horizontal navigation is also possible by nudging the scroll wheel, a feature in Microsoft mice.

The mouse charges in about three to four hours, and a charge lasts about 21 days.

While it manufacturers other peripherals, Logitech is primarily known for mice. Mouse inventor Doug Engelbart maintains an office at the company.

The MX 1000 will be available on Logitech's Web site on Wednesday and will appear on store shelves later this month.

 

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