Bits & Bytes
A BETTER-MOUSETRAP MOUSE
In most industries, history is measured as a series of better and better mousetraps. In computers, though, the focus is on the mouse itself. Microsoft Corp. has crammed "nearly two years of comprehensive research" into designing its latest handheld pointing device. The main features, according to Microsoft, include "hand plane support, lower palm anchoring, a distal control environment, an optimized ball weight and placement, and software supported grip pattern flexibility." Translation: Compared with earlier models, it's easier for both lefties and righties to use. At list prices of $109 and up, the product comes with updated software and a money-back comfort guarantee.
The lowly mouse pad is also getting its share of innovation. Forminco's Mouse Arena replaces the usual slab of textured foam rubber with a snazzy chrome-trimmed circular plastic pad. It features an adjustable wrist support meant to increase comfort during prolonged mouse usage. And there's a metal spiral to keep the mouse's wire tail out of harm's way. Mouse Arena is available for $25 at chain stores including Egghead Software and Staples. EDITED BY CATHERINE ARNST