Hot Summer Hardware

Microsoft Adds Wireless Bundle To Ergonomic Desktop Line
Microsoft puts its best ergonomic input hardware into a wireless mouse-and-keyboard combo designed to help you keep your arms and wrists aligned while giving a more comfortable, baseball-style grip on the mouse,

Calling it “the pinnacle of comfort” for typists with sore wrists and tired fingers, Microsoft Corp. has introduced the Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000 — a $150 bundle of its Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 and a new, cordless version of the popular Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, with software features ranging from a zoom slider and screen magnifier to an instant view of all open windows at once.

Automatically linked at installation to a tiny 2.4GHz wireless USB transceiver, the keyboard and mouse work at distances up to 30 feet from the PC. The gull-wing design of the keyboard reduces reach and unnecessary motion, with a 12-degree split and 14-degree gable to encourage better wrist and arm alignment.

The elevated thumb scoop and vertical right side of the mouse let your hand rest comfortably on its side, rather than on the carpal tunnel area. Each component features a glowing, two-color battery life indicator. The combo will reach retailers in July.

New MacBook Pro Line Includes Apple’s First LED-Backlit Display
Apple polishes its premier notebooks’ 15-inch displays with energy-efficient LED backlighting and its 17-inch models with high (1,920 x 1,200) resolution, not to mention Nvidia’s best mobile graphics and Intel Core 2 Duo procesors. Prices start at $1,999.

Support for Windows Vista’s DirectX 10 isn’t an issue for Mac OS X, but Apple has freshened its flagship MacBook Pro portables with Nvidia’s newest GeForce 8600M GT graphics anyway. Intel Core 2 Duo processors with 4MB of Level 2 cache are also standard, with 15-inch-screened models featuring Apple’s first mercury-free, LED-backlit display.

The 5.4-pound, 15-inch (1,440 by 900) MacBook Pro is available with either a 2.2GHz or 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor for $1,999 or $2,499, respectively; the upper model also boasts a 160GB versus 120GB hard disk and the 256MB rather than 128MB version of the GeForce 8600M GT. Weighing in at $2,799 and 6.8 pounds, the 17-inch MacBook Pro combines the 2.4GHz processor with a 1,680 by 1,050-resolution display; a 1,900 by 1,200-pixel panel is a $100 option.

All three models include 2GB of DDR-2/667 memory; a slot-load DVD±RW SuperDrive; a DVI-out port with VGA-out adapter and dual-link support for Apple’s 30-inch Cinema HD monitor; a built-in iSight video camera; AirPort Extreme 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.0 wireless; an ExpressCard/34 expansion slot; and Apple’s MagSafe AC adapter that safely disconnects in case of a tug or stumble. Options include a 200GB or 250GB hard disk and expansion to 4GB of memory.

Sony Slimline Notebook Comes in Funky Colors
Sony’s new mid-market laptop has anything but middle-of-the-road styling — the $1,350 Core 2 Duo portable can be had in juicy colors. The 5.5-pound, 14.1-inch-widescreen notebook also features instant-on access to music, movies and photos.

There’s a basic black model (sold online only), but Sony Electronics’ newest notebooks prefer to strut their stuff in sangria, cosmopolitan, dove and indigo gloss finishes with silver trim and a an LED that glows and fades as the PC’s booting up, powering down or hibernating. If that’s not flashy enough, the Vaio CR laptops offer optional, color-coordinated travel bags and mice.

Under the hood, the 5.5-pound CR features Intel’s 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo T7100 processor and GMA X3100 graphics; 2GB of memory; 802.11n wireless networking; and a built-in Web cam and microphone for video calls. Instant-on and A/V controls provide on-demand access to media content. The 14.1-inch widescreen display flaunts Sony’s XBrite-Eco technology, while an S-Video port serves people who’d rather watch DVDs or view presentations on the big screen. The Vaio CR notebooks will ship at the end of this month starting at $1,350.

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