As we’ve seen, there will be no shortage of tablet / laptop hybrids on offer when Windows 8 starts shipping this fall. But since those keyboard docks will typically be sold separately, that means you’re also about to see loads of third-party alternatives. Not to be left out, Microsoft just announced a Bluetooth mobile keyboard along with its smallest-ever mouse – both of which can be used with any Windows tablet.
Starting with that Wedge Mobile Keyboard, it resembles Zaggmate’s iPad case from 2010, in that it has a hard case to make it more travel-resilient. Here, though, the casing is made of flexible rubber, allowing it to double as a tablet stand. Putting it over the keys also turns the keyboard off, allowing you to conserve battery life. On board, you’ll also find hotkeys specific to certain Windows 8 features, such as the Charms Bar. And, as the name suggests, the keyboard rises a bit in the back, thanks to the battery door on the other side (this takes two AAA cells, by the way.) One caveat: though you can use it with Windows 7, 8 and RT, and even Mac OS X, but it’s not compatible with Vista. Sorry, folks.
The previous batch of sketches revealed during Apple v Samsung suggested the iPhone may have actually borrowed ideas from Sony, but a new filing goes back even further into history to show that’s not the case. The Verge spotted that the latest raft of paperwork includes a “Purple” prototype [above left] that was made around August 2005 and bears several hallmarks of the iPhone that finally appeared. The Sony-styled prototypes came later, and were apparently just an “enjoyable side project.” AllThingsD has also drawn together around 100 prototypes from Apple’s deposition, which offers some interesting insights into what the iPhone could have looked like.
Google’s been adding a lot of features lately to get us to Hangout, from providing digital moustaches to scheduling virtual soirees. Now, the company’s aiming to get folks video conferencing from their inbox. That’s right, you can now start a Hangout with up to nine friends or colleagues straight from Gmail with a click of a button. Users can expect better quality as compared to Gmail’s old peer-to-peer video chats, and it provides access to people with an Android or iOS device and those on Google+ in a web browser. The new feature has already started making its way to users, and the rollout will continue over the next few weeks. Still not ready to mix your Hangouts with email just yet? Perhaps the pair of videos after the break will persuade you.
We already knew that Microsoft would be upgrading its Touch Mouse to support Windows 8 gestures, but the outfit never confirmed which finger movements, exactly, would be built in. Now, Redmond is explaining it all, even though the mouse won’t actually get updated until Win8 goes on sale in late October. According to the company, you’ll be able to swipe two fingers to the right to toggle between open programs, and two to the left to expose those Charms. Sliding three fingers up and down will allow you to use Semantic Zoom. (Naturally, you’ll be able to swipe from side to side to move through the tiles on your Start screen, but you probably already guessed that.) We have a Touch Mouse here at Engadget HQ that we’re just itching to update, but until those drivers drop three months from now, it seems we’ll just have to find something else to keep us entertained.
Lots of hardware news coming out of Microsoft today. No, not that kind of hardware; just a lot of mice (and keyboards, too). In addition to that spiffy Wedge mouse and keyboard, the company just announced two products as part of a new “Sculpt” line. First up, there’s the Sculpt Touch Mouse, which isn’t all that different from this, except it works over Bluetooth, as opposed to a USB dongle. Unlike last year’s Touch Mouse, which got a software update today, this doesn’t have a full touch surface so much as a touch strip, so complex three-fingered gestures are out. Still, you can use it to swipe up and down, and from side to side. And, like other products in Microsoft’s lineup, it has BlueTrack technology, which allows it to be used on almost any surface. Interestingly, you’ll need Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows RT to use it, meaning Vista users are outta luck. Meanwhile, the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard is similar to last year’s Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000, only this time around it has hotkeys specific to Windows 8. Both products will be available “soon,” and will retail for $49.95.
The last we heard, all notions of a 10-inch PlayBook had been shelved, with rumors suggesting that RIM wanted to concentrate on its BB10 plans and next-gen smartphones instead. However, we’ve just received these images from Tinthe, showing off something that looks very much like the bigger BlackBerry slab. A handful of photos, comparing the tablet to the existing 7-incher and an iPad, were sent in by forum member quang3g, who appears to be involved in BlackBerry sales.
Looks-wise, the hardware’s largely unchanged, aside from the bigger footprint and a screen ratio that appears closer to the iPad competition, rather than the widescreen shape that arrived on RIM’s first tablet. According to the brief teardown shot, there’s a potent 7,250 mAh battery housed in the still-slim 10-inch frame, while it’s worth noting that the tablet also includes a SIM holder and cellular radio — though there’s not enough meat here to discern whether it deals in 4G or 3G (HSPA+) radio waves. While we wait for the official word on the existence (or cancellation) of this flavor of PlayBook, you can take a skeptical sideways glance at several more pictures of the tablet at the source below.
If you thought the Apple and Samsung legal tussles weren’t getting interesting enough, another filing has revealed that the father of all smartphones Galaxy has at least two Windows Phone 8 devices in the pipeline. According to the filing that’s been unearthed by The Verge, both are running on a dual-core 1.5Ghz Qualcomm MSM8960 chipset — which is currently Samsung’s chip of choice for LTE regions. The Odyssey looks set to be Samsung’s high-end Windows Phone, with a 4.65-inch high-definition Super AMOLED display and NFC ready for Microsoft’s own mobile payment plans. Meanwhile, the Marco will apparently forego the near-field delights and house a humbler 4-inch WVGA Super AMOLED screen, for a presumably gentler price. According to the legal documents, both devices are gearing up to launch in Q4 of this year — after we’ve seen Windows Phone 8 in its entirety.
Suidobashi Heavy Industries has put the finishing touches to its latest project, the 4.4-ton Kuratas. Mobile suit obsessives around the world can thank artist Kogoro Kurata and robotics expert Wataru Yoshizaki for the robot frame, which has space to house a pilot inside. The mech’s touchscreen UI even includes a Kinect-based movement interface and the shudder-inducing “smile-activated” twin BB gatling guns. You can customize your own diesel-powered beast in the dystopian gang colors of your choosing, but be advised: the $1.35 million price tag doesn’t include further customization options like a faux leather interior, cup holder or phone cubby. The Kuratas does, however, come with the ability to make phone calls direct from the cockpit, so you can tell your enemies that you’re coming for them.