Nine years after introducing its first optical mouse, Microsoft has decided to tread some new ground with a brand-new optical sensor system. Fittingly, treading new ground is exactly what Microsoft claims its BlueTrack Technology does.
Instead of a laser or red LED, BlueTrack uses a blue beam to light up surfaces. Couple that with a "specular optics architecture," a special image sensor, and proprietary pixel geometry, and you get a mouse that supposedly works on "virtually any surface . . . from a granite kitchen countertop to the living room carpet." That said, Microsoft cautions that BlueTrack mice don't work on clear glass or mirrors (duh).
Microsoft has fitted two futuristic-looking mice with BlueTrack tech: the Explorer Mouse and Explorer Mini Mouse. Both products are wireless and come with little USB receivers that snap into the bottom of the mouse. To that, the Explorer adds a snap-in battery charging base, while the Explorer Mini's smaller docking base simply switches the mouse off (the Mini can supposedly last more than six months on one charge, compared to three weeks for its big brother).
Like all new technology, these latest mice won't be cheap. Microsoft quotes recommended prices of $99.95 for the Explorer and $79.95 for the Explorer Mini. On the upside, you'll have some time to mull over the purchase, since Microsoft says the mice won't become available until November.