Touch-based input devices are pretty close to ubiquitous these days. Notebooks have touchpads right below their keyboards, and just about every smartphone and tablet has touch capability embedded in its screen. Apple’s even gone so far as to release an appropriately Magical touchpad for desktops.
The next frontier for touch-based input appears to be mice. Microsoft has the Arc Touch mouse, of course, but it’s not the only one in the game. Mad Catz and Speedlink also make touch-based alternatives, and TechSpot has rounded up all three to see how they fare.
All of the mice are small wireless designs clearly intended for use with notebooks. Interestingly, there’s quite a bit of variety in how each manufacturer has implemented touch functionality. The Mad Catz Eclipse has a small touch area with two-axis scrolling and gesture support. Speedlink’s design turns the entire mouse surface into a touchpad, providing plenty of room for gestures but little comfort for one’s hand. The touch functionality built into Microsoft’s Arc Touch mouse seems to be the most limited of the bunch, although its “touchstrip” does provide a measure of tactile feedback.
None of the three look polished enough for me to take the plunge just yet, but I do quite like the idea of a desktop mouse with built-in gesture support. Such a mouse probably wouldn’t be ideal for games, but it could be great for desktop users who have grown accustomed using gestures on their notebooks. Going the Magic route with a giant desktop touchpad that loses the pointer precision offered by a mouse feels like one step too far, however.