Windows 8 is loaded with support for numerous gestures. These gestures are mostly aimed at tablets and touchscreens, but they work pretty well on notebook touchpads. We've started seeing desktop keyboards incorporate Win8-friendly touchpads, as well. The first one popped up in Japan with a premium price tag. Now, a more affordable example is headed for North American shores. Say hello to Genius' SlimSar T8020, which is selling for only $37.
The SlimStar has a notebook-style chiclet array backed by scissor switches. Instead of a traditional numpad, it offers a large touch surface with three modes. The touchpad can be configured to control mouse movement, activate OS gestures, or act as a numpad. I'm a little surprised to see the mouse-tracking and gesture modes separated, but that arrangement makes sense if you want to combine gesture support with a traditional mouse.
With a relatively slim body and a weight of only 0.6 lbs, the SlimStar looks like an especially interesting candidate for home-theater PCs. The keyboard offers 2.4GHz RF wireless connectivity and comes with a tiny USB dongle for the host system. Secondary media functions abound, and power is provided by a couple of AAA batteries.
I spend far too much time punching numbers into Excel to want to give up the mechanical numpad on my desktop, but I still find the SlimStar's hybrid design appealing. Maybe I need to pick up one of Logitech's standalone gesture pads.