Microsoft announces "ultimate" $250 keyboard set

Redmond (WA) - So you already have sunk your savings into that dual-core PC with dual-graphics and a large flat panel display. If your keyboard and mouse of you sparkling new system now look like the plastic dash in a $75,000 Corvette, then there's a solution. Microsoft will soon be offering new "desktop" sets consisting of fancy keyboards and mice.

Shortly after the release of Windows Vista in January 2007, Microsoft plans to introduce its Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 as its new top-of-the-line keyboard and mouse combination. The design of the device may not be perceived as cutting edge everywhere, but materials and color choices promise a quality feel and Microsoft threw in about every feature that XP and Windows users could ask for these days.

Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000

Most notably, the keyboard and mouse, both wireless, carry batteries that can be recharged in docking stations of the 8000 system. Microsoft said that a full charge takes about 90 minutes and the keyboard can be used during the charging process. Among the features of the keyboard is automated backlighting that allows users to dim room lights when watching a video or playing a game on the PC - without losing sight of the keyboard controls.

The 1" thin, Bluetooth-based 8000 keyboard comes with a few Vista and XP specific buttons such as a new Start button and a speed dial feature for web conferencing. There are also three USB ports that are integrated into the device. Complementing the keyboard is the Laser Mouse 8000, which integrates customizable button functions and works with "virtually no latency," Microsoft said. The set will be available in February of next year and carry a price tag of about $250.

Wireless Laser Mouse 8000

For $100 less, the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 also includes the 8000 Mouse and offers a similar look, but cannot be recharged and will stay dark when the lights go out. Subtract another $50 for a price of $100 and you will be offered the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 6000 (with 6000 mouse) that looks more like Microsoft previous curved keyboards and includes all the basics of a multimedia and Internet-focused keyboard. The 7000 set will go on sale in January of next year, the 6000 is available now. The Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 will hit store shelves in October and carry a $90 price tag.