CES - Microsoft aims new keyboard at gamers

Microsoft announced a gaming keyboard at CES that automates maneuvers and provides quicker response time

Microsoft tried to draw the attention of gamers at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, announcing a keyboard that automates maneuvers and provides quicker response time.

Microsoft's Reclusa [CQ] keyboard has new features designed to make gaming easier. It has jog dials on the top right and top left corners to go up and down menus, control volume, rotate views and execute maneuvers such as steering in a racing game, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.

In addition to six programmable hotkeys, the Reclusa has four "Bumper Buttons," located on the edges, that can be programmed to automate maneuvers such as switching weapons or attacking an opponent. With the buttons, users can quickly execute maneuvers while keeping a hand on the mouse. They can also create game profiles that store keyboard maps and macros for specific games.

The keyboard has incorporated Razer USA's Hyperesponse technology, which Microsoft claims reduces the lag time between pressing a key and getting a response.

The Reclusa has a detachable wrist pad with a leather surface, the spokeswoman said. The keys are backlit with blue LEDs (light-emitting diodes) for use in the dark. Other gaming peripherals can be attached to USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports on the top left and top right corners of the keyboard.

The keyboard is compatible with all Windows games and works with Windows Vista and XP. However, it is not compatible with Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console, the spokeswoman said. The keyboard will ship in the first quarter for an estimated retail price of US$69.95.

Microsoft also upgraded software for its Fingerprint Reader, a biometric device that manages user passwords with fingerprint scans. The new software simplifies controls for the device on Vista and makes it easier for users to import and export passwords when switching machines.

Previously, users had to re-enter passwords on every computer when using Fingerprint Reader with multiple PCs, but the new software allows users to save the passwords on a CD or flash media and move them over, the spokeswoman said.

Windows Vista will include many security features, such as password-enabled data protection and parental control, and the updated Fingerprint Reader software works with those features to make authentication easier, the spokeswoman said.

The software upgrade is available free to current Fingerprint Reader owners, the spokeswoman said. The Fingerprint Reader is available worldwide for an estimated retail price of US$39.95.

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