TAIPEI, TAIWAN -- The computer mouse may be more than four decades old, but that doesn't stop peripheral vendors like Genius from innovating in this product category. Here at Computex Taipei, the Taiwanese accessory-maker showed off five new mice with intriguing built-in features, including webcams, speakers, batteries and multiple receivers.
If you've ever sat at your webcam-less desktop and wished you could shoot video or a photo, the $29.99 Genius Camera Mouse is for you. At first glance, the Camera Mouse looks like a typical 1,200 dpi wired mouse, but a panel on its bottom slides back to reveal a 2-MP lens. The mouse comes bundled with ArcSoft Webcam Companion, which helps you capture still images or HD video and even has a setting for QR code reading.
In our brief hands-on time, we found that the camera captured sharp, detailed images even in the mediocre lighting of Genius's booth. When we pointed the camera at a QR code on a piece of paper and selected the QR reader function in the software, the computer immediately launched a Web browser and navigated to geniusnet.com, the site indicated by the code.
Though the idea of having a camera in your mouse seems more like a novelty than a necessity, the mouse offers a wider range of angles than a typical webcam because you can pick it up and turn it to face toward anything you want. So if your toddler is playing in the corner and you're on a Skype call, you can quickly point the camera at him to show grandma. Of course, if you're using the mouse for a Skype call, you can't use it as a mouse while you're talking. It also lacks a dedicated microphone, so you'll need to use your computer's built-in microphone or another peripheral to capture sound. We also wish it were wireless so we could really move around with it.
The Camera Mouse will be available in the next few weeks in black, white or black with a teal accent.
The Genius Speaker Mouse features a 2.1 channel speaker in the bottom and a microphone for capturing sound. We had a chance to play a song on it at the Genius booth and audio output was extremely loud and clear. We liked the audio a lot, but in order to accommodate the speaker, the mouse is huge, so you'll need big hands to use it. Like the Camera Mouse, it's wired and operates at 1,200 dpi.
The Speaker Mouse should also cost around $29.99 and will be available in the weeks ahead. It comes in metallic yellow, red and teal.
Dual-Receiver Traveler D6600 Mouse
Our favorite mouse of the show by far is the Traveler D6600 wireless mouse, which solves a common problem in a unique and innovative way. If you've ever used a wireless 2.4-GHz mouse, you know what a hassle it is to unplug the receiver from one computer and plug it into another. If you want to pack your regular mouse for a trip, you have to pull out the receiver, but not if you have the Traveler D6600 (which comes with two different 2.4-GHz USB receivers).
Having dual receivers is great not only for traveling with your mouse but also for switching between devices in the same location. So if you have two computers or a computer on your desk and an Android Mini PC attached to your TV, you can use the two receivers and switch back and forth between them simply by hitting a button on the middle of the mouse. Also, if you lose a receiver you still have a spare.
In our brief hands-on, the mouse provided very accurate navigation and switched immediately between two different devices when we hit its button. We also appreciate that the mouse has docks for both receivers so you can take both with you.
Due out in the next few weeks, the Traveler D6600 should cost around $29.99.
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The Genius Energy Mouse looks like a normal 2.4-GHz wireless mouse, but it doubles as a portable phone and tablet charger. The mouse has a microUSB port that you can use to connect to a smartphone or tablet for charging. The internal 2,700mAH battery is enough to fully charge most phones and add a little extra endurance to most tablets.
Like the other mice Genius, the Energy Mouse should cost around $29.99 and arrive in the next few weeks.
If you want the microphone functionality of the Speaker Mouse but don't need the audio output and prefer a smaller form factor, Genius's Microphone Mouse is for you. It's the same size as the Camera Mouse but without the Camera. We wish the company would put the camera and microphone on the same model to make for better Skype calls. Maybe that will be in the next version.
The Microphone Mouse also should cost around $29.99 and ship in the next few weeks.