A mouse that talks

MouseTalk can be used as Skype-certified handset (or other VoIP software application).

MouseTalk, a USB mouse, can become a Skype-certified handset (or other VoIP software application).

What it is: A USB mouse with the Vaio branding, this peripheral also opens up to become a Skype-certified handset (or other VoIP software application). When used as a mouse, it operates as a three-button mouse with 800-dot-per-inch resolution. When opened up to become a VoIP handset, the scroll button can be used to mute calls or raise and lower the volume. Other voice features are echo cancellation and a blue LED that indicates incoming calls.

Sony's MouseTalk combines a mouse, VoIP handset

Why it's cool: Because I love when two seemingly different technologies converge into one device, I was fascinated by the combination of VoIP handset and mouse. This device is meant for mobile workers who travel and want the portability of a travel mouse and a VoIP handset without carrying two devices. You also can use the device as a hands-free speakerphone by opening the clamshell halfway.

Some caveats: Once you open the clamshell device to use it as a phone, you lose the ability to mouse around; you need to start your phone calls first, then open the device. As a handset, the hard plastic becomes uncomfortable on your ears after a while, and the sound quality was lower than that of other Skype-enabled handsets I've tried. This should only be used when traveling, because the size and portability are excellent - as an office or home phone/mouse, there are better options.

Grade: 3½ stars (out of five)

The scoop: BlueConsole2, serial-to-Bluetooth adapter, from BlueConsole, about $130.

What it is: A serial-to-Bluetooth adapter, it converts a serial port to Bluetooth, so you can connect from a mobile device to manage or configure any serial device.

BlueConsole2 uses Bluetooth to manager serial devices

Why it's cool: Laptops rarely have serial ports anymore, so you've probably been using a serial-to-USB dongle when you need to talk to the console port of a device. The folks at BlueConsole have a better idea: Get out of the cold, noisy, badly lit computer room and use Bluetooth instead. The BlueConsole2 weighs less than an ounce, is about the same size as a 9-volt battery and acts as a serial-to-Bluetooth adapter. Sit at your desk (as long as you're within Bluetooth range, about 30 feet or so), and manage wirelessly. The BlueConsole2 is especially cool because it draws power from the serial port, which means you don't need a power brick. For devices without enough power, a 9-volt adapter lets you attach a battery to the end. We tested our device with Mac OS X, Windows and a Symbian cell phone. We're never going back to that old USB-to-serial console cable!

Roving Networks also sent us two of its Bluetooth-to-serial adapters, the BluePort II and the BluePort XP. The XP solves the power problem with an internal battery. An external power adapter can charge the XP when the internal battery runs down.

Grade: 4½ stars

Special Cool Tools Correspondent Joel Snyder contributed to this report. New Cool Tools Video Show every Thursday at www.networkworld.com/video.

Learn more about this topic

Plantronics debuts VoIP Bluetooth headset


VoIP gear highlighted at CES


Microsoft continues to build IP licensing portfolio


Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey: The results are in