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Thread: [Review] Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

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    [Review] Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

    Review - Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

    Right, this is my first review for a hardware product, so bare with me! n00b alert!

    Anyway, on to the product at hand. The Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. I actually brought 2 of them at work as I was starting to suffer the strain from constantly typing on my standard IBM/Lenovo keyboards. The Natural Keyboard seemed the correct way to go. The first shock you get when you open the box is that which is not really apparent from most advertised pictures. This being the "comfort curve". I've taken a picture to demonstrate what I mean:



    It is surprisingly quite a high slope and takes some getting used to. I am still getting used to it after using it for 3 days. However, it is apparent almost immediately after you begin to use the product that it is more comfortable on the wrists. In fact, it may feel uncomfortable to start with because we have become so accustomed to the standard keyboard design.



    I've taken this picture demonstrating the general advertised picture that you will see and it isn't immediately apparent about the raised curve. It isn't so much an issue but may affect the purchasing decision of some users who may want the flat keyboard effect with the curvature in the keys.

    Moving on to the subject of keys, they are similarly placed to most of the old Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard. I have personally experienced some problems getting used to the size of some of the keys being larger than others:



    The rather large "N" key that can be seen in this photo is the largest alphanumeric key on the keyboard and in going to type the "M" key you will occasionally find yourself hitting the "N" key. Not so much a problem for neowin.net but a pain for google.con... sorry I mean .com

    Also, I've noticed that the space bar at first can seem a rather stiff press unless your fingers, or thumbs, as you will find the more you use the keyboard, meet the large sweet spots on the left and right sides.

    Then on the other side of the scale you have rather large keys to smaller than usual keys. With most UK Keyboards, the Enter (Return) button is a large shaped button. However, on this keyboard the button has been "slimed" down in size and again will take some slight finger adjustment to get used to the button and not accidently typing the "#" key.



    On to the hotkeys. You have the usual Microsoft suspects. On the left hand side:

    Web/Home - Launches your home page in your chosen default Internet Browser.
    Search - Launches the Microsoft Search utility. Presumably this will launch Windows Desktop Search if installed.
    Mail - Launches your default email client.

    On the right hand side Mute, Volume Up, Volume Down, Play/Pause and Calculator. All self explanatory me thinks!



    In the middle you have 5 customisable "My Favorites" buttons that will launch any application of your choosing once you have installed the included Microsoft drivers and just below there is a "My Favorites" button that launches a menu displaying what each button is configured to. (Note: US spelling for UK Keyboard! )

    Just above the space bar there is a kind of scroll button that moves up and down that will zoom in when shifted up and out if shifted down. So far however I have only maaged to get this working in Microsoft applications. In Firefox it merely acts as a page scrolling button except that it is inverted, so that shifting up moves the page down and vice versa. As far as I can see, there is no way to reverse this. The software will allow you to turn zooming off, which will also turn off the scrolling, but not allow inversion. I don't think the scrolling was Microsoft's intention anyway.

    The keyboard also comes with an additional stand that can clip on to the front allowing the user to prop the keyboard up higher than normal like so:



    Personally I found this too uncomfortable and have left it without the stand.

    The wrist rest at the bottom of the keyboard is nicely padded. It's firm enough so that your wrists don't dig and sink in to the padding, yet not too firm so that it causes discomfort. The keyboard indicators and Back/Forward buttons are also in this location and personally I find them (Back/Forward buttons) a bit useless in this area and think they would have been better suited elsewhere as it is easier to reach elsewhere on the keyboard as your fingers can reach the upper area of the keyboard easier than the lower padded area if you take into account the common position of your hands when typing.

    A last thing to note is that the F Lock is now turned on by default allowing the F1-F12 buttons be used as opposed to the Microsoft shortcuts which I personally rarely use, or at least use less than the F1-F12 keys.

    To summarise, the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 is a very good product and very well designed in terms of ergonomics. There are some flaws like placement of the Back/Forward buttons, the Zoom function having such a prominent position yet not working in all applications and some of the alphanumeric keys being rather larger than they should. It will take a while getting used to, especially for established typists but is definitely a worthy purchase to save your aching wrists!



    Overall Rating: 7.5/10

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    Re: [Review] Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

    Can't say i like the look of the keyboard. Nice review though.

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    Re: [Review] Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

    I've got two of these - work and home and I love them. I can't say I make any use of the zoom thing but the placement of keys is just right for me (I touch type anyway). I think one thing you've skipped on is how great a security device they are - they sure keep people from using your machine

    And WTF with the spam post zercath?
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    Re: [Review] Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

    I am also a massive fan of these keyboards. Been using the natural keyboards since MS launched their first one in 99/2000 I think it was. I have the wired 4000 at work and I got the wireless one for home. Great keyboards to use on a daily basis

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