Pros: Helps alleviate pain and repetitive stress injuries from typing.
Cons: A bit unnatural at first, and stiff space bar key.
I type a lot. I type for work. I type for Epinions. I type for online gaming. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that I occasionally get very painful pinched nerves and carpal tunnel syndrome. Pinched nerves in the neck can develop from a repetive posture at the computer, and will result in pains shooting up and down your entire arm and hand. Sometimes it feels like a knife or a flame inside your arm. Other times, the pain is more like pins and needles as if your arm fell asleep. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs in the wrist, also from repetitive movements from typing. It is equally painful.
I have been to a chiropractor, used ice packs, used pain medications and anything else for relief. I even took time off from typing, although since my job requires typing, that doesn't come easily. One solution I arrived at was preventing future carpal tunnel problems and pinched nerves through ergonomics. Ergonomics means the practical comfortable and healthy design of items to accomodate the human form.
Microsoft's Natural Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard
This Microsoft keyboard is designed to reduce repetitive stress injuries. The box claims that it has been proven to reduce these type of injuries. It literally is designed to reposition your hands so that you type in a more natural fashion and reduce risk due to typing. The keyboard is almost twice as large as my old keyboard, it seems oversized with a big mound inthe middle. The keyboard is like a small hill with my hands poised on the sides of it. The wrist supports are built right in, and the keys are laid out on each half, split in the middle. The keys themselves are slanted a bit to naturally accomodate your fingers. The whole design forces your hands, fingers and wrists to rest more naturally on the keyboard.
Typing on the Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard
Typing with this keyboard isn't too difficult if you know how to type and are used to typing on a QWERTY keyboard. Those of you who hunt and peck may be at a loss. However if you learned to actually type, it isn't too much of a stretch to adjust to this board. I did occasionally have to look down to make sure my hands were on the appropriate keys, but once I realized where they belonged on this new keyboard, I was okay and typing along.
My biggest complaint is that the keys seemed rather stiff, especially the space key. I wonder if the whole thing needs a bit of DW-40, I don't like to have to press down hard on the keys. I do plan to call Microsoft to see if that is normal. I don't notice it so much on any of the keys except the space bar. The special keys (Numbers, symbols, numerical keypad, functions) are all in the same spots that they are normally. A couple special extra buttons are also present. Although no key gives you a quick shot of cortisone, a key in the middle allows you to zoom in and some front and back keys allow you to navigate the web easily. In short, for typers who type, it'sa quick adjustment to start typing on this keyboard, and I really didn't take me more than an hour to adjust to typing on this board.
Although the keyboard comes with software (for the special function keys), I tend to use my keyboard to type, and don't really use any other special function keys except for standard ones. You can just plug the keyboard in, it uses a USB port. I guess keyboards just don't plug into the old keyboard port anymore, the last several I have purchased all used the USB port. I don't like wireless keyboards, because I don't like anything that takes an extra charge or batteries. However, the keyboard was operational right after plugging it in.
Software allows you to assign special functions to any of the function keys, and adjust the speed of repeated letters or the zoom function. I like the zoom function, because occasionally type is too small for me to see. I guess I am getting old, but being able to quickly zoom a page larger so that I can easily read it at the flip of a switch is handy. I haven't assigned any special functions, but the software makes it easy.
Does it Work?
After recovering from almost a month of painful carpal tunnel syndrome, I was able to start typing again on this keyboard without a searing sensation of pain flowing from my fingertips to my shoulders. Before I got this keyboard, anytime I attempted to type for any lenght of time, I would get either pain or pins and needles all up and down my arm. I have been able to resume typing, and it doesn't seem uncomfortable. I typed this whole review on the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard.
If you've ever suffered a repetitive stress injury, pinched nerves or carpal tunnel from typing on your computer, you may seriously want to look into getting a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard. It does help me typing. It still doesn't quite feel natural, and I don't like that the space bar still feels stiff, but I will give this keyboard 4 stars.