Pros:Well designed key layout, padded wrist rests and numerous special function keys
The Bottom Line: I would highly recommend this keyboard for anyone that has had their doctor recommend a ergonomic keyboard.
We received several requests from users at work for ergonomic keyboards and I was given the task of selecting which one we were going to purchase where I work. After careful consideration I selected the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.
Recommend this product?
For those of you that are not familiar what an ergonomic keyboard is designed for here is the definition of what is meant by ergonomic keyboard;
An ergonomic keyboard is a computer keyboard designed with ergonomic considerations to minimize muscle strain and a host of related problems.
Now what it means from a users perspective, it is an oversized keyboard with a hump in the middle that splits the key setup of a standard keyboard in two halves. The design of the keyboard is supposed to allow for the more natural movement of your fingers and wrists. Microsoft added an extra benefit that haven’t seen on any other brand ergonomic keyboard; padded wrist pads. This adds to comfort of the curved design of the keys to help relax your hands when typing for long periods of time.
Microsoft also added a plastic extension that attaches to the bottom of the keyboard at bottom edge to lift the lower portion of the keyboard. I have only had one user that chose to keep the extension on it, most preferred to remove it. Beyond the unique shape of the ergonomic keyboard you will notice a few other additions on this ergonomic keyboard; special function keys at the top and special relocation of a few keys.
Special Function Keys
I wanted to elaborate on the special keys that I just mentioned. I have been in the computer service industry for more than 14 years and one thing I have heard from end users is that shortcuts make their life so much easier. Well that is exactly what these special function keys are designed to do on this keyboard. Across the top edge of the dark gray keyboard you will find a row of silver colored keys; Web/Home, Search and Mail on the left side and My Favorites in the Center just below a row of five more silver keys numbered 1-5 and on right hand side you will find volume controls (plus, minus and mute) and a calculator button. There are a few extra buttons on the keyboard and one of them is a slide button labeled Zoom and a pair of buttons mark back and forward. These extra buttons are situated in the areas opened by split of the two halves of the keyboard and between the two padded sections on the wrist rests. Along with the unique hump in the middle, you will also notice that the bottom set of keys are uniquely shaped and over sized as compared to a standard keyboard layout.
My final thoughts
This Microsoft ergonomic keyboard has been a great find for our users that suffer from wrist ailments and other related issues. The contoured shape of the keys padded wrist rests are very comfortable for them. For me, it really presents an extra challenge, I am a two finger hunt and peck kind of guy and the unusual design make it tough for me after first. But after a while to get used to them I can use them quite proficiently.
The installation was quite simple; plug in the USB plug into an open slot and you are ready to go. Now, if you want to use all of the special function keys that I talked about earlier, you will need to load the driver that is contained on the CD. Once you put in the CD it will ask you which model keyboard you have it will load the appropriate software that is needed for all the features and functions of your keyboard.
After the software is loaded you simply double click the icon on your desktop and it will step you through the setup process of all the special function keys. Fortunately I didn’t need to mess around with all the setup of the function keys.
I would like to point out one possible downside to this keyboard is that it is rather large in size, much larger than a standard 122 key keyboard and it might be difficult to fit in a desk that has a drawer for the keyboard. I wouldn’t call it a deal breaker, but I wanted to point it out.
If you have recently been told by your doctor that you would benefit greatly by using an Ergonomic type keyboard, I would highly recommend you look carefully at the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.
Amount Paid (US$): 40.00