Pros:Comfortable, well thought out, programmable keys
Cons:Large footprint, have to buy extra instead of coming with the computer
The Bottom Line: The Microsoft Ergonomic is a good keyboard to help you avoid repetitive motion injuries in your hands and wrists.
Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard
Earlier this spring I started to notice pain in my hands and wrists as I typed; I therefore purchased this keyboard which is supposed to allow you to type in a more natural posture. I've seen ergonomic keyboards at work given to folks who need a more user friendly keyboard for various injuries so they must be good.
I got the keyboard and it was easy to install. I just unplugged the standard keyboard and plugged the cord from the ergonomic keyboard into an open USB socket and the Windows found it and installed it.
The keyboard has a hump in the center and the keys are split into a pad of letters and numbers for each hand. The two halves of the keyboard are canted to allow your hands to hover over them at a natural angle with the fingers pointing in rather than making you hold your hands straight ahead like the regular keyboard. There is a broad padded wrist support also as part of the keyboard so with the shaping and wrist support you have something much more comfortable than a straight keyboard from the git go.
Another feature that is different is the top row of the keyboard is lower in elevation than the bottom where the spacebar is. When you observe how your hands work, it only makes sense to be that way as your fingertips hang down below your wrist rather than the reverse as you are required to hold your hands unnaturally when the top of the keyboard is higher than the bottom as it is on the traditional straight keyboard.
There is also a row of keys above the function keys that can be programmed to do shortcuts of repetitive keystrokes you may do. This requires loading the driver on the CD provided with the keyboard. I loaded the driver but didn't program any keys because I'm a touch typist and feel pretty good just with the numbers and letters as they are. My typing consists of mostly these Word documents without a lot of bells and whistles but I needed something more natural to prevent damage to my wrists.
There are also dedicated keys for volume for music and zoom which will allow you to blow up or shrink pictures as you require.
Typing does take a little care to learn to place your fingers right because the keyboard is split. A few of the keys are different sizes than on the straight keyboard but they are in the normal QWERTY sequence. Hunt and peck typists will probably adapt pretty well to the new arrangement. The space bar is huge and sticks up pretty high. One thing is the footprint of the keyboard is about twice as big as one of the straight keyboards so you need adequate space. For me it is no big deal because I want to take care of my wrists but if you are trying to keep everything in a small area of desk space it may not fit.
After typing on the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard for a few months I feel it is a valid replacement for the standard keyboard. I have learned to type about as speedily as I did before and my wrists feel better without the pain I was starting to develop with the straight non-ergonomic keyboard. For touch typists, you do have to learn to place your hands properly on the keyboard but then it works quite naturally and is a lot more comfortable over a long typing session.