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I bought this keyboard about a year ago now after using one at work and loving the feel, But the biggest plus by far is being able to type for moderate to long periods without wrist strain or being uncomfortable in the forearm.
The keyboard comes plug and play, just literally plug it into your pc via USB slot and away you go it will self install, mine also came with an installation CD.
This keyboard is pretty big as far as keyboards go so will take up quite a bit of desk space what with the wrist rest attached to it as well, the keyboard slightly slants up towards the centre making your wrists sit at a more comfortable angle there is also a gap in the middle of the keyboard going vertically so it almost feels like you are using 2 small keyboards, one for each hand which makes it so you don't even have to move your hands once they are on the keyboard!
The extra "out of the ordinary" buttons on the keyboard are as follows:-
Back & forward button located at the front of the keyboard, these two buttons control the back and forward tab on your internet browser.
Zoom button, this button actually slides up and down which allows you to zoom in on web pages which makes them easier to read as well as zoom out.
The rest of the extra buttons are situated at the top of the keyboard and consist of the following:-
Web / Home button, This will take you to your home page on your internet explorer.
Search button, this will bring up the search screen for windows so that you can find files or folders.
Mail button, this will take you to outlook express.
1,2,3,4,5 buttons open the various screens that you currently have open on screen depending on which one was opened first - last.
Mute button (self explanatory)
Volume buttons + & - (again self explanatory)
Play & pause buttons, can be used while using a video player either on the internet or offline.
My favourites button, pressing this will bring up your favourites in your internet browser.
And finally the humble calculator button which brings up the windows calculator.
Underneath the keyboard at the back are two small unfolding clips that let you prop the keyboard up slightly although I have found it more comfortable to leave them down. Overall this keyboard is great and I can't fault it at all, price these days is also great! Highly recommended!
This keyboard seems to fix problems you never even knew existed. For example the height of the keyboard is slightly raised in the middle. This makes it feel much more natural when typing as you have different length fingers it makes sense for the keyboard to be shaped to account for this so the hand falls more naturally on the the keys. It may not seem like much of a problem but you appreciate it when you have it.
I use this keyboard at home but at work I have a normal flat keyboard, and so I really notice the difference between the two. At first it felt weird typing on this keyboard but its to be expected, not being used to the different shape of the design. However after a while The opposite became true and using my flat keyboard at work became the one that felt weird and actually was typing slower at work as the keys felt out of place to what I had got used to at home.
I did realise that I use different buttons for the keys on this keyboard than I used to, for example I used to always use my right hand for 'B' but on the keyboard it is on the left side. You just have to get used to it and once you do if you're like me you'll become a faster typer for it
The base at the front allows you the rest your wrists on them so it is not so as uncomfortable as having to rest them on a wooden desk. The material is quite soft, definitely softer than a desk, the only annoying thing about it is that if I have a lot of paper around me it does take up space, while it may not be too much, but it is space that when you are busy you would really appreciate having. So it's really a judgement call on whether you can sacrifice a bit of space for the extra comfort
Over this is a great keyboard that made writing this review that little bit easier
As a touch typist (I type by feeling the keyboard keys and not needing to look), it's important that I can type quickly and comfortably. For this, I need a good comfy keyboard and maybe a good wrist rest. I decided on the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, which cost me around £45 at the time (around £30 on Amazon today). It's a USB (wired) keyboard with a very unusual shape, designed to make typing feel comfortable and natural for the touch typist.
Good ergonomics is extremely important along with best practices to avoid permanent injuries from sitting at the computer over extended periods of time. Main problem when it comes to using a keyboard is the risk of getting RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury), which is caused by repeating actions such as typing and using a mouse. This condition is permanent and can be painful. The keyboard even has a big warning on the bottom (a tag on the cable refers you to the bottom of the keyboard first, in case you don't look underneath), which refers you to a "Healthy Computing Guide" included with the software and on the Microsoft website. This guide shows you how you should sit at your desk, how your screen should be positioned, how your arms should be positioned, taking breaks to avoid eye strain, et cetera, and even to eat healthily! Shows they care!
My first impression of the keyboard after setting it up is that it is a massive beast! It has two clip stands to raise the back of the keyboard if need be, much like most keyboards on the market but it also comes with a big riser, which clips underneath at the front to raise it 2cm off the desk. This makes it a very tall keyboard. Although it's optional, it may be recommended for the ergonomic benefits. It is in the shape of a 'wave', curving upwards where the massive gap between the TGB and YHN keys are, which is something I find very unusual and unique in a QWERTY keyboard. It also has a wrist/hand rest at the front made from some rubbery material, which is soft but not too squishy. With all these design features, I find typing with the keyboard extremely comfortable. It also feels very durable. I can also type pretty quickly on it thanks to the shape. The Number Lock, CAPS Lock, Scroll Lock, and F Lock LED indicators are at the bottom of the keyboard rather than at the top right, which I quite like.
The size may be a problem for some with limited desk space or for those whom need to place the keyboard in a keyboard drawer. I have a keyboard drawer built into my desk but while this keyboard is in, sliding the drawer in and out scrapes the keyboard against the bottom of my desk. This is only with the riser attached but I prefer to keep it on. This Microsoft keyboard is now on top of my desk, with my other keyboards (yes, I have loads!) stuffed underneath in the drawer. The width of the keyboard is only slightly wider than a standard one but the length from top to bottom is a third larger than standard keyboards due to the wrist rest.
The keys are very responsive and although I can hear each keystroke after striking each key, the resulting noise level is not overly loud. It's more of a soft tapping sound rather than a sharp and loud one that you might find with older keyboards.
Like many keyboards, this one has additional hotkeys to open common applications and tools and to control multimedia. I do like this sort of thing as it seems like you get more for your money, and because they can be convenient. It has the following:
- Web/Home (Internet browser to open home page)
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (to open favourite website or programs)
- Volume up and volume down
- Play / Pause
- My Favorites (brings up the Window to configure the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 buttons)
- Back / Forward (works well with Internet pages and in Windows folders and located at the bottom)
- Plus it has a Zoom sliding button to push up and down (located in a gap between the letter keys)
Most of the buttons work straight away without installing the Microsoft software but others do nothing until the software is installed. These are the numeric buttons, My Favorites and the Zoom sliding button. In addition, without the F (function) lock enabled, the F keys double as shortcuts to operate common word processing and email tasks such as Undo, Redo, New, Open, Close, Reply, Spell check, Save and Print to name a few. None of them work without first installing the software but the software is easy to install from the CD or after downloading the installer file
I bought my keyboard a while ago so I had to search for and download the software to use all the Hot Key buttons. I had to use the search box at the top of the Microsoft home page because I couldn't find it by just navigating. You could also type in www.microsoft.com/hardware (but I doubt many would know that address to start with) and then click Download Software down the left. Currently, I have both the Logitech SetPoint and the Microsoft IntelliType Pro software installed and they seem to be coexisting fine.
The buttons numbered 1 to 5 are buttons that can be programmed to open any program you have installed. This is easy to do just by pressing My Favorites or by opening the Microsoft Keyboard software from the Start Menu. All the hot key buttons and the functions operated by the F keys can be programmed to do something else quite easily. One can also assign Macros (automated tasks) but this looks a lot trickier to do if you want something more advanced than it entering a word automatically when one of the buttons are pressed. Not a problem, just that the more advanced users have a bit more flexibility in how they are able to use the Hot Keys should the need arise.
For controlling multimedia, I like how they provide volume controls and the play / pause button but if they bothered to include these, why not included Previous / Next so you can skip and go back tracks when listening to music? The Back and Forward doesn't do this. These multimedia controls only work in Windows Media Player and not VLC Player, which I also use (may work in other players like Real Player but I've not tried). All very minor niggles.
Lastly, something I've never really used are the keys at the top right of the keyboard, which are = ( ) and an another backspace (there's already the usual one next to the +/= key). I thought these were pretty unusual to include as well but it just means I can type brackets without holding SHIFT and have an extra = and backspace for when my hand is using the numeric keypad.
- Designed with ergonomics in mind to reduce the risk of RSI
- Comfortable and good for touch typists to type quickly with
- Has programmable Hot Keys, multimedia buttons plus a few more extras
- Adjustable (removable riser at the front plus foldable risers at the back (underneath))
- Good support (includes software updates from Microsoft)
- Keyboard is very big and may not fit certain desks
- No Previous / Next media Hot Keys to accompany Play / Pause
- May not be good for non-touch typists
The keyboard is great for touch typing but not so great if you don't. If you touch type or are learning, then I highly recommend it as you'll be typing comfortably with a lower risk of RSI (although you should still stop for breaks) and I think it'll help you learn faster thanks to the keys being split down the middle based on what hand you're meant to use to hit what keys. Unfortunately, if you don't touch type, this keyboard may make it more difficult for you to type as I find it more difficult to locate keys when using the 'index finger key poking' method of typing, due to the shape of the keyboard and the gap between the keys, especially if you're not familiar with the location of each letter. Lastly, there's a wireless version of this keyboard, which may be worth considering if you prefer wireless. The Microsoft Ergonomic 7000 Desktop, which comes with the wireless version of the Ergonomic keyboard, is sold with an Ergonomic mouse.
Thanks for reading!
The Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 is an excellent all-around ergonomic keyboard that has served me well. I have RSI which means that comfort and ergonomics are vital to me, but I would go as far to recommend this keyboard to anyone, not just sufferers of repetitive strain injury.
Fair enough, the first reaction you will probably get from most people when they see and try to use your keyboard is, 'WHAT THE...' (I know I did.) After all, it is unusually high raised up with a bizarre upwards curve shape, as well as the main key section split into two. This however, is what makes it so comfortable to use and is surprisingly easy to get used to.
Everything about this keyboard is comfortable. The strange angles and locations that the keys are in definitely let your hands rest in a more natural way - hence 'Microsoft Natural.' The wrist rest is one of my favourite parts, which is very soft but not too squishy. The amount of fatigue you would suffer from after a long typing session is minimal with this, compared to an average keyboard.
There are few negatives I could argue with this keyboard, however one would be the hotkeys at the top. There is a play/pause button and some application shortcuts which are useful, but it would have been nice to have some extra ones, like forward and back controls for music, and more to customise to your liking.
This keyboard has been brilliant for all uses, from instant messaging, to writing university assignments, to gaming. If you have a bog standard keyboard, I cannot recommend enough that you upgrade to this model. It's not too expensive and well worth it, especially when you consider that it may decrease your chances of developing a condition like RSI.
Having switched to ergonomic keyboards several years ago, I would never consider a regular flat keyboard again, but this is by far the best one I have used. It is soft-touch in the true sense of the term and now, when I have to use friends' keyboards, I realise how noisy they are and how much (comparatively speaking) effort you have to put into pressing each key! I have definitely found that my typing speed and accuracy have improved since purchasing this keyboard, and in direct proportion to the reduction in wrist strain.
It probably has a few more functions than I would consider strictly necessary, and in my opinion, I think it could be about an inch and a half narrower without all the extra buttons at the top. That said, I do quite like the additional Back and Forward buttons that are positioned between the points at which your hands naturally rest; these are quite useful when flicking through photographs, for example. One slightly irritating feature is the "F Lock" key, which changes the traditional functions of the F keys to other functions that already exist elsewhere. For instance, if I want to open or close a document, my instinct isn't to look at the keyboard to do it, but apparently it is sometimes necessary to assign these operations to F5 and F6. It is also annoying if you hit the "F Lock" key by mistake and then unwittingly press F7 to run Spell Check only to find that its function has been changed to "Reply" and that "Spell" has been moved to F10, but perhaps I am being too fussy.
On a more useful note, you are provided with five programmable buttons at the top of the keyboard, labelled simply from 1 to 5, to which you can assign any application or file of your choosing. However, there is then a further button that has the sole function of opening the menu that tells you the functions of the other five buttons! I think this just might be overkill, but I can't say that it detracts from the keyboard in any real way. In fact, its overall appearance is very sleek and stylish, and it certainly beats those beige monsters. (For optimum effect, position this keyboard next to the matching Microsoft mouse!)
My main criticism of this product is that some of the letters started to wear off fairly early on, namely the 'E', 'R', 'T' and 'O'. Provided you touch-type, this isn't too bothersome, (and if you don't, I wouldn't recommend an ergonomic keyboard). The best features have to be the speed and accuracy with which it enables you to type and the fact that it really is very comfortable if you are typing for long periods. I love the built-in wrist rest and cannot imagine typing without one. However, there is an additional plastic stand that fits onto the front of the keyboard that raises it up off the desk, as well as two feet at the back, which you can pull down to then level it out. I never use either of these features as I find that they simply make the keyboard too high to be comfortable and that you lose some degree of support for the wrists as a result. This is no great issue as you can just choose to use the keyboard without them.
Even if, eventually, every letter wears off, I would not want to be without this keyboard!
Being a computer programmer (ActionScript 3), I clock up a serious number of hours sat in front of a computer hammering away at small plastic keys (hell I'm even doing it now!), I used to suffer from acute wrist pain with normal "flat" keyboards after long coding sessions and I was worried that the first stages of RSI were kicking in. As a result, I invested the time to retrain myself to use the Microsoft Ergo 4000 and I have never looked back.
The first thing that people notice about this keyboard is the back-to-front design - the palm rest under the space bar is actually the highest point of the board with the keys sloping downwards - this forces you to have your wrists raised which all ergonomics experts recommend. Along side this you will notice from the picture that the QWERTY keys are split into two halves, both of which have their own "bowl" effect; again this helps with the ergonomics, but it also (once you are past the learning curve) helps you track the keys and touch type faster.
As I just mentioned there is a bit of "learning curve" to this keyboard as you have to re-train your brain slightly to remember where the gap is, this took me about 2 weeks, after which I could type significantly quicker.
The keyboard comes with a selection of multimedia keys - most of which are a bit pointless and I don't get much use out of them. It is however worth noting that the Media Keys (play / pause) do work with iTunes on both Mac and Windows, but you have to give the program focus (which slightly defeats the point!)
There are a few things I would change about this keyboard, the biggest being the action of the keys. Don't get me wrong, they are comfortable to use, and have enough travel (this is not a shallow mechanism like the Mac Keyboards) but I would prefer it if they had a little bit more "click" or "weight" to them (Ideally, they would be Spring / Buckle mechanism like the good ol' Model-M, but I don't think anyone makes an ergo keyboard like that!).
So, to sum up, if you are serious about typing (and can touch type already (or need to force yourself to learn!)) then you should definitely give the Microsoft Ergo 4000 a try.
If you spend alot of time sitting at the computer typing, working from home, writing essays for school/college then there is no better keyboard for you than the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000!
I bought this from amazon for £30 in September and it was worth every penny.
I was intrigued by the way it was an ergonomic keyboard and since I do alot of typing at the computer I thought it would be perfect.
Definition of ergonomic: 1. "Correct posture and positioning of the body while at work, rest and play."
2. "Designed for ease of use."
It is the most relaxing, comfortable keyboard I have ever used. It is soft to the touch and you feel incredible satisfaction when ever a key is pressed down ( perhaps it's just me" :-) as it sounds and feels so smooth and relaxing. aaaahhhh.... :-)
It is angled at an unusual shape and comes closer to you towards the centre of the keyboard whcih is supposed to make you type in the correct possition and stops you from having to reach over to the othrer side of the keyboard with the wrong hand if you don't touch type.
You hands will be angled and so this is supposed to create extra support and ease the pressure on your wrist as you type.
It's not just the ergonomic features that I like about this keyboard- it also contains many other extra keys such as buttons to open, my music, calculator, calendar, prit, etc and also has a toggle slider to zoom into a picture, web page etc.
These features work automatically if you just plug it in (usb) to any XP computer and it also works with my Vista Operating software beta 2. ( Which I have also wrote a review for ;-] !! ).
The keyboard comes with an extra piece to elevate it in case you lke the top of the keyboard lifed up- I don't but some do. The piece does not have to be uses; it depends on how you like to type.
I would only recommend this Keyboard to those who can touchtype or can type with at least more than two fingers because it doesn't quite have the same ergonomic benefits if you only type eith two fingers. :-) but you still may enjoy the extra features on the keyboard.
Thanks for reading and happy typing!