Customer Review

931 of 954 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Overall Keyboard to Date, October 18, 2005
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This review is from: Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (Personal Computers)
As a software developer, I am literally attached to my keyboard. On a typical day, I'll spend anywhere between 5-8 hours typing, so it's of critical importance that the keyboard I use is comfortable. As most programmers and typists can attest, the Microsoft Ergo series of keyboards is the best keyboard for prolonged use.

Having used the Ergo keyboards in some form or another for the past 4 years (most recently, the Wireless Elite set), I must say that this keyboard is a step above.

To begin with, the construction is very solid. There is far less flex in the plastic and the keyboard as a whole compared to my Wireless Elite. The wrist pad is made of a nicely textured faux leather material with a tiny bit of padding. It feels rather durable (not to mention comfortable). It's a good addition as one of my main gripes with the MS ergo keyboards was that it was hard to fit one of those gel wrist rests around the curved base of the keyboard.

Compared to previous MS keyboards that I've owned, the keys on this keyboard are very well damped in terms of the sound the produce. It's very muted, even with my hard strokes. One thing that will take some adjusting to is the increased curvature (along two different planes) between where your pinky and index fingers rest (A,F and J,;). Whereas the older keyboards have a relatively flat incline, this keyboard has a slight curve (concave). In addition, there is also a very subtle curve across the keyboard as well (a horizontal curvature), which seems a more natural fit for the shape of hands. Also of note is the fact that some of the keys have changed shape. Whereas previously, MS had kept the striking surface consistent across the different keys (even at the edge), this keyboard has several keys along the ridge that have different striking surfaces.

Interestingly, this keyboard also features the return of the front riser (available on the older versions of the MS ergo keyboards). Actually, in recent months, I've been doing exactly this, but with my own ad hoc methods :) This is a much better solution. The riser is easily removable for those that prefer the standard configurations.

Note that this keyboard is *USB only*, which means that it may be incompatible with some older motherboards. Not a problem for me as I'm using it with a newer laptop. The keyboard does come with software for the programmable keys and extra functions, but it's plug and play right out of the box with WinXP.

I also appreciate the new forward and back buttons for use with web browsing (work with no drivers). The zoom slider in the middle of the keyboard, however, seems inapproriately used. It would have been much more useful as a scroll slider instead.

Sizewise, it takes up slightly more surface space than my wireless elite, but is much, much thinner.

My only complaints are that the space key is a little bit stiff out of the box (maybe it'll loosen up a bit after usage), the distance from Ctrl to the number keys seems to have increased a bit (on the scale of millimeters, this is important for those of us hitting Ctrl+F5 quite often ;-), the Delete key is now the same size as the other keys in the cluster (which some people may prefer, but I need to adjust to due to the extra large delete key on the Wireless Elite set), the Enter key is slightly smaller (by 3-5mm), and the key response is not as "soft" as say the ones I recently sampled on the MS bluetooth keyboard, but still very comfortable.

Overall, a very high quality keyboard. If you can wait, there is sure to be a wireless version coming soon. But anyone that spends a significant amount of type working with computers will be able to appreciate the new layout after 1-2 days of adjustment to the new curvature. I'm very happy with my purchase and would highly recommend this keyboard to my fellow programmers :)

UPDATE: In the past few days, I've had an inquiry into whether I'm still satisfied with the keyboard. The answer is a big, bold *YES*. As I was telling a colleague, this keyboard simply rocks. I can type hours on end without pain. My "seat of the pants" impression is that I also type _faster_ with this keyboard. As I pointed out above, I think that most people will have to go through a period of adjustment to really feel comfortable and fall in love with this keyboard, even if you're coming from a previous Microsoft Ergo series keyboard.
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Comments

Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 43 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 26, 2007 7:12:24 PM PDT
MLL says:
Hi, i just got this keyboard a couple of days ago, and i also have the problem of the spacebar being stiffer than the other keys. Since you posted this almost 2 years ago, did the stiffiness go away?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 27, 2007 7:56:49 AM PDT
Charles Chen says:
Yes, it is still a bit stiff compared to my Wireless Elite set, however, it is much better than it was initially out of the box.

It might help to just unplug is and give the space key some extra presses over a couple of days and see if it helps loosen it up.

Posted on Jun 3, 2007 5:51:30 PM PDT
R. Johnson says:
Hey there--GREAT review. Thank you so much for writing it. It was this kind of detailed programmer's aspect I was looking for as a programmer. I bought it and you are right on the money!!! :) Thank you so much for this review.

Posted on Oct 21, 2007 12:41:51 PM PDT
This is an absolutely wonderful review and I'm grateful for it. I used to have a natural keyboard but it died. I've been trying to replace it ever since and this is the first one I've seen that seems as if it will do the job. But I am a computer technoidiot and so I have a question that will probably make you laugh but here it is: the description of the keyboard says it is compatible with Vista. Does that mean it is not compatible with XP? That's what I use and I have absolutely no need or desire or willingness to change to Vista. But I would like to be able to use this keyboard. I am awaiting your answer and if it is yes, I can use it with XP, I'll order it right away. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2007 4:57:57 PM PDT
Melody,
I, too, had the same question but I found the answer when reading Mr. Chen's review. And I quote:
"The keyboard does come with software for the programmable keys and extra functions, but it's plug and play right out of the box with WinXP."
So there you have it. Good luck.
Betsy Perry

Posted on Jan 19, 2008 8:42:04 PM PST
SCF says:
The biggest problem with this and all Microsoft and Logitech keyboards is that they have taken to jamming them with a bunch of pointless and stupid keys and buttons in the last decade. A standard 101-104 key keyboard has now become a standard keyboard with a couple dozen stupid buttons. Like a forward button. A back botton. A volume button. A bunch of "favorite websites" buttons. Is it so hard to press ALT+<-- or ALT+--> to go back or forward? Is it really that hard to click a bookmark? These keyboards seem fine, until you add all this garbage that makes it seem like a keyboard meant for my grandmother or a toddler.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to find ergonomic 'wave' keyboards without all of this bloated garbage now and impossible to find one that is wireless. I miss the fantastic IBM keyboards of the 80s and 90s. Bring back some of those wonderful chunks of design genius, figure out a way to make them more ergonomically shaped... and sell them like crazy.

Posted on Mar 15, 2008 8:20:13 PM PDT
Wayne says:
i've been having a hard time find the wired version in store to check out. i'm curious as to whether or not this keyboard has the same keyboard feel as the *wireless* 4000 version. The wireless version seems to have a very noisy click-clacky feel to the key presses. I prefer the quieter keyboards. Have you tried the wireless version by any chance and did you notice any difference with the wired version you own?

The spacebar was another issue.. very noisy.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 18, 2008 3:12:47 PM PDT
warant says:
I tried the wireless. They are the same shell and feel etc.

Posted on Aug 18, 2009 11:55:41 AM PDT
Michael says:
Thanks for a good review.

The only missing points:
1. Very difficult cleaning the keyboard as it does gather dust and grime.
- Stay away from food when using keyboard as food bits can get lodged in-between the keys

2. There's no on-screen message that tells you if you use a certain function (i.e. cap locks are on)

3. Very pricey ~$60-70! If you can afford it, buy it. Otherwise, wait for a sale which does happen every so often in certain stores like Staples and Bestbuy.

Sure the keys produce noise like most keyboards but nothing to be concerned with just like the space bar noise ... clickety-clack!

This is actually much better than the older, outdated MS Natural keyboard, though it does take time to get used to the board's layout. Once you do, you won't ever want to use a regular keyboard again!

Posted on Feb 20, 2010 2:12:00 PM PST
I'm a developer and I find this keyboard awful. I never look at my keyboard when I type and I have a very light touch. There isn't enough feedback from the keystroke or from the sound of the key to let me know that the key has been depressed. It forces me to type slower and with a more heavy touch (maybe more like you type). As a result, I have to slow down and make more errors because I type the wrong letter or the key won't type at all.
Also I hate the function keys being numbered on the side of key rather than the top. I don't care about email shortcuts. I care about F5 (for debugging), F10 for stepping through source code, etc. This keyboard doesn't rock. For me, it bombs.
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