Customer Reviews: Fellowes Microban Split Design Wired Keyboard, Dark Gray (98915)
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on July 18, 2008
I was using an aging--ahem--EXTREMELY OLD--MS Natural keyboard before realizing it was time to look for a new keyboard. Oh what a difference. The keys on this Fellowes have such a great feel, and they're QUIET.

One of the other nice things is how compact the board is compared to other split style keyboards. A big annoyance of mine is when the keyboard is too wide and starts to push into the mouse area--making it difficult to maintain good ergonomics.

A little thing that takes some getting used to on this board is the layout of the up-down-right-left arrow keys. I'm slowly getting used to it, and I'm sure it wont be a problem after a week or two of heavy keyboard use.

Not sure how important/effective the Antimicrobial coating is (seems like a gimmick), but I'll report back in a couple of years ;)

All in all--this keyboard seems to be worth the price. Considering how much most of us use our keyboards every day, it's better to pay a bit more and get a solid keyboard that will help prevent rep. stress injuries.

A side note to those who already suffer from carpal, etc--Look into Overcoming Repetitive Motion Injuries the Rossiter Way. It's about these somewhat strange two-person stretches that reverse carpal. Try this before you even consider destructive carpal surgery. The stretches worked like a miracle and keep me out of trouble when used once a week as maintenance.
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on December 8, 2006
This keyboard is hyped as being "preferred touch." It is. It is sooooo much more comfortable to type on than the Microsoft split keyboard commonly found in office supply stores. It has a lower profile and smaller footprint, and the black shell goes nicely with my Dell system. It's a winner in my book.
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on January 3, 2013
I am a programmer for a living and an avid PC gamer in my free time, so I can spend up to 12 hours a day or more at the keyboard. A comfortable keyboard is a must. I bought this keyboard as a replacement for my broken MS Natural Elite which is no longer produced, which was the best keyboard I have ever used, and I had been using for over 10 years. This keyboard looked similar enough that I thought it would perform the same or very similar. I was mistaken in several regards.

At first glance, key layout seems identical except for the split space bar and the lack of some space between the up arrow and the delete/insert keys. However, a closer inspection will reveal some key differences, which I will describe in excruciating detail below. The hot keys for email/web/search/etc. on the top of the keyboard are nice, but are under the edge of my desk so I will probably never use them.

My 3 main problems with this keyboard:

1) The space bar is too long on the left side. On the MS Natural Elite, the space bar ends under the V key, while on this keyboard it extends slightly past the C key. As a result, the Alt and Windows keys are about 1/3 thinner than the MS Natural. This causes a problem when trying to hit the ALT and Windows keys with my left thumb. It is awkward and much more difficult to press than on the MS Natural. I use the windows key for a lot of shortcuts and the alt key for games and it was noticeably uncomfortable as soon as I began using this keyboard.

2) Whenever I press the V,B,N,M keys with my thumb, I am often hitting the space bar at the same time. I could not figure out why I was having this problem until I examined my MS Natural keyboard. On the MS Natural, the bottom row of letter keys (ZXCVB...) are all angled UP and away from the very bottom row of keys. This prevents the problem I describe. I really have to arch my fingers to avoid this problem. This is not a problem I could have foreseen, nor saw described by anyone else in their review. If you don't use your thumbs to press those keys, this may not effect you, but after typing this way for 30+ years, it is a big problem for me.

3) I notice when I type fast, sometimes I am pressing O instead of I, or J instead of H, something which never happened with the natural elite. Again I examined the keyboard for differences, and noticed that ALL the keys on the natural elite are angled slightly away toward the side they are on. On this keyboard, they are all relatively flat, meaning I have to stretch my fingers further to press certain keys, especially those towards the middle of the keyboard, which results in mistyping. Stretching is not something I should have to do on a Natural keyboard. This might not be a problem if I kept proper typing form, but I keep my right index on the K instead of the J, as this makes pressing the enter key easier and reduces the distance to backspace (2 most common keys pressed!), and I keep my left index on the D instead of the F as this makes pressing the left shift/CTRL/Windows/Alt keys easier.

Compared to the MS Natural elite, I would describe typing on this keyboard to be "mushy" or like typing on a pillow. This occasionally causes me to mistype, as sometimes I do not press hard enough. Again, this may be something I can get used to, but I wish key pressure wasn't something that I had to spend time thinking about as I type.

I regret not getting the MS Natural Ergonomic 4000, which I did not buy due to its reviews mentioning a problem with the key labels coming off, as well as all the extraneous keys I will not use. I am probably going to return the Fellowes and get it instead regardless of those issues.

Update: After further reading the MS Natural Ergonomic's reviews about its problematic spacebar and key labels rubbing off, I decided to keep the Fellowes. I've been using it now for a few weeks. I seem to have gotten used to the non-angled keys, and I don't have much of a problem mistyping anymore. I also seem to have gotten used to the amount of pressure on the keys and don't notice it. However I do still find the smaller alt and window keys to be problematic when gaming and I still really wish the spacebar was not so long on the left side. Unfortunately there are no alternatives other than the MS Natural Ergonomic so for now I am stuck until something better comes along!

Update 2: Have been using this keyboard for 2 years now, and I am completely used to all the quirks and it still works flawlessly. However, I do have a MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 at work and prefer it to this... the key presses just feel nicer. However if this keyboard is able to last another 2 years then it may be the better buy, as the MS keyboards do seems to die on me after 2 or 3 years.
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on April 3, 2009
My profession is medical transcription, so a comfortable functional keyboard is vital. I have tried several traditional and ergonomic keyboards in the past, but the Fellowes is by far my favorite. Previous purchases included the wave style keyboard which I felt was not truly ergonomic and a split keyboard which was truly ergonomic, but began to malfunction with short term use. I did purchase another split one because I liked the design, but it too malfunctioned even sooner than the prior keyboard. So I did some further research and gave the Fellowes a try. I had read some reviews complaining of the stiff keys. I find the keys to be perfect for my hard touch. The split design and layout work well for me. My only complaint was the two large Windows hot keys which I had a tendency to inadvertently hit. After trying unsuccessfully to disable them I popped them off and have no complaints with this keyboard. I am hoping it stands the test of time, but at this point based on my previous experience, I have confidence it will. It is designed well ergonomically, has an excellent key touch and response, is smaller than other ergonomic keyboards and slightly less costly. It is not fancy--no padded hand rest etc., but for my needs, it has thus far proven to be an excellent work horse that I am extremely pleased with!
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on January 11, 2006
I started looking into a new keyboard because I was spending so much time on the computer that my wrists began to ache, have a soreness, etc. I ruled out carpal tunnel, but someone recommended a natural keyboard to help alleviate the pain as I type. I received this as a gift and I could not be happier with it. The split design put my hands in a much more comfortable position and it is raised where the wrists rest to provide more support. This particular keyboard has good keys, they aren't too sticky or too sensitive and once you get used to the slight differences in the arrow keys placement etc it is remarkably easy to use. I believe that everyone should have to use such a keyboard to prevent such injuries in the future. I also like the color since it matches with my computer. I highly recommend this keyboard.
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on April 5, 2013
I work on a mac and have been having wrist pain. This keyboard is not advertised to be compatible with a mac, but I wanted to try it out anyway because of the good reviews. I love the keyboard, it's very comfortable, much more than the standard mac keyboard I've been using for years. The numeric and keyboard buttons work fine. The special buttons at the top of this keyboard, (www, search, email, vol) do not work. The sleep does work. The buttons that I really wanted most were the volume up and down buttons. So I went in search of a way to map these to the F keys, which were all recognized. I bought this small app called iKey and installed it and was easily able to convert three of the F keys to volume up, down and mute. I made little icons out of paper and pasted them to the keys, and I'm delighted. So is it mac-compatible, not completely, but I now have all of the mac functions I used to have, and my wrist is happy, so I'm totally good. I wanted to post this review so other folks who have a mac wouldn't assume this keyboard wouldn't work for their needs.
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VINE VOICEon July 4, 2012
In October 2010, I got rid of yet another Microsoft ergonomic keyboard--the second one in a row where the letters wore off in short order--and bought this one instead. And I've been very happy with it. The letters on this one held up for much much longer than on the Microsofts, BUT...

After 18 months of nothing whatever to complain about, the Fellowes's left-hand QWERTY and ASDFG rows of letters began a fast fade and I'm now seeing signs that N, M, O, P and L are beginning to do the same. (I should also point out here that I'm basically a touch typist who uses a PC with a keyboard that sits on a pullout shelf just below the monitor.) Recently, I've been needing more and more often to redirect my reading light from desktop duties to the keyboard. I've seen comments on Microsoft keyboard reviews that recommend coating the keys with clear nail polish to stop the fading, but I didn't try that remedy soon enough, mostly, I suppose because I didn't realize that, over time, Fellowes key IDs also faded.

Fortunately, I was able to find here on Amazon quite an array of stick-on keyboard letter sets. So, it would seem, letter fade is a common problem. I opted for an inexpensive set of all-caps glow-in-the dark stickers Glowing fluorescent Large Lettering English US keyboard sticker which fit the Fellowes perfectly, go on quick and easy and are so readable there's no need to turn on any lights in the room at all. The light from the screen is all that's needed to activate the fluorescence.

I notice that most of the reviews for these see-in-the-dark keyboard helpers indicate that most buyers of this particular set do so because they have vision problems; I don't...I just sometimes get my hands out of proper position for touch typing and a quick glance down now sets me straight straightaway. Also, I'm lousy at finding, by touch, the non-alphabet keys I seldom use, I also like not having to turn lights on if I want to get up in the middle of the night and write something down before I forget it. (My handwriting in the dark is rarely legible come morning.)

In sum, I love this keyboard. I recommend it. I also recommend that if you buy it and still love it after a year, you may want to take some action to conquer encroaching letter-fade before it sneaks up on you and starts driving you bonkers.
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on August 20, 2014
I purchased this keyboard for my home office, and after a week of use am already feeling less discomfort in my wrists. I was skeptical of ergonomic keyboards, but was curious to see the impact this would have on my typing comfort. After one week of use, I can honestly say that I wish I bought this sooner.

Wrist comfort was the main reason I bought this, and it has already proven to help in that respect. I feel less achy after work, making this well worth the price.

Typing ease of use is also good. A slight learning curve but it honestly only took me 2-3 days of use to get comfortable typing on this layout. No typos or anything at this point. The only thing I dislike is the arrow keys. Placement is non-traditional and size seems small. Still getting used to them, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before this is a non-issue.

The size of this keyboard is very similar to a standard keyboard, and the shortcut buttons on the top are nice as well. I use the "sleep" button daily, but the others remain unused. Probably unnecessary, but they don't get in my way.

I tried the Microsoft ergonomic keyboard (4000) in-store, but the spacebar was incredibly loud. I looked online and saw other people saying the same thing, leading me to look for an alternative. The spacebar on the Fellowes keyboard is normal volume and probably on-par with my old keyboard that came standard with a new HP desktop computer.

Overall, I would absolutely recommend this keyboard for office/home use.
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on June 11, 2009
The funky positioning of the home, end, delete keys make it very easy to delete when you meant end, and the left shift key could be shorter to allow for a longer left ALT key, but other than that it feels fine. I'd buy another one if I needed it. Splitting the space bar is a definite improvement over the Microsoft product, as the single space-bar my keyboard at work tends to stick just when I want to use it in combination with some other control key.
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on January 4, 2009
After using this great keyboard for 6 months, and becoming totally comfortable using my left index finger for the 'b' key, I had to give it up. My new computer is a Mac and it's not compatible. But all is not lost (I love my Mac keyboard, but that's beside the point) as I've given the split keyboard to my daughter, who is also a medical transcriptionist. Now she is totally in love with it. The ergonomics not only help relieve carpal tunnel, it improves speed and accuracy of typing. I highly recommend it for anybody, whether you are a casual user of the keyboard or type in a professional capacity.
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