Today we’ll be looking at something from Microsoft’s range of hardware. Aside from the software they create, Microsoft are well known for producing high quality keyboards and mice. The keyboard and mouse combination we’ll be looking at today is most likely different to what you normally use at home or at work. Today, we’ll be looking at Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000, with both keyboard and mouse incorporating 2.4GHz wireless technology.
- Mouse and Keyboard
- 2.4 GHz Wireless Technology
- Advanced Ergonomic Design
- Revolutionary Ergonomic Design
- High Definition Laser Technology
- 4-Way Scrolling
- Instant Viewer
- 6 months battery life
- Battery Life Indicator
- Customisable Buttons
- Five Customisable Buttons
- Comfort Curve Design
- Improved Number Pad
- Internet Hot Keys
- Email Hot Keys
- ‘My Favourites’ Hot Keys
- Integrated Palm Rest
- Cutting-Edge Design
In the box, you receive the keyboard and mouse, a USB transceiver, a keyboard ‘prop’ for elevating the keyboard, batteries, a product guide, software including IntelliType Pro 6.1/6.2 for Mac and IntelliPoint 6.1/6.2 for Mac and some instructions.
The first thing you notice about the keyboard is its split keyboard layout. This is what Microsoft call a “gull wing” layout. The centre area of the typing area is its highest point, with a zoom button at the centre, just above the Spacebar. The keys begin to slope down on both sides from the centre and level out around the Enter key on the right, and Caps Lock on the left.
After getting used to the layout and feel to the keyboard, typing felt more at ease. The keyboard’s split design and sloped typing area kept our wrists straight unlike on a traditional keyboard. Also, due to the slope, our hands turned upwards and away from a flat horizontal position which improves ergonomics.
Keys in the centre area where it divides are a bit bigger than the other keys. The same goes for the bottom row of keys (Ctrl, Alt, etc.). The Enter key is smaller than normal but caused no problems.
Some keys, like shortcut keys and the F-keys, have extra labels on the front, showing their secondary function. You can see these labelsmore clearly if you have the keyboard sloping down away from you. Above the F-keys you find a row of extra buttons, including multimedia controls. These can be programmed using the provided software. You’ll find a Play/Pause button and a volume control, but no ‘next track’ button which you will have to add as a hot key. There’s also a calculator button.
As you’ve probably guessed, this keyboard isn’t really suited for gaming. For typing however, you can’t go wrong – that is unless you simply cannot get used to the gull-wing design. The spacebar is slightly noisy, it seems like they didn’t bother to dampen the sound. The wrist rest was a definite help comfort-wise.
We had little difficulty typing on this keyboard; even for the first time. We did sometimes use the wrong hands for the B and Y keys for example, but these are quickly rectified after some use.
The keyboard comes with a base already attached to the front of the unit, giving 7° reverse slope to elevate your wrists and prevent them from bending upwards
The support allows you to configure the way the keyboard rests on your desk, and in turn the way your hands rest on the keyboard in four different ways.
Not only is the keyboard quite different to your average, but so is the mouse. One immediate difference that can be seen is in the shape of the mouse. It sort of looks like a ball. The mouse is slightly tilted which allows for a more comfortable and natural resting in your hand. It does look very comfortable from looks alone and we can confirm this after many hours of use.
The mouse feels very natural in your hands. The thumb buttons are not exactly at your thumb level and you may need to adjust a little to press them. The other buttons and the scroll wheel itself feel just right and cannot really be improved.
The mouse is very accurate and responsive. The mouse does not have any LED indicators besides the battery life indicator, which is a nice improvement over other models that die without warning.
We weren’t sure how the tilted position would feel for our wrists in the long term but needless to say we had to try it anyway. Going back to a flat horizontal mouse felt odd and in fact felt like my wrist was being twisted. The mouse’s tilt is definitely a superior position to the normal horizontal and the rubberised part between your thumb and index finger helps your hand stay put. It might take some time getting used to it, but when you do, it will feel right and definitely more comfortable.
Microsoft claim this mouse can go six months on one charge, unfortunately we can’t confirm that for ourselves for a while but either way, that sounds very impressive.
Ergonomic mice and keyboards have been around for a while now but unfortunately they haven’t really latched on in mainstream markets. Ergo hardware needs a big company like Microsoft to lead the push in breaking these devices into the mainstream market and it can only be a good thing. So how much does it cost? Expect to pay around $125 (£62.50) for this wireless desktop solution but keep in mind it will definitely be worth it if it has health benefits.
The wireless keyboard and mouse are both solid products with their ergonomic benefits. The keyboard sports a comfortable curvy, ‘gull-wing’ keyboard design, optimal for keeping the wrists straight and aligned with the arms. The ball-shaped laser mouse turns the hand in to a more comfortable position and has a rubbery thumb groove for a firm grip.
- Comfortable and ergonomic
- Customisable software
- Good wireless technology
- ‘Gull-wing’ design not suitable for everyone
- Price may put people off