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Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000
- Comfortable keyboard, reduces strain during long typing sessions
- Mouse not great to hold, some minor key size issues
While the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000 isn't perfect, it is a good choice if you're looking for a wireless and ergonomic keyboard for regular desktop publishing tasks. It isn't suitable for other tasks such as gaming, but the key layout is comfortable and easy to adjust to.
Price$ 199.95 (AUD)
Ergonomic keyboards seem to be all the rage these days. For us it is probably too late, our claw like fingers already gnarled and twisted by years of gruelling late nights in the test centre. However, for many of you there is probably still hope and Microsoft believes that hope may come in the form of its latest ergonomic keyboard and mouse combo, the Natural Desktop 7000.
Sporting a curved keyboard split straight down the middle and a mouse that bears more than a passing resemblance to an egg, this package takes some getting used to, but if you find your fingers regularly feeling strained after a long day at the office then this may be the package for you.
One of the most difficult things to adjust to is having half the keys on one side and half on the other. Many self taught typists won't always use the correct finger for each key, and as a result you may find yourself automatically tapping in no-man's-land between the two sections and wondering why you keep getting the word 'rilliant'. We actually found this keyboard corrected our typing a little as we went along, which will appeal to some users.
As with most ergonomic models the keys are slightly slanted. This is to capitalise on the fact that different fingers are different lengths and fall naturally in different places, meaning a standard flat key layout isn't the most comfortable or efficient setup. While the strange, curved design takes some getting used to, it definitely puts less strain on your fingers and the impact can be felt at the end of a long day in front of the monitor. Some keys have been resized to fit the new layout and while we appreciate the larger Alt, Ctrl and space keys, some very commonly used ones such as Enter have been shrunk which we found a little troublesome. We should also point out that while the layout is great for desktop publishing, gamers will want to look elsewhere as this keyboard really isn't conducive to a standard WASD control scheme.
The keyboard comes with a soft, padded wrist rest which is comfortable. By default it is raised quite high off the desk, but the base can be removed if you'd prefer a lower angle. There is a reasonable smattering of function keys including mail, search and Web links as well as favourites, back/forward keys and some media controls (volume, mute and play/pause). We would have liked to see track skip options, but aside from that the shortcuts are fairly robust.
While we were impressed with the keyboard's design, the mouse could use a little work. It has a dome like shape that is built to be held in the centre of the hand, rather than by the fingertips or palm. Perhaps it is just a lifetime of gripping the mouse using our fingers, but we struggled to maintain perfect accuracy with this unit. We also found the acceleration of the cursor a little hard to handle when using this mouse, but that can be adjusted in settings.
This package is a little on the pricey side, although it is completely wireless. Setup was a simple case of plugging in the receiver dongle and hitting connect on each of the devices. No software required, although some is included if you want more customisation. Each component uses two AA batteries and they seem to last for about a week of heavy usage.
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