Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

Back in April I reviewed/reported on the Logitech Cordless Comfort Duo Black keyboard and mouse combination.

On the whole, I was happy with it, but recently some of the little niggles that I had with the keyboard had started to get on nerves. Chief among these were the damn Logitech key (which takes you to the Logitech website and which, placed on the right hand side with the keypad is too easy to press; there is no way to disable it – I removed the key top, but it was an untidy solution), the slow response on the media keys, the annoying inability to conveniently swap the Apple/Option keys around (you had to choose a separate keyboard layout, but this would often be forgotten by the OS; not directly Logitech’s fault, but the MS solution is much more effective); the provision of only four customizable application keys.

Microsoft NEK 4000

The most annoying though is the Logitech cordless mouse. Unlike Microsoft units it doesn’t go sleep when not in use. It’s on full power, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unless you take the batteries out. It chews through a new set, on this desk, about every 4 weeks. I imagine it would be significantly less if I used rechargeable, but that brings other problems I’m not going into here.

Then, as you all probably know, I got a an Apple Mighty Mouse but had some problems that through a combination of the comments and some changes I am now happily using every day. I still have occasional problems with the left/right button technique, no matter what I try, and I still think that Apple need to seriously rethink their approach on how that works. But I digress.

That eliminated the cordless mouse from an otherwise cordless solution…

Then Microsoft announced their Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (NEK from here on in). I’ve been using Microsoft ergo keyboards since Apple stopped doing their adjustable keyboard and migrated all their systems to USB (the adjustable was ADB). My biggest problem with them has usually been the rear feet, which are really unable to cope with the 18 hour a day/7 day a week schedule I keep here in the office. Once the feet go, the tilt goes and that makes it uncomfortable to use.

Today, a new NEK arrived at the door to take the place of the Logitech unit. I’m now back to wires, and though I’ve only been using the keyboard for a couple of hours, I already prefer the feel of the keys to the Logitech unit which always seemed to harsh.

I’ll be doing a more rounded review in the next week or so, but initial experiences are good. The Back/Forward keys beneath the space bar are great and very natural (left thumb back, right thumb forward) and the Internet/Email hot keys are convenientlyl in the top left with five big customizable keys in the middle. I’m not sure about the My Favourites key (it doesn’t make sense in my work patterns) but I can define that to do whatever I like,.

Finally, the audio control keys (albeit without a ‘next/previous’ track set) are much more responsive than the Logitech unit where sometimes the delay would be 30 or even 60 seconds; useless when I had to answer the phone and mute the output.

Look out for the full review later, but if you are in the market for an ergonomic keyboard I would certainly check this one out.