Product Review: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop

After one of those misfortunate office accidents, I had to say good bye to a long time loyal ally, partner and accomplice of mine. We shared many hours together working on all manner of software projects. We’ve shared the highs and lows. Forever relying on each other to crank out code and trying to tame technology beasts.

We’ve seen various computers come and go but there was always 1 consistent and loyal servant, Wireless Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard which I have owned and used for what must be the better part of at least 8 years or so!

Our partnership finally came to end end when I accidentally managed to spill an entire glass of water all over it! Despite quickly trying to recover from it, and taking the time to completely drying it out and even opening up a little to repair what I can things have never been the same.

Some keys completely stopped working while others type completely random characters, which are not associated with the particular keys!

I decided it was time to buy another keyboard. My first thought was to buy exactly the same set again. After all I do still have the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (Wired) version which I use on my improvised standing desk, which is nothing more than a desk set to it maximum height and using a Lavolta Ergonomic Laptop Table Holder

Big Fan of Ergonomic Keyboards

I am a big fan of Ergonomic keyboards and have been using them in their various guises for at least 20 years! Somewhere in the loft I still have the monstrous white edition one I purchased circa 1997 and which I also used till I bought the wired Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

I just find typing on them a whole lot easier and they are extremely comfortable to use. Personally I find straight keyboards just feel awkward and strangely my typing just sucks!

I also do have some kind of brand loyalty to the Microsoft range of ergonmic keyboards and retrospect every ergonomic keyboard I have owned has been Microsoft. So I thought I’d see what they had available.

I was initially tempted by the Microsoft 3RA-00022 Surface Ergonomic Keyboard but to be honest I for one was disappointed that it was only available in one colour and I don’t particularly like the colour!

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard caught my attention but initially for all the wrong reasons! For one I just couldn’t understand why hole in the middle of the keyboard. Especially because one the utility provided by my old keyboard was the zoom button which I used quite a lot when browsing the web as it was handy mechanism to scroll down pages!

It just seemed such a strange design feature and for the most part made no sense. I just thought it was a gimmick and that it would probably result in becoming a frustration due to the lack of functionality.

I also had reservations regarding the separate 10 key calculator. Which seemed a little weird, if I’m honest. I don’t necessarily do a lot of financial based work, but I do find I prefer to use the numbers on the 10 key calculator a lot more than the qwerty based number layout.

In all likelihood that it is bound to get lost in the office at some point. I’m not necessarily the most tidiest guy during the average work day.

Sadly, the two options seemed to be the only two options available in the ergonomic keyboard range. The others seemed to be nothing more than imitations of the big white monstrosity that I have available in different colours.

I wanted something contemporary but it still needed to be highly functional.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard 

I almost reluctantly decided to go against my intuition and decided to buy the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard  . I thought I might as well give a shot, after all I could just simply send it back if I didn’t like it. Abusing the generous Amazon returns policy.

I will be the first to admit that over all it has taking me quite a while to get used to the new keyboard due in part because it is so radically different to my old one. For at least the first week I had this weird feeling that it was as if I just had one of my limbs removed over night. Everything just felt awkward and disorientating.

It is taking quite a lot of mental rewiring to get used to the new layout. It’s funny how much I actually configured my working practices to suit my keyboard or conversely configured my keyboard to suit my working practices!

Even after 3 weeks of using the new keyboard things still aren’t there yet, but overall I really love using the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard and I am starting to appreciate more as they days move on.

Pros of the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

I my opinion the typing experience of the keyboard is simply awesome! It is a real pleasure to write long blog posts and documents. I am slightly convinced that my typing speed has also significantly improved.

It is also very quiet! I never actually realised just how loud my old keyboard was, a fact I learn to appreciate every time I use my standing desk .

This is also a comparison test that I am carrying out as I write this blog post. These sentences I am typing right now are on the old keyboard and the experiencing is actually quite a loud one. The key sound almost quite clunky, I never realised what a loud typist I am!

Especially when I hit the space bar and the enter key. There is a lot of oomph! there!

I have now switched over to the new keyboard and it is actually quite a pleasant sounding whispering clickety-clack! The keys really do feel pleasant.

Strange that running that little experiment, I really did notice how my typing speed has really increased! It feels like my fingers really do have a lot less space to cover and they don’t need to press down as much.

I can only assume that if you are proper touch typist that your speed will absolutely increase.

The keyboard is really comfortable through out the day and as it goes these past few weeks there have been a few long days of coding I have engaged and have been pretty much glued to the new keyboard.

Haven’t used the mouse

I haven’t used the accompanying mouse that is shipped with the keyboard although I still have it on the desk. The primary reason for that is is have been using the Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball Mouse  for years and gave up with those mice you need to chase round the desk.

I have also recently upgraded my travel bag mouse to the Logitech MX Ergo Wireless Trackball Mouse which has a Rechargeable battery- up to 70 days of power on a single charge and an ergonomic sculpted design – unique adjustable hinge allows you to customize the trackball angle from 0 to 20 degrees for a more natural, comfortable hand position, and reduced muscle strain.

Logitech MX Ergo Wireless Trackball Mouse

Logitech

A unique adjustable hinge allows you to choose the best angle between 0°and 20° for a more natural hand position and greater comfort.

Cons of the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

During the first day I suspected the wireless dongle was playing up a little and was experiencing frequent periods of dis-connectivity. The keyboard would just stop working. This was one point of that was raised in the reviews of the product I had initially read, but it was a little outdated and I assumed that because Microsoft and other Driver developers would have patched this error in the course of time.

In my case, the problem actually stemmed from the fact that I had plugged my dongle directly into the PC, which is located under my desk – I’m still using my Viglen Desktop which is still surprisingly fast – and I had very similar issues with my old Keyboard and the primary reason why I purchased the UGREEN USB 3.0 Hub 4-Port with 1M Long Cable, so I could get the USB hub directly on desk, where my mouse USB port is also plugged in!

It happens, as you get older your memory just isn’t the same!!

This also seemed to occur when I occasionally rebooted my computer, the keyboard wouldn’t connect unless I unplugged and re-plugged the dongle. Then it would connect.

If i left my wokstation for any length of time i.e. Lunch or Dinner time and came back it would struggle to re-connect.

These problems however seemed to have stopped happening and I have not really experienced any issues again. I am still a but wary though so keeping on eye on it for the time being.

As mentioned previously the keyboard layout does take a little getting used too, but really that is to be expected in reality. Things are going to be different and you just have to live with it and move on.

Difference and packaging

There is one additional point I wanted to highlight which may be of interest to those who like myself may travel with their Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard, that you may want to consider purchasing the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for Business (5KV-00001 ) because it does come with a handy little feature I didn’t realise the Consumer package doesn’t come with, which is kind of odd.

I have purchased 3 of these keyboard packs i.e. 1 for my desk, 1 for my standing desk and 1 for my travel bag. These were all separate purchases, but only 1 of them was the business package. The business package is the only one which comes with a handy USB docking station to store the USB controller for travel or storage. This is located in the Battery compartment, which is great for ensuring that your USB connector is always with your keyboard.

This helps to not only protect your USB hub from damage while travelling, because leaving plugged into the side of laptop in bag can be hazardous, but also from losing it!

Conclusion

I am considering purchasing another Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for my standing desk. Primarily because it fits the Lavolta Ergonomic Laptop Table Holder a lot better and if I use the convenient attachable stand supplied with keyboard it makes for a really improved ergonomic experience.

Overall, despite my initial reservations in purchasing the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard  I am quite satisfied with my purchase and would recommend it to other developers.

Optional Extra

Due to the fact, that as a Freelance/Contract Developer I am required to undertake some travel to visit clients or occasionally conduct work on site. I do often take my keyboard with me, so I can set up a comfortable workstation for myself as discussed in Product Review: NEXSTAND K2 Laptop Stand. I am conscious of the potential damage to the keyboard or to other equipment if I just throw my keyboard into my Laptop bag, so I purchased Aproca Hard Carry Travel Case fit Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard.

Which works great and fits snugly in my bag and provides the protection and additional safe storage necessary.