Top positive review
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Best Overall Keyboard to Date
on October 18, 2005
As a software developer, I am literally attached to my keyboard. On a typical day, I'll spend anywhere between 5-8 hours typing, so it's of critical importance that the keyboard I use is comfortable. As most programmers and typists can attest, the Microsoft Ergo series of keyboards is the best keyboard for prolonged use.
Having used the Ergo keyboards in some form or another for the past 4 years (most recently, the Wireless Elite set), I must say that this keyboard is a step above.
To begin with, the construction is very solid. There is far less flex in the plastic and the keyboard as a whole compared to my Wireless Elite. The wrist pad is made of a nicely textured faux leather material with a tiny bit of padding. It feels rather durable (not to mention comfortable). It's a good addition as one of my main gripes with the MS ergo keyboards was that it was hard to fit one of those gel wrist rests around the curved base of the keyboard.
Compared to previous MS keyboards that I've owned, the keys on this keyboard are very well damped in terms of the sound the produce. It's very muted, even with my hard strokes. One thing that will take some adjusting to is the increased curvature (along two different planes) between where your pinky and index fingers rest (A,F and J,;). Whereas the older keyboards have a relatively flat incline, this keyboard has a slight curve (concave). In addition, there is also a very subtle curve across the keyboard as well (a horizontal curvature), which seems a more natural fit for the shape of hands. Also of note is the fact that some of the keys have changed shape. Whereas previously, MS had kept the striking surface consistent across the different keys (even at the edge), this keyboard has several keys along the ridge that have different striking surfaces.
Interestingly, this keyboard also features the return of the front riser (available on the older versions of the MS ergo keyboards). Actually, in recent months, I've been doing exactly this, but with my own ad hoc methods :) This is a much better solution. The riser is easily removable for those that prefer the standard configurations.
Note that this keyboard is *USB only*, which means that it may be incompatible with some older motherboards. Not a problem for me as I'm using it with a newer laptop. The keyboard does come with software for the programmable keys and extra functions, but it's plug and play right out of the box with WinXP.
I also appreciate the new forward and back buttons for use with web browsing (work with no drivers). The zoom slider in the middle of the keyboard, however, seems inapproriately used. It would have been much more useful as a scroll slider instead.
Sizewise, it takes up slightly more surface space than my wireless elite, but is much, much thinner.
My only complaints are that the space key is a little bit stiff out of the box (maybe it'll loosen up a bit after usage), the distance from Ctrl to the number keys seems to have increased a bit (on the scale of millimeters, this is important for those of us hitting Ctrl+F5 quite often ;-), the Delete key is now the same size as the other keys in the cluster (which some people may prefer, but I need to adjust to due to the extra large delete key on the Wireless Elite set), the Enter key is slightly smaller (by 3-5mm), and the key response is not as "soft" as say the ones I recently sampled on the MS bluetooth keyboard, but still very comfortable.
Overall, a very high quality keyboard. If you can wait, there is sure to be a wireless version coming soon. But anyone that spends a significant amount of type working with computers will be able to appreciate the new layout after 1-2 days of adjustment to the new curvature. I'm very happy with my purchase and would highly recommend this keyboard to my fellow programmers :)
UPDATE: In the past few days, I've had an inquiry into whether I'm still satisfied with the keyboard. The answer is a big, bold *YES*. As I was telling a colleague, this keyboard simply rocks. I can type hours on end without pain. My "seat of the pants" impression is that I also type _faster_ with this keyboard. As I pointed out above, I think that most people will have to go through a period of adjustment to really feel comfortable and fall in love with this keyboard, even if you're coming from a previous Microsoft Ergo series keyboard.