Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

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Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

microsoft-keyboard.jpgFinding the perfect keyboard can be tricky, especially if you prefer the split “ergo” design to the traditional style—as the options for the former have become increasingly limited in recent years. Fortunately, we’ve long been able to count on Microsoft’s Natural Keyboard Pro, finding its combination of split design, traditional key layout, and integrated USB 1.0 ports superior to all others. Now it seems Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 could finally replace the aged Natural Pro as our split-keyboard of choice.

Instead of sporting the typical, and potentially uncomfortable, upward-tilting design, the Natural 4000 tilts down, away from you. The downward action puts your wrists above your fingers, which prevents you from contorting your wrists into an unhealthy position. And, indeed, our sensitive wrists remained free of irritation throughout our testing of the keyboard.

The “added features” are useful, but not revolutionary. There’s a series of custom macro buttons above the standard keys. We immediately configured ours to control our media player; alternatively, you could have them open specific applications or fire up certain keyboard shortcuts. A zoom toggle between the two halves of the keyboard is nice, but we’d rather use it to scroll up and down than to perform the default zoom/magnify function.

The 4000’s key action is soft and quiet, even compared with others of its ilk. We personally don’t mind a keyboard with more resistance and a healthy click, but we know some users will truly value the Natural 4000’s quietude. Also, the keys reside in comparatively shallow pockets, making the distance of travel for each key much shorter than that of a standard Keytronics keyboard, and even the Natural Keyboard Pro.

Like most boards we’ve tested recently, this keyboard sports the “enhanced” F-keys that “supplement” the default function of the F1-F12 keys. We’re not fans of this tack. What’s the point of adding hardwired keyboard shortcuts for functions like Print and Cut that already have perfectly serviceable keyboard shortcuts?

We miss the Natural Keyboard Pro’s integrated USB hub. But because we haven’t been able to use the unpowered hub for USB thumb drives above 512MB, its absence on the Natural 4000 isn’t devastating.

Month Reviewed: March 2006

Verdict: 9
kickass=yes

URL: www.microsoft.com

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RJohnston

This is my favorite keyboard by far. I've owned one for years. I'm on my second one now, but my first one definitely got its money's worth. I used that keyboard so much that it just died on me one day. Understandable, since I'm on my computer for about 14 hours everyday... As soon as a new model for this comes out, I will definitely be ordering it!

Rachel Johnston

order fulfillment

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NoradIV

It seems to be a membrane keyboard. I'm using a good old IBM model M, very clicky and very responsive. Since I use those, I can't anymore use membrane keyboard, they are just too umcomfortable to my touch... I'm seriously looking foward a remake of one of those, a good clikey keyboard!

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tomastaz

I really need one of those..... I'll go get one of those, I finally found a keyboard that I like.

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maniacm0nk3y

I have one of these. They are nice. Too bad it broke. This was awhile ago. Now I'm waiting for a replacement from Microsoft. It's been 4 months, but the first 2 months was me waiting for them to say they have some in stock.

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WombatMan

I agree totally.  I bought one of these keyboards for work, and liked it so much that I got one for home too.  And thanks to eBay, I got both of them for less than what one costs retail.  eBay FTW!

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shakyone

I bought the Ergo 4000 six months ago, based on your recommendation.  I have an older MS ergo keyboard at work, this one is much better.  Now I am in the market for another one.  Too bad the purchase has been delayed by ridiculous fuel costs...

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BaggerX

I just bought my third one.  The first one I bought for home died a horrible death due to a spill that it just couldn't recover from.  Bought a second one for home after that.  Just bought one for work too.  They've come down in price a lot since I got the first one.  Definitely worth it.

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