Microsoft Natural keyboard
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Microsoft Natural Keyboard is a computer keyboard that was introduced by Microsoft in 1995. The keyboard was a split keyboard with each half of the keyboard separated and tilted upwards and down from the center of the keyboard. This key arrangement was ergonomically designed to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries associated with typing for long periods of time. The keyboard also helps to ensure correct posture while sitting in at the computer.
Although it was not the first ergonomic keyboard, it was the first that was widely available and reasonably priced. This keyboard has gained wide popularity.
In 1999, Microsoft introduced the Natural Keyboard Pro and the Natural Keyboard Elite as upgraded replacements for the original Natural Keyboard. A common criticism of the Elite is that the arrow keys inverted-T layout has been changed into a cross-like layout, with left/right arrows keys side by side and up/down keys bracketing them from above and below. It is said that this change makes the arrow keys hard to use. The Natural Keyboard Pro retained the original inverted-T layout.
In 2004, Microsoft introduced the Wireless Natural MultiMedia Keyboard, which introduced a row of customizable buttons above the function keys for launching applications or controlling play of music. A common criticism of this keyboard is the F Lock key located right beside F12, which toggles the functions keys from sending normal signals or common task signals such as Undo Redo, Open etc. The primary problem is that the default state of the F Lock is "enabled" meaning that the keyboard normally overrides the standard F-functions and instead attempts to perform the "enhanced" functions theoretically enabled by the software (which of course assumes, often incorrectly, that the user desires these enhanced functions and/or has installed the optional software.) It is not possible to disable this toggle either through the bundled software or by chosing not to install the software. Without the software installed, the F keys will do nothing, and toggling them back to normal by using the F Lock has been found by some to be unreliable as the keyboard will often randomly and inexplicably "untoggle" the F Lock key. Another common criticism is that although the bunched arrow keys of previous generation has been fixed by returning to the standard inverted T layout, but the Home/End/Del/Ins/Page up/down set has been changed to 3x2 vertical layout, with ins keys removed and del key expanded.
In September 2005, Microsoft introduced the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. This keyboard provides a significantly changed ergonomic design, an integrated leatherette wrist rest and a "hump" in the middle of the keyboard that ensures that the wrist angle is correct. It also ships with a removable front stand that allows the fingers to drop naturally onto the keys without any bending of the wrist. Additionally, the home/end key location set has been fixed by returning to the standard 2x3 horizontal rectangular layout. The F Lock key now defaults to "on", providing the original function key features rather than the new enhanced functions, and retains its setting across reboots. The 4000 is also significantly quieter to type on. With this model, there is less of the distinctive "click clack" noise that is common with older keyboards that have mechanical switches.
With most of Microsoft keyboards, software (Microsoft IntelliType) is bundled for both Mac OS X and Windows, allowing users to customize the function keys and modifier keys fairly extensively.
Reviews of the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000
- Spark'd Blog review by John Pastor (posted July 9th, 2006)
- Everything USB review written by Scott Clark (posted November 3rd, 2005)
- PC World review written by Michael S. Lasky (posted October 25, 2005)
- Independent review written by SaguratuS (posted October 20, 2005)
- Blog comment from theAppleBlog posted (posted October 13, 2005)
- Clubic review written by Julien Jay (posted October 12, 2005) (French)
- The Globe and Mail review written by Ian Johnson (posted October 11, 2005)
- Virtual-Hideout review written by Diceman (posted October 7, 2005)
- wongaBlog independent review written by Andrew West (posted October 1st, 2005)
- Coding Horror independent review written by Jeff Atwood (posted September 28, 2005)
- CNet Asia review written by Felisa Yang (posted September 21, 2005)
- HardwareCentral review written by Eric Grevstad (posted September 20, 2005)
- Gear Live review written by Rob Stevens (posted September 5, 2005)
- ActiveWin review written by Robert Stein
- Amazon.com customer reviews
- Review of The Microsoft Natural Multimedia Keyboard and The Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 by Xah Lee, 2006
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