The latest in a long line of ergonomic keyboards builds on its predecessors, but is let down by a less than ergonomic mouse
Love them or hate them, the ergonomic keyboard has been an alternative to the standard QWERTY variety for several years. Microsoft has been the market leader in split keyboards, offering their Natural and Desktop ranges that have moved through several incarnations. The latest is the Ergonomic Desktop 7000 that basically takes the previous desktop 4000 combo and makes the keyboard wireless.
Like its predecessor the keyboard is designed to promote the best possible positioning for your hands as you type. The padded wrist rest has been maintained, with the detachable base enabling a more acute angle to be achieved. Experimentation is the key to deciding what is the optimal typing angle for you. This reviewer found attaching the base made the whole keyboard too high. Just using the pop-out feet at the rear of the keyboard was more than enough to obtain a comfortable typing angle.
The so-called ‘gull wing’ split keyboard has been retained for this version of the ergonomic desktop. The centre of the keyboard contains the zoom rocker switch that you can operate with your thumb. The slopping design of the keys is the feature that promotes more ergonomic typing. The keys closest to the centre of the unit are slightly larger, but all the keys are of a good enough size to ensure you can hit them without overlapping another key. For none touch typists the slopping keyboard can promote a better typing style that can aid any RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) that dogs many users of traditional keyboards.
The keyboard is fitted with the usual array of F keys that double up as addional function keys to reduce the number of times you have to reach for your mouse. What was disappointing was the lack of multimedia controls that have still failed to appear on this version of the Microsoft Desktop. On this model only volume and play/pause are available. Also, Microsoft’s designers have seen fit to remove the LEDs that indicate if the caps lock or F key lock are activate. There is no visual indication on the keyboard when you hit the caps lock, either intentionally or by accident. These indicators have been replaced with s single batter life indicator. Removing the previous array of LEDs is a glaring omission that you can cure with additional software, but diminishes the overall quality of the experience when using the keyboard.
Five customisable buttons sit over the central section of the keyboard. You can attach functions to these with the IntelliPoint software. A separate button to launch the Widows calculator and dedicated buttons for accessing the web, search and mail round off this bank of buttons. As this is a Microsoft product many of the keys are for Windows users only, but Mac afictionardos can also happily use this keyboard as this reviewer does, but you have to be prepared to lose some of the built-in functionality. The high price may well make that decision for you.
Turning to the bundled mouse, this is the component that is least successful in this wireless desktop package. Looking like a sculpted tennis ball, your hand does wrap around the shape quite nicely, but the large size of the mouse means that your wrist is bent up at an angle – not the most ergonomic use of mouse technology. To cure this problem the addition of a wrist rest brings your hand back into alignment. In use the mouse is accurate, but it’s large size does feel like you’re pushing a large ball around your mouse mat. Accuracy could be a problem if you’re used to more traditionally shaped mice. This is a mouse you’ll either instantly love, or instantly hate.
The IntelliPoint software has gone through several incarnations over the years. Now at version 6.1, you have complete control over every aspect of your keyboard and mouse. Customisation is the name of the game to give you the input devices with the functions you need. Complete control over key settings, options and zooming is available including the innovative Instant Viewer that enables you to mark a section of your screen for magnification.
Overall, if you have the previous USB version of the Microsoft Desktop and would like to banish the USB cable for good, the Desktop 7000 is ideal. The USB 2.4Ghz wireless USB transceiver is reliable and easy to install. If you’ve been using Microsoft’s previous split keyboards, you’ll have zero adjustment time with this latest model. The accompanying mouse is, however, another matter entirely. It’s a leap from a more traditional mouse to this latest design that you’ll either take to, or abandon very quickly.
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 3
Price £65 (best price)