Between school and this website, I’ve been finding myself typing more and more recently. So under the guise of ‘health and safety’, I decided it was time to ditch the regular keyboard and spring for an ergonomic one. I picked up an OEM version of the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic keyboard 4000 from DirectCanada for under $30CAD. It was a pretty good deal, considering Future Shop sells the same keyboard, but with a nicely colored retail box for $80+. Having used regular keyboards, all my life, I thought it’d be nice to quickly provide some thoughts on the transition to a split keyboard while I’m still in the frustrating process of relearning my typing.
First off, let me make it clear that I don’t type properly at all. I don’t place my hands on the proper home position – in fact I don’t even use all my fingers when typing. However, I still type mostly without looking – my hands have developed a ‘memory’ for where the keys are. So this fact will probably mean more trouble for me than someone who actually types properly to switch keyboards.
Many of the keys aren’t where my fingers expect them to be on this keyboard. I didn’t realize just how improperly I type until now; I can type plenty fast, but I cross over the middle of the keyboard with my hands. Since this is a split keyboard, crossing over the middle to type, say a ‘Y’ results me hitting hard plastic instead. Using a by the seat of my pants estimation, I’d say my typing has decreased in speed by over 1/3 and it’s also substantially more inaccurate. I’ve only used the keyboard for a couple hours at this point so I’m optimistic that both speed and accuracy will improve. If nothing else, perhaps I’ll learn to type properly, as this sort of keyboard almost forces that.
Making up for the forced typing lesson, the keys feel absolutely spectacular. The Logitech keyboard that I’ve been using has fairly loud, clackety keystrokes. The Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000’s keys are much softer and nicer to the touch, in my opinion. I know many others feel just the opposite; some of the reviews I read before buying the keyboard mentioned soft, mushy keys as a negative. The only complaint I have is that the space bar sometimes ‘catches’, or doesn’t go down smoothly if you press it in certain spots, notably, the very top of the bar.
And perhaps the most important thing, the reason I purchased the keyboard in the first place – comfort. It absolutely without question feels more natural on the wrists with this keyboard and the palm rest is beyond anything I’ve used up to this point. I’m sure I’ll feel even more differences as I use the keyboard more. One thing I have noted is that my shoulders feel a little more tense than before due to the higher elevation at the front of the keyboard. Because the desk I’m using this on is already relatively high, compared to the chair I sit in, the additional raised edge means I’m raising my shoulders a bit higher to reach my hands over the keyboard. I’m going to try adjusting my chair to see if I can’t get my arms into a more natural position. My elbows form something around a 70 degree angle, as opposed to the 90+ degree angle most recommend.
I’ll be sure to write a review down the road when I use and familiarize myself with the keyboard a little more. So far so good though.