Your Hands Will Thank You
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Years ago I began to develop pain in my right wrist, and using a keyboard for long periods of time made it worse. Seeing as using a keyboard for long periods of time is the way I make a living, this presented a conundrum. After doing some research, I bought a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 and my wrist pain eased. I haven’t looked back since and have grown to love the keyboard’s odd shape.
But the 4000 wasn’t perfect; it had mushy keys and the number-pad forced you to have your mouse way off to the right, which didn’t feel ergonomic at all. Would you believe it, it took Microsoft eight years to release the update to the 4000; the new Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop, with a manta-ray shape that actually makes ergonomic keyboards look cool for the first time.
The Sculpt instantly solves the 4000’s number one problem by detaching the number-pad. You can place it anywhere else you want, in my case I left it in the box and haven’t missed it. Without the number-pad, the Sculpt takes up much less space than the clunky 4000 and lets you place your mouse closer, and more comfortably, to your center.
The reason the number-pad can be detached is because the Sculpt is wireless, whereas the 4000 was not, so not only does it free up more real estate on your desk, it makes your desk neater too. Yay, minimalism. Notice that I say the Sculpt is wireless, not Bluetooth; you will need to dedicate a USB slot to connect the Sculpt’s wireless dongle.
The Sculpt also replaces the 4000’s mushy keys with laptoplike scissor keys. They feel better than the previous version, but the scissor keys sit closer to the Sculpt’s surface with less travel than the 4000’s, so you don’t get that satisfying ‘thud’, just a clicky click, and my fingers tend to mush against the Sculpt’s surface. All in all though, I’d rate the clicky click experience of the Sculpt’s keys an overall improvement over the 4000’s.
Unlike every other keyboard out there, the Sculpt eschews the Function key for a Function switch, on the top right of the layout. Yes, your Function keys can only serve either as Function keys, or as their assigned shortcut keys (like Play/Pause and Volume Up/Down). I’ve kept mine on the Function switch as I use them regularly; while I miss the shortcuts it’s just too much of a hassle to keep pushing the switch back and forth.
How about the mouse that comes with the Sculpt? I’m ambivalent about it; it does feel better for the hand, your wrist is elevated higher off a desk than a traditional mouse, but it never felt completely comfortable, and the scroll wheel is in an awkward place. Honestly, I could have done without the mouse, but there’s no option to purchase the Sculpt without it.
If you have wrist pain like I did, I highly recommend you give the Sculpt a try. And Microsoft... let’s try not to go eight years again without a word, okay?