A couple of weeks ago I got myself a new MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, that is, the black one with the split keys, and I'm loving it! I'm using it with my laptop, which I've now got on my desk in a simple stand so that the screen is raised at eye level and it works very nicely.

Before this, I used to use one of the older original Microsoft Natural Keyboards (the split one with the cursor keys in the right position) and I really liked it. It was working perfectly still after several years,  but it was a lot dirtier and the keys made a lot of noise. The new keyboard makes a lot less noise, except for the space key which is usually pretty noisy anyway.

Jeff Atwood posted a review of this keyboard a couple of years ago, so I won't repeat it here; he does a better job of it.

I did use the IntelliType software to change the behavior of a few of the special keys:

  • Changed the Web/home key to open Firefox instead of IE.
  • I was missing the Suspend key in the old natural keyboard, so I changed the Calculator key to run the following command: "rundll32" powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState. I found this trick somewhere, but I can't seem to remember where now! Unfortunately, it causes my machine to go into hibernate instead of sleep, but I don't mind it too much.
  • Remapped the Back and Forward keys to Previous/Next Track instead of controlling the browser.

One thing I did found pretty useless on the keyboard is the zoom thingie. Seems like it only really does something useful with the zoom capabilities in IE7, but since I rarely use IE it's not very useful. Also, it seems to work on most other programs by simulating the some Ctrl+Key combo, which is extremely annoying if you have the "Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key" option enabled in the mouse settings, like I do.

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Tomas Restrepo

Software developer located in Colombia. Sr. PFE at Microsoft.