Longevity Review: Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

After more than a year of using the Ergo 4000, I thought I’d do an update review, because it’s hard to find reviews that cover durability and long term ergonomic performance (and I promised one, in my original review, it’s a little tardy.)

Durability:

First, let me say that the keyboard has held up extremely well. I sit at my computer for most of every day – typing (writing fiction) for 6-8 hours during the weekdays and gaming (heavy use of ‘a’ ‘s’ ‘d’ ‘w’ ‘e’ & ‘q’ keys and, for me, the number pad) most evenings for at least 2 hrs. and at least one weekend day for 3-4 hours a session (often two sessions in a day) Yes, that’s a lot of computer time, but it’s my life, atm, and it’s good for anyone wondering about this keyboard – this thing is tested! Usually, after about 8 months of that kind of (ab)use, keyboards that cost about the same as this one will be starting to fade – the space bar will be sticking, the ‘n’, ‘b’ & ‘t’ keys will need to be hit a bit harder, or held down for a longer and I’ll be researching my next keyboard. The ergo 4000 is 16months old, now, and it’s not yet necessary – not for durability reasons, anyway.

 

Ergonomics:

There’s no doubting that both the split keyboard and using the foot under the wrist pads relieves a lot of wrist strain. It was truly a revelation, for as long as I could use the foot. This keyboard is BIG in every direction – foot print and rise. Using the front foot requires a large amount of table space – it certainly won’t fit in most keyboard draws (unless you can leave them pulled out at all times.)  Unfortunately, when we moved to Bangkok, just over a year ago, I didn’t have the room to use the foot for the first few months, when I moved to a larger table, I had mislaid the foot. Still, even without the foot it is definitely more comfortable for my wrists than my non-split keyboards and the split keyboards without a curve to their keys. Nevertheless, when it comes to it, no matter how well shaped this keyboard is, again, it is a BIG board, with big keys and big spaces between them, and I have small hands.

I guess most geeks who write reviews like this are male, because, even when discussing ergonomics, it’s rare that size of hands comes up, unless it’s to complain about keyboards being too small. I’m 5’4” (164cm) tall, and while my wrists were well taken care of, my fingers have to stretch in all directions to reach between keys, especially my poor little pinkies, with all the shifting, ctrl-x, and ctrl-v work I do.

Today, I’m typing on my Logitech Wave keyboard, because the keys are curved, closer together and raised according to the length of the fingers a touch typists uses. My wrists are sore, and my fingers are a little sore, too, from reigning my fingers in to readjust and because the keys are far stiffer, but nowhere near as sore as they have been on the 4000. I’ve found forearm soreness comes mostly from overuse of finger tendons, so for that the wave is better, too, but I won’t be able to keep it up, and I’ve been researching keyboards, again.

 

Verdict:

Durability: For the price, excellent.

Ergonomics: For large hands, excellent. For small hands, good for the wrists, but not for the fingers (or forearms.)

I believe that what I need is a keyboard with a good split but keys closer together, preferably arranged similarly to the wave, so that stretch is minimal, and raised at the front to avoid pronation. In other words, best of both worlds and, astonishingly, I may have found it, for a price.

We move next week, and as soon as we do I’ll be ordering this:

 

Kinesis Advantage Ergo KeyboardIt’s made by Kinesis and it’s called “Advantage”. It’s expensive, hugely if you think the 4000 is pricey, but I’m willing to pay for the combination of a split which keeps the arms in an extremely natural position, keys set down in a well which is curved so they come up to the fingers, and which many male reviewers lament are too close together. I’ll be buying direct from the manufacturer, who ship to Thailand, so I’ll have 60 days to try it and return it, too.

Stand by!