Microsoft sculpt ergonomic desktop bluetooth
Ellen Singer is kicking off the Keyboard Corner with a review of the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop keyboard. Thanks for being the first, Ellen!
I have been using an ergonomic keyboard for more than 15 years now. As do our office colleagues. It takes a day or two to get used to, but most end up buying one for home use as well. The hand position is more natural, meaning we can work more hours without having to deal with cramps or other uncomfortable issues.
It costs about 100 euro if you do not shop around for a better deal.
The keyboard is split from the number pad as many users do not use it much. I do, as I use the ALT digits codes to type special characters, mainly in Spanish, but sometimes even when I write in Dutch or even, very rarely, in English. I can now choose where to put it on my desk. I sometimes move it around to find the most comfortable place or, more often than not, to switch the required arm movement.
The domed keyboard shape makes sure you are not doomed to muscle pain (RSI and such).
The Advanced Encryption Standard technology is used to encrypt the keystrokes. The keyboard and receiver are paired at the factory. This means the key stroke information cannot be shared with other devices. In most offices this mainly means you have no interference from one keyboard to another.
The backspace button can be used when navigating the Internet to move to the previous page as long as you are not in a text box.
You can tilt the keyboard in the opposite way if that fits your needs.
The keyboard is light, it weighs just over 400 grams plus the batteries.
The keyboard is also sold as a set with a mouse that is also ergonomic and has a four-way scroll wheel (up, down, left and right).
The set requires 150 MB Hard Drive space. It requires two AAA alkaline batteries, but as opposed to the wireless keyboards of the past you do not have to replace the batteries often (actually, I can barely remember having to replace them except when I had not removed the batteries when I packed it in a suitcase).
It is a Microsoft product, thus it requires a Windows operating system.
A previous ergonomic model. The number pad was included and so it did not fit in a carry-on bag.
Some keys started to jam with time.
If I go to a conference but have not been able to complete my project on hand I can take my keyboard in a carry-on bag. It does take up space but not half as much as the previous model. I do remove the batteries and put these with the number pad into a container to make sure the batteries are still working when I reach my destination.
I used to take an old keyboard along and discard it at the end of a trip to make room for souvenirs…
I connect the MS Sculpt to my laptop. I hate laptop keyboards. When will the industry make a laptop with an ergonomic keyboard?
Cannot think of anything… except that I should not forget to take the batteries along separately.
Wait! The only drawback is that the soft front section stains easily. It had an imprint of my right hand after having eaten something at my desk soon after I bought it. I can probably remove the stain; I have just not taken action yet.
Beware, once you have used an ergonomic keyboard for one or two full days, there is no going back!
Ellen Singer is a freelance translator with nearly twenty years of experience as a full time translator and project manager and three years as a translation conference speaker. She owns a small technical translation agency with her husband that focuses on quality. She loves challenges and knowledge and enjoys cooperating with others.
Over to you
If you use the Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop keyboard, like or dislike it, or have any questions about it, please leave a comment below.
Want to write about another keyboard? Check out this introductory post to the Keyboard Corner!
Update December 2016:
Microsoft has just brought out a new version of the MS Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard. It now connects with Bluetooth and the numeric pad is back on the main board. If you have this keyboard and would like to review it here, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
Hat tip to Stefanie Sendelbach
9 Responses to Keyboard Corner: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
I use Sculpt for about two years now. I went through an array of keyboards before: some cheap stuff with nice click lasting no more than 6 months, a very good Logitech (I still have it and use occasionally) and MS Ergonomic 4000 (actually two, one was destroyed by several drops of coffee). The last one was good, but had a heavy click, requirng a lot of force to type, so I was really happy when I switched to Sculpt, which is comparable to best ThinkPad keyboards (if you know what I mean), with ergonomic layout as a bonus. What I don’t like – it took me a loooong time to get used to unusual Enter/Del/Ins/PgUp/PgDown layout. I’m also not impressed with the build quality – some keys labels are completely worn out, the ridges on F and J are not detectable anymore and some keys are not working properly, most notably PgDown. and some function keys. Which means I’m thinking about buying new Sculpt (I’m not switching, typing expierience is great). BTW, when it comes to batteries, mine last really long – I’ve replaced first set after over a year. And wireless connectivity means I sometimes take the keyboard from the desk and keep it on my lap for typing.
I agree, Marek, that one of the drawbacks of ergonomic keyboards is that they tend to place navigation keys in unusual positions. The learning curve is big – and it’s frustrating. Until I learn where these keys are without looking down, it’s a productivity killer. Switching from an external keyboard to a laptop keyboard needs to be easy (unless, like Ellen, you don’t mind travelling with an extra keyboard in your bag).
I never tried one of them. I think it´s because the model made me afraid of not liking it. But it is good to know your story and the benefits of this keyboard. Maybe I will give it a try!
My experience with the MS Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard is limited to just a few hours (when I was working at someone else’s computer). The ergonomic shape was immediately comfortable and the tilt, tenting and split felt natural. But I didn’t like the membrane keys. They felt hard work in comparison with mechanical keyboards that are so light to type on.
I’ve been using the Sculpt for around 9 months now and I really love it. Granted, I was just using my laptop keyboard before, so I don’t have too much to compare it to, but it has helped me in lots of ways. I hardly get pain in my arms and hands anymore, even after typing non-stop all day (although I do use Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which has definitely helped). I think the split design has made me a better touch-typer. I use the bracket that clips onto the underside to tilt the keyboard, which feels very natural and means I don’t have to rest my wrists as much as I do when I use a flat keyboard. I like that the keypad is separate as I don’t use it often and it saves space on my desk. It’s also quite portable and I take it in my backpack when I go to a co-working space once a week. Finally, I like how the keys feel under my fingers – it’s somewhere between a laptop and a traditional keyboard. I would definitely recommend it!
Another tangential, about battery issues when taking accessories, like keyboards, on travels. I’ve travelled widely and endlessly with a laptop since 1985 (starting with a Bondwell 2, C/PM with WordStar, Lotus 123 and ProComm for email!). I now have a well-honed battery strategy, with my own writing or text/film editing work requiring a large keyboard. I stopped using my Sharp PDA in 1992, still better than most tablets I’ve seen since! My occasional trips now see me with an Asus 14” laptop, a full size Microsoft Wireless keyboard 3000 2.0 and wireless mouse and an Olympus DS voice recorder for broadcast quality IVs. And for back-ups, a USB storage chip in a credit card-like medium, gifted by the Schiphol Hilton. AA and AAA batteries are as essential as my ID and pills! My three-and-a-half tips. 1. Keep batteries in their place, without wearing them down when not in use. Instead of removing the batteries from the mouse and keyboard and maybe losing them, I break the electric current by inserting a thin plastic divider between the battery and device contact points. Best so far: the pull-off tab from a plaster (BandAid). When I need to use the device, I remove the divider and keep it rolled around a battery. 2. One-for-all bag. I keep all my wires, adaptors, jacks, plugs, small accessories (mouse, recorder), spare set of batteries (and some coffee sticks) in a tightly-packed airplane amenities bag. Preferred: Swiss First. 3. Recharge: as a second back-up, I also pack a wee solar battery charger and 2 AA and AAAs. 4. As for the cramped hotel desk issue, with a laptop and large keyboard, I raise the laptop onto a platform made of a) two freezer boxes which have been packed with stuff in my hand baggage, b) four coffee mugs from the night porter, c) two Nespresso capsule cases, or d) two wooden or metal tissue-box casings. The keyboard slides under the platform. – Paul (NL)
The Sculpt ergonomic keyboard and mouse set has been really helpful in making my working day more comfortable. As Ellen points out, the only drawback is the awful material on the wrist rest, I recommend cleaning it with a microfibre cloth and soapy water fairly regularly. The price is quite reasonable as well, I ended up buying two sets for 160 EUR. The Sculpt mouse was the only upright mouse I could get used to, although one of the smaller thumb buttons needs disabling in the software to avoid accidental clicking. I tried a lot of keyboards before I settled with this one and I’m glad I put so much effort into improving the ergonomics in my office, the health benefits are obvious.
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop review
The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop keyboard and mouse are well-designed wireless peripherals with dedicated Windows controls. Here’s our Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop review.
There’s a lot to like about the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop. It’s a well-designed and made ergonomic wireless peripherals with dedicated Windows controls. And although far from cheap they offer a good feature set at a decent price. The mouse didn’t work brilliantly in our tests, but that may be an issue with Bluetooth interference, and we love the keyboard. Definitely worth considering if you require ergonomic peripherals.
A wireless mouse and keyboard combo, the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop will certainly elicit Комментарии и мнения владельцев, once you place it on your desk. It is striking to look at – and not a little different to use. But there’s peripheral gold in these hills. As well might there be, given the price. See all mice and keyboard reviews.
In reviewing these devices I’ve tried to recognise where my personal reaction relates to getting used to something radically different and new, and where there are genuine issues good and bad. To utilise all features of the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop keyboard and mouse requires a PC running Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows RT or Windows 7.
You need a spare USB port and two AAA alkaline batteries (the latter are included in the box).
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop review: design and build
There are, in fact, three pieces to this particular puzzle. You get the main keyboard, the mouse, and a secondary numerical keypad (the latter genuinely excited the guy from accounts). If you want a fourth device there is of course the USB-connected transceiver, aka the wireless dongle.
Build is Microsoft’s usual solid peripheral quality, and the materials are once again mostly plastic. Design is of the slick black flavour. Shiny black plastic combined with matt black plastic in fact, to make a stylish if understated melange of blackness. Detailing is mostly white with the occasional patch of Windows 8 blue.
The main keyboard is a sight to behold. As with many ergonomic keyboards it is in essence a game of two halves. ‘Qwert’ lives on one side of an hour-glass shaped divide, ‘yuiop’ on the other. The spacebar bridges this gap, but is broken over the two sides.
The overall effect is of the keyboard rising up in the middle. It’s as if a standard keyboard was melted down and draped across a towel rail. Microsoft refers to it as a ‘domed’ design.A magnetic stand fixes to the underside of the keyboard, raising it up toward the typist, as if you were typing on the raised rear bumper of a sports car. It connects magnetically, making using the keyboard stable and unfussy. This stand supports the cushioned wrist rest, a generously proportioned area covered in smooth black foam. On the underside is also a flip-out door that hosts the batteries – two AAAs.
The keys themselves are of the scrabble-tile variety. They are matt black, set into a shiny black fascia. Letters and symbols are white out of black. It’s not a small nor a light keyboard at 392 x 228 x 59 mm and 836 g. But neither is it intended to be portable, so it’s not important unless desk space is at a premium.
The separate numeric keypad is very much the upstart little brother. A small square of keyboard in a similar style to the main keyboard, it is however flat and traditionally oblong. It measures 928 x 132 x 117 mm and weighs 100g.
And then there is the mouse, back on the non-traditional side of the fence. This is a squat circular beast. It reminds me of nothing so much as a block of mozzarella. You may have a less obviously middle-class reaction, and should feel free to make your own mouse/cheese joke here: ….
The bottom and sides are matt black, the left- and right-click buttons up top are shiny black. A scroll wheel is set into the middle of those and a bright blue Windows button sits where your thumb rests – if you are a right-handed mouser.
Again the mouse is a good size. We’ll talk about the ergonomics in the next section, but suffice to say that at 749 x 982 x 567 mm and 155 g it’s a big old chunk of rodent.
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop review: in use
Everyone hates change (by ‘everyone’, I of course mean ‘I’). I’ve been using flat keyboards for a couple of decades of work, perfectly happily. There is no point in even pretending that a move from standard to ergonomic is a simple matter.
My early attempts at typing looked like this: myear artsmpts and tyeping. But even one so ham-fisted as I could get to grips with things fairly quickly (I typed this review on the Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard).
And the benefits are plain – and probably best explained by someone with a greater scientific understanding than me.
A physiotherapist friend of mine described it thus: ‘An ergonomically designed keyboard should keep your hands and arms in a relaxed position as you type.’ The domed keyboard shape should, I’m told, reduce what experts refer to as ‘pronation’ – unnatural twisting of your wrists so that they face directly downwards for lengthy periods. This in turn can cause long-term problems such as carpal-tunnel syndrome.
It’s worth pointing out that an ergonomic keyboard truly helps only as part of an ergonomic setup. In my case the weirdness of the keyboard forced me out of my normal hunched up position, making me address my keyboard straight on. Within this – admittedly anecdotal – scenario I found it comfortable to use, and I found I didn’t get the upper back pain I often experience at the end of a long day at the editorial coalface.
There’s lots to like about the typing experience. Keys are different shapes and sizes, in order to make them as easy to find as possible. It works. After a relatively short period we found typing without looking was virtually error free. The keys themselves have a satisfying level of travel, and they spring back against your digits. You are never in doubt as to whether a key stroke has registered.
Setup is simple. Pop in the dongle and away you go. Alas, this wasn’t the case with the mouse. But let’s first concentrate on the positives.
The big round shape of the Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse also takes some time to feel natural. It fits right into the palm of your hand, unlike a typical computer mouse with which you would rest your wrist flat to the desk. As such is good for you… ergonomically. The position of the buttons and the scroll wheel felt natural pretty much straight away, and when using Windows 8 in particular the addition of a Windows button (against which your thumb naturally sits) is a good one.
We did have some problems with the Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse however. Initial setup was fraught – the mouse wasn’t recognised at all until we removed everything else from our desktop PC’s USB ports, and restarted our Windows PC. Even then we found the mouse’s tracking to be extremely sensitive, and not a little inconsistent.
We have experienced something similar with other wireless rodents in the past. I’m willing to bet that there may be a level of interference from one or some of the many Bluetooth devices in use within a short space of my desk.
Of course I tried it on other computers in the room, with similar results.
Using Windows’ built-in settings I was able to get the Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse to a workable level, but unlike the keyboard I will be putting it back in its box once this test is over. Which is a shame because it is a well-built device that feels comfortable in use.
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop review: value
The typical response when faced with the price of branded wireless peripherals is ‘how much?’ Wireless mice and keyboards – the good ones anyway – are not cheap. Nor should they be, the part of the PC with which you interact is important and, like the display, this is an area in which it is well worth paying for quality.
Microsoft’s own price for this mouse and keyboard bundle is £99. When you consider the design, build and feature set that is actually pretty reasonable. Not cheap, but you get what you pay for.
And you could certainly pay less. Indeed, a quick online search reveals that the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop can be purchased for just £54. That’s a bargain.
If you need ergonomic you are unlikely to get much that is useful for any less. Step outside those confines, however, and a combination such as the Cherry DW 8000 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse will cost just over half what you must lay out for the Microsoft. So work out what you need, and shop around.
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop: Specs
- Wireless qwerty UK-English keyboard, numeric keypad, optical mouse
- ergonomic design
- USB Bluetooth dongle
- soft-touch keys
- 392 x 228 x 59 mm and 836 g (keyboard)
- 928 x 132 x 117 mm
- 100 g (mouse)