As I promised earlier, I’m back to review the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.
The 4000 is the latest in Microsoft’s line of ergonomic keyboards targeted at computer professionals which includes the formerly quite popular Microsoft Natural Elite and Microsoft Natural Pro keyboards, the latter having been my favorite keyboard for a very long time.
Since the Natural Pro has been discontinued for many years, I’ve been searching for worthy successor from Microsoft (as I’m getting tired of buying them on eBay whenever I need a new one). Did I find it in the 4000? Nope.
The 4000 is generally well-designed, sporting essentially the same width as the Natural Pro and correcting a few of its flaws (such as having a wider spacing between the left- and right-hand key groups and replacing the Natural Pro’s “ridged” keys with flat versions, as shown in the image below).
However, the 4000 fails in three key aspects:
- Key resistance. Like the Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 I reviewed last time, the 4000 has a very unsatisfying “mushy” response to a key press. This results in occasional lost keystrokes and generally requires more effort to type than the pro. Bleah.
- No “Next / Previous Track” buttons. I use these all the time on the Natural Pro.
- No USB ports. The Natural Pro has a built-in two port USB 1.1 hub, and I really miss not having this in other keyboards. A built-in two port USB 2.0 hub would have been fantastic.
If not for the key resistance problem, I could probably live with this keyboard and just re-assign one of its five user-programmable keys (in fact, all the keys are user-programmable). But, with all its flaws together, I’ll have to stick with the Natural Pro for another year.