Looks like Microsoft has a new keyboard coming out. Their Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 features a split keyboard design with key rows that are curved to better match the hand’s natural shape. The 14° split between the two halves of the keyboard encourages better wrist and arm alignment, reducing the potential for developing repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
The other new feature on this keyboard is the addition of a “zoom slider”, which allows you to zoom in and out (change text size) in web pages, e-mails, documents, and spreadsheets. The zoom slider is located in the area between the split keys.
Other features include programmable favorite keys, e-mail and Internet keys, multimedia keys, and an integrated, cushioned wrist/palm rest. It’s not clear whether the Internet Hot Keys will support FireFox & Thunderbird, or if the multimedia keys will support WinAmp. If not, they’ll be rather useless, at least for me.
I’ll be interested in seeing and trying out this new keyboard. I wasn’t too impressed with the previous generation (see Microsoft Optical Desktop Pro: Thumbs Down). I hope they’ve addressed the key-quality issues, and improved on the chintzy, mushy keyboard feel.
The Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 lists for $64.95, and will be available in September 2005. It connects to your computer via USB or a PS/2 keyboard port, and supports both Windows XP and Mac.