Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop Review

Microsoft’s redesigned its ergonomic desktop product with an eye to mobility. It won’t suit everyone — but it’s very comfortable indeed.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop: On the plus side

Microsoft make great peripheral hardware, and have done so for many years now. I’m particularly enamoured of their ergonomic keyboard line, and I should state that upfront.
Why do so? Because the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 has been my tool of the trade for many years now, dating back to a comprehensive review of keyboards I did for APC some time back. We’re talking more than a decade here. As such, I have certain expectations for an ergonomic keyboard, so when Microsoft announced new sculpted ergonomic keyboards and mice, I was intrigued.
The Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop comprises the Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop Keyboard and the Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse. The Ergonomic Mouse is a large blob of a mouse with a prominent thumb groove which proves comfortable for extended periods of use. There is a slight learning curve here due to its rather arched design, but it’s not anything particularly onerous if you’re after a comfortable office mouse; those with more game-centric sensibilities are unlikely to be swayed.
Mind you, the average gamer probably would loathe the sculpted keyboard itself. It’s certainly shed a fair bit of bulk from the older desktop model, which has certain benefits if you’re lacking in desk space or wanted to use it for sofa-based surfing. The number pad has been split off into its own calculator-sized unit, which means you can place it wherever you like, or ignore it completely if it’s of no use to you at all.
The other bigger change I noted shifting from the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 to the sculpted keyboard was that key travel — the distance you press down on a key — has been greatly reduced. This gives typing on the sculpted keyboard a distinctly notebook style feel, as well as significantly quieter typing.
Both mouse and keyboard work off a single USB connector, and in my tests the range was quite impressive. There’s certainly some scope for larger screened or mobile use with this keyboard, something that’s flat out impossible with the older ergonomic model.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop: On the minus side

There are a few downsides to the new design. The function keys have been shrunk down to around half size, which makes them somewhat harder to hit. As is the norm with most keyboards, they serve double duty as additional functions ranging from volume to search duties. If you’re a heavy function key advocate, expect a learning curve.
The separated number pad does have flexibility, but at the same time it’s introduced a few interesting design quirks into the overall layout of the keyboard. The Home/End/PageUp/PageDown keys are now squashed in at the side of the enter key, where on the older keyboard they sat separately.
I’ve had to retrain my muscle memory to get this right — and I still make plenty of mistakes. The number pad itself is also perfectly flat, which means if you were to use it extensively, you’re back in the same unergonomic territory of a regular keyboard.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop: Pricing

The RRP for the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop is $129; shopping around reveals some outlets online selling it for as low as $99 at the time of writing.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop: Fat Duck verdict

Split keyboards take time to learn, and they’re not to everyone’s taste. There are some limitations with the new sculpted design. There’s part of me that wishes the number pad was still bolted onto the side, and the smaller function keys take some getting used to.
That being said, the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop is a worthy update to the existing design if you’re a heavy typist with ongoing wrist issues.

1 thought on “Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop Review”

  1. I bought it last week and I’m still learning how to use it and adapting my stance to it but I definitely feel more comfortable.

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