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Microsoft Intros Sculpt Comfort Keyboard for Windows 8

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 22 comments

Microsoft is launching a full-sized ergonomic keyboard for Windows 8 soon.

Microsoft Hardware revealed on Wednesday the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard, a Windows 8-focused ergonomic wireless peripheral featuring special shortcut keys and an enlarged split spacebar. It's the largest of Microsoft's latest batch of gadgets focused on the upcoming operating system that includes the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard and the Wedge Mobile Keyboard.

According to Microsoft Hardware, the spacebar was split in half as the result of internal research that showed 90-percent of typists use only their thumb to press the spacebar. That leaves a lot of unused real estate on the left side of the bar. Research also discovered that backspace is actually the third-most used key, following the spacebar and the letter "e". Thus, not only did Microsoft increase the spacebar's width, but it's now split down the middle, allowing users to assign the left side as a backspace key.

"In addition to increasing typing efficiency, the keyboard’s split spacebar also improves ergonomics by virtually eliminating the awkward 'pinky reach' to the standard backspace key, keeping wrists in a comfortable position," the company said. "The keyboard also sports Microsoft’s own Contour Curve design, which features a six-degree bend in the keyboard layout with a dome-shaped arc to help promote a comfortable, neutral wrist position while keeping keys within easy reach. Its removable palm rest can be used for added comfort or easily detached with the press of a button for a sleek, compact look."

In addition to the split spacebar, the keyboard also features Windows 8 keys that give users quick access to specific features on the upcoming OS including Search, Share, Device and Settings. These are parked along the top, sitting next to media keys that allows the user to adjust the volume and start/stop a video or audio file. There's also a Windows 8 key for loading up the Start screen – this pulls up the Start Menu in Windows 7, so it's still all good for users of the older OS.

We've had a chance to play with this keyboard for about a day, and so far the first impression is summed up into one word: big. Unlike the company's other two Windows 8 keyboards, it's full-sized and includes a number pad located off to the right side. A sticker was affixed to the left spacebar section when we pulled it out of the box, alerting to the new feature. Toggling the backspace feature isn't like flipping a switch (which is what you do when toggling the media/Windows 8 shortcut keys and the function keys). Instead users must hold both spacebar sections until an LED lights up at the far right corner, indicating that the left portion now performs as backspace.

For the uninitiated, Microsoft's curved ergonomic keyboards essentially force users to position their hands correctly on the keyboard – hunt and peck works, but not as well as it does on flat keyboards. The palm rest is padded, and can even be propped up by little legs attached on the bottom, causing the palms to sit higher (see above). This portion can be detached from the keyboard if it gets too annoying by simply switching the lock underneath.

Microsoft’s new keyboard also features another set of shortcuts seemingly focused on the Office environment. The left Control key is printed as "*Ctrl", and when pressed with one of fourteen other letters, users can perform quick functions like Save, Copy, Paste, Find and more. There's even a standalone calculator button located at the top right.

"With Microsoft’s new lineup of Windows 8 peripherals, we designed every piece of hardware to provide the best Windows experience possible on any device," said Brett Kelleran, general manager of Microsoft Hardware. "The Sculpt Comfort Keyboard brings the best of Microsoft to the desktop — advanced ergonomics, improved productivity, great design and features optimized for Windows."

Microsoft Hardware says the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard will be available "soon" at the online Microsoft Store and other participating retails for a surprising estimated cost of $59.99 USD. That means this Windows 8 keyboard could cost more or less when the gadget finally goes retail – honestly, we expected it to cost more than $60 -- it's that high-class.

Be sure to stayed tuned for our unboxing of this keyboard along with the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard, its smaller Bluetooth-based brother.


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  • 5 Hide
    rebel1280 , September 19, 2012 8:04 PM
    I was about to complain about all the keyboard articles (all from MS too ...) but ... this one is kinda sexy :) 
  • -4 Hide
    ELMO_2006 , September 19, 2012 8:04 PM
    First - LOL

    But seriously looks nice but I still prefer my *click-click-click* keyboards.

    It would be cool to have them old PS/2 IBM *clack-clack* keyboards available.
  • -5 Hide
    ELMO_2006 , September 19, 2012 8:05 PM
    Damn you beat me to it - LOL
  • Display all 22 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    spleenbegone , September 19, 2012 8:07 PM
    Honestly, it looks silly, but I'd love to give on a try for a week or so and see how comfortable it really is.
  • 2 Hide
    innocent bystander , September 19, 2012 8:14 PM
    I like the split space / backspace idea.

  • 3 Hide
    jhansonxi , September 19, 2012 8:22 PM
    innocent bystanderI like the split space / backspace idea.IB

    I have a Keytronics Flexpro with the same configuration. It was made over 10 years ago (PC-AT DIN5 connector). The additional key within thumb range might be useful for some games.
  • -1 Hide
    deadlockedworld , September 19, 2012 8:34 PM
    Instead they should launch a cheap touchpad so we can use windows 8.
  • 0 Hide
    ohim , September 19, 2012 8:45 PM
    each time i see an "ergonomic" keyboard i always get to see some strange design that actually makes it harder to work with
  • 1 Hide
    hate machine , September 19, 2012 8:54 PM
    deadlockedworldInstead they should launch a cheap touchpad so we can use windows 8.

    Define Cheap! MS is releasing three mice between 50-80 bucks with touch pads on them for Win 8.
  • 1 Hide
    mythostd , September 19, 2012 8:59 PM
    A few years back I had one of their curved keyboards. I think they are pretty comfortable. You spend less time moving your hands to hit various keys.
  • -2 Hide
    vertigo_2000 , September 19, 2012 9:06 PM
    Dvorak or it isn't worth it.
  • 0 Hide
    internetlad , September 19, 2012 9:06 PM
    ELMO_2006First - LOLBut seriously looks nice but I still prefer my *click-click-click* keyboards.It would be cool to have them old PS/2 IBM *clack-clack* keyboards available.

    They still are, unicomp makes them now.

    if you want something modern, go for any board with a cherry blue MX switch.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , September 19, 2012 9:11 PM
    Useless for gamers, as one uses the left thumb on the spacebar for jumping.
  • 3 Hide
    edogawa , September 19, 2012 9:52 PM
    ghUseless for gamers, as one uses the left thumb on the spacebar for jumping.

    Who said these are for gamers? It's for typing, did you miss the part that said:

    "Microsoft’s new keyboard also features another set of shortcuts seemingly focused on the Office environment."
  • 1 Hide
    Shin-san , September 19, 2012 10:34 PM
    ghUseless for gamers, as one uses the left thumb on the spacebar for jumping.

    Actually, the split/dual space bars might make it more responsive. Each spacebar in the split verion would have more torque available.
  • 0 Hide
    Shin-san , September 19, 2012 10:37 PM
    I just hope it'll be more water-resistant than the Natural 4000s. I buy those because they are on sale quite often. It's just that I'm extra-careful not to fry them. Microsoft knows this, and at least they are really cool about sending you a replacement
  • 0 Hide
    frenchbread , September 20, 2012 5:46 AM
    I like the keyboard. I'd probably buy it (except Microsoft's Sidewinder X4 better suites my needs).

    I must say I do think MS peripherals are well designed. I have the ergonomic Wireless 6000 and it's fantastic. Very comfortable, easy to type long papers on, and it even works well for gaming.

    Also, MS's peripheral customer support is great. The first keyboard I got had a defective X-key after a few months. MS set me a newer version for free no questions asked, and I didn't even have to send them my old keyboard.
  • 0 Hide
    K2N hater , September 20, 2012 12:59 PM
    Thought Win8 was all about touch screens...
  • 0 Hide
    john_4 , September 20, 2012 1:02 PM
    MS fanboys come out on this one and thumb down anyone who does not say nice things about it, Tools.
  • 0 Hide
    lpedraja2002 , September 20, 2012 1:33 PM
    I've never owned a keyboard like this but I've always liked ergonomic keyboards from Microsoft, the one I've used on Bestbuy over the years all feel amazing for my hands. If my Saitek Eclipse II decides to die I'll think I'll buy one of these next, these gaming keyboard are not very comfortable imo.
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