CNET First Look
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic DesktopIt may take some time to adjust to the keys, but your fingers will thank you for investing in this ergonomic desktop combo.
So, it used to be that only secretaries and IT pros got carpal tunnel syndrome. Well, fast-forward a few decades, and now, it seems like everyone is on track to get some kind of repetitive stress injury. And if you're shopping for a keyboard and mouse set to ease your pain, Microsoft actually has a pretty good contender. I'm Justin Yu for CNET. This is your first look at the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop. This keyboard-and-mouse combo removes all the nonessential parts and they give you only what you need to type and click in a comfortable position that really takes the stress off your wrists. So, this is the keyboard here. It's flat on all sides and it gradually rises in the center which forces your hands into a more natural typing position that you may be currently used to with your keyboard. It also has a separate number pad here which makes the keyboard a lot smaller. Without it, in fact, it measures a little bit more than 15 inches across. Now, typing on the keyboard is really easy. Your wrists find more relief on the soft padded rest down below and the option to use this removable riser bar on the bottom that actually pushes your hands up even further. So, this is also pretty clever. Microsoft actually puts magnets on all the compartments including the riser bar and the battery door which makes them really easy to put on and off again. You probably need a little bit of time to adjust to the new layout of the ergonomic keyboard, though. The cutout in the center separates your hands a little bit more, and since it's setup for use with Windows 7 and 8, you'll find a Windows Metro button next to the spacebar instead of the start key. You also get a setup of shortcut buttons on top on the F-keys, but instead of an Fn button on the bottom like we're used to, Microsoft makes you alternate using an Fn switch instead. Again, it will take a week or so to get used to. So, now, onto the mouse. This one is a new shape for the company and it's circular rather than oval. In terms of size, it sort of feels like an oblong baseball in your hand with a cutout on the left side that acts as a thumb rest. Your hands should feel natural when you place them on the mouse, though I wouldn't have minded some extra grooves for your index and ring fingers to rest. Now, the biggest gripe I have with the mouse is that the top layer is covered with a shiny plastic that's really susceptible to fingerprints. Also, the top tends to get a little sticky which may be a problem for users that tend to have sweaty palms. Now, that is kind of gross, but it's something you should think about before you buy. You get the standard left and right clickers on the mouse as well as a notched scroll dial and a shortcut button that automatically fires up the Windows 8 start menu. There's also a button on the left-hand side for your thumb that takes you back a page in your browser, though I do wish that they were a little bit easier to press and neither the keyboard nor the mouse have rechargeable batteries, so you'll have to keep a stock of AA and AAAs around the house to replace them. At 130 bucks for the set, I definitely would have liked to see some backlit keys and maybe some rechargeable batteries, but aside from that, this combo definitely accomplishes its goal to alleviate pressure off your wrists and get you used to a more natural typing and mousing position. You can check out more details in my full review on CNET, but that's gonna do it for me. I'm Justin Yu. You just took a first look at the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop. Thanks for watching.