Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 5000

Finally having built a (just-about) usable PC for the first time in years, I’m considering performing an equally radical upgrade to my input peripherals: Lacking the desk space for a Wacom Intuos3 A5 Wide tablet, I’m looking for a new keyboard and mouse to replace my existing Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro and Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer.

Microsoft has since removed all trace of the Explorer from it’s website (my model pre-dates the Explorer 3.0, and has two buttons under the thumb position. Unfortunately, the rubber on the central scroll-wheel has degraded and starting to go sticky 🙁 ), and the (otherwise excellent) keyboard is at times a little difficult to type on with keys taking too much effort to depress – although this may be simply due to not having been used for a couple of years, and does seem to be slowly improving with use.

I was first looking at the Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 6000 – the case is a little large and many of the buttons are superfluous on the Mac or Linux, but Microsoft’s keyboards (built by Logitech) are very high quality, and the current generation are actually better than Logitech’s own, which can look quite cheap have a fairly unpleasant font laser-etched into them. Decision made, and all is fine… until I see the UK layout, which I can’t find pictured anywhere on the web. For good reason.

The left-shift key is absolutely tiny. It’s so small, it rivals some of the smaller keys on Asus’ eeePC keyboard! You only need look at the comments on to see how much pain this is causing. In addition, the unusual horizontal offset of the different rows of keys (which seems more pronounced on the UK version) makes touch-typing literally hit-and-miss.

In summary, whilst the US edition of this keyboard appears well-proportioned and of high quality, the UK localisation seems to have been performed without any regard for the poor person who will be forced to use it. Given that this is not by any means a cheap option and that nowhere (on sites selling the board or even on the product’s own packaging) shows the actual design, it seems all too easy to be lumbered with a product which is, to all intents and purposes, not really fit for purpose.

Perhaps I need to look at the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 keyboard, although my recollection from seeing this in the flesh was that the central zoom control was damned ugly. Also, the 4000 appears to be wired, and the wireless option is only available as the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000 with an inferior* bundled mouse.

* to the Logitech MX Revolution, to be discussed soon when I look at the other side of the keyboard/mouse conundrum.