Well-designed and -made ergonomic wireless peripherals with dedicated Windows controls. Take a look at the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop (full review here).
A wireless mouse and keyboard combo, there are three pieces to the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop keyboard and mouse. You get the main keyboard, the mouse, and a secondary numerical keypad. There's also the USB-connected transceiver, aka the wireless dongle.
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop review: design and build
Shiny black plastic combines with matt black plastic to make a stylish, understated kit. Detailing is mostly white with the occasional patch of Windows 8 blue.
The main keyboard is a sight to behold. As with many ergonomic keyboards it is in essence a game of two halves. 'Qwert' lives on one side of an hour-glass shaped divide, 'yuiop' on the other.
It's as if a standard keyboard was melted down and draped across a towel rail. Microsoft refers to it as a 'domed' design.
A magnetic stand fixes to the underside of the keyboard, raising it up toward the typist, as if you were typing on the raised rear bumper of a sports car. It connects magnetically. This stand supports the cushioned wrist rest, a generously proportioned area covered in smooth black foam. On the underside is also a flip-out door that hosts the batteries – two AAAs.
The keys themselves are of the scrabble-tile variety. And there's the seperate numeric keypad.
Keyboard dimensions: 392 x 228 x 59 mm and 836 g
The mouse is a squat circular beast, like a block of mozzarella. Left- and right-click buttons up top are shiny black. A scroll wheel is set into the middle of those and a bright blue Windows button sits where your thumb rests – if you are a right-handed mouser.
Mouse dimensions 749 x 982 x 567 mm and 155 g
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop review: in use, benefits
Although very different to use, it doesn't take long to get to grips with the Sculpt keyboard and mouse. And the benefits are plain: an ergonomically designed keyboard should keep your hands and arms in a relaxed position as you type. This should reduce 'pronation' – unnatural twisting of your wrists so that they face directly downwards for lengthy periods.
This in turn can prevent long-term problems such as carpal-tunnel syndrome.
An ergonomic keyboard truly helps only as part of an ergonomic setup. In my case the weirdness of the keyboard forced me out of my normal hunched up position, making me address my keyboard straight on.
Keys are different shapes and sizes to make them as easy to find as possible. After a relatively short period we found typing without looking was virtually error free. The keys themselves have a satisfying level of travel, and they spring back against your digits.
The big round shape of the Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse also takes some time to feel natural. It fits right into the palm of your hand, unlike a typical computer mouse with which you would rest your wrist flat to the desk. The position of the buttons and the scroll wheel felt natural pretty much straight away, and when using Windows 8 in particular the addition of a Windows button (against which your thumb naturally sits) is a good one.
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop review: verdict
Well-designed and -made ergonomic wireless peripherals with dedicated Windows controls. And although far from cheap they offer a good feature set at a decent price. The mouse didn't work brilliantly in our tests, but that may be an issue with Bluetooth interference, and we love the keyboard. Definitely worth considering if you require ergonomic peripherals. See all mice and keyboard reviews.