Review

Review: Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Keyboard

Microsoft has put out quite a few peripherals for Windows 8 over the past few weeks. While the Sculpt Comfort keyboard is not as visually striking as say the Wedge keyboard, for those who desire an ergonomic layout, Microsoft has always been a top competitor in this market.

The Sculpt Comfort keyboard is a full size, desktop keyboard. The center arch and key layout is designed for ergonomics first, visual second. That's not to say that the keyboard is ugly, but this is for all day desktop warriors who want to keep their wrist happy. 

The keyboard address all of the basics with a detachable wrist pad, fins that pop out to angle the keyboard, rubber feet to reduce vibration and your standard QWERTY layout with number pad. The keyboard will retail for $59.99.

The keyboard is made of a black plastic and if you have used other Microsoft keyboards, the materials feel nearly identical to other Microsoft keyboards that have hit the market. The keyboard is all plastic too, there is no metal present (well, maybe on the screws/circuitry).

There are several notable features that separate this keyboard from other Microsoft products and existing products on store shelves. The split spacebar, Windows 8 shortcut keys, hard F-lock switch, and of course, the ergonomic layout.

The split space bar is unique for, obviously, being split but it also works as a shortcut key. Right now, when you need to hit the backspace, it's a long travel distance for your pinky, Microsoft solved this with the split spacebar that makes the left side of the bar activate the backspace action. It's a simple shortuct but once you are used to it, it's a feature you lust for on every keyboard.

The Windows 8 shortcut keys are a welcomed addition that include play/pause, Volume Up/Down, mute, search, share, charms menu, settings, app switch, app bar, and a few others. There is also a hard lock switch to toggle between F keys and shortcut keys. The shortcut keys work well for their intended purpose but much like the Wedge Keyboard, we would love to see a fwd/back music button option along with play/pause to make it easier to skip songs with Spotify running in the background.

The ergonomic layout takes some time to adjust too from a standard flat keyboard. For those that transition from previous Microsoft ergonomic keyboards, you will have no issues with the switch. It only took a few minutes for those coming from a flat keyboard to make solid progress on keystroke accuracy on the Sculpt keyboard (we let two individuals test the keyboard to see how long it took them to transition to the new layout.) 

The arch design is supportive and the keys are spaced appropriately for your fingers. Your wrist position, with the pad attached, feels natural and not obtrusive by being positioned at an odd angle like we have experienced on previous keyboards.

The concave key design keeps your fingers firmly in place when typing and the travel stroke of the keys is comparable to previous Microsoft comfort keyboards. The spacebar does seem to travel longer than the other keys, this could be placebo or the fact that the key is larger and visually it appears to travel further, but is not an inhabiting distance by any means.

The shortcut keys are quite firm to initiate given their size and reach from the home row but will likely break in over time. Again, not a major issue, but something to take note of.

The Sculpt Comfort keyboard is a Windows 8 ready peripheral that is a delight to use, there is no other way to say it. Despite some small keystroke and firmness qualms that are minuscule in the grand picture, we highly recommend this keyboard. If you are moving to Windows 8 and need a new ergonomic keyboard, look no further, your keyboard has arrived.

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21 Comments

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Majesticmerc said,
As someone who exclusively uses his left thumb to hit the space bar, I can't ever see myself being able to use this keyboard

I'm fairly certain that you can remap the keys in the software.

roadwarrior said,

I'm fairly certain that you can remap the keys in the software.

In fact, you can - this has been supported in IntelliType since 7.x.

The successor (Hardware and Device Center) is a superset of IntelliType and IntelliPoint, and supports both sets of features.

Split space bars are not unique they have been around for ages, the uniqueness is by adding the back space option on to the space bar. Which would be a shock to use as its moving the backspace from its "traditional" location but without using one I'm guessing it probably becomes quite natural after a while once you break the habit of using the existing backspace key in the position you would expect to find it

I like my Comfort Curve 3000 keyboard.... Types nice and it's really small and sleek. I use it on a KB drawer and I got lots of room left.

Microsoft keyboard are my favorites, but I'm not sure it deserve a review.
Except a few tweaks and better compatibility with windows 8, there's not much things to say about this model. Frankly at 59$ I don' care.

Don't get the pricing on this one. No one is going to pick this over the 4000 and it looks only marginally better than the current $15 ComfortCurve.

I posted this in the other thread, but I realized it belongs here because there are more pictures.

I see big problems with this keyboard, just looking at the pictures.

On the sculpt keydoard, do you see how the Z-key is aligned with ALT? On your keyboard (and the other keyboards in the picture), this key will be 3/4 - 1 key width closer to CTRL. Since Z, X, C, V are moved away from Ctrl, the Ctrl+Key shortcuts can strain the hand.

Now look at the W key. See how it's mostly over the A? This makes holding the WASD position very uncomfortable because your ring finger blocks your middle finger. On your keyboard, the W key is mostly over the S and this works well.

I do not know why they've laid the keys out so badly.

a1ien said,
I posted this in the other thread, but I realized it belongs here because there are more pictures.

I see big problems with this keyboard, just looking at the pictures.

On the sculpt keydoard, do you see how the Z-key is aligned with ALT? On your keyboard (and the other keyboards in the picture), this key will be 3/4 - 1 key width closer to CTRL. Since Z, X, C, V are moved away from Ctrl, the Ctrl+Key shortcuts can strain the hand.

Now look at the W key. See how it's mostly over the A? This makes holding the WASD position very uncomfortable because your ring finger blocks your middle finger. On your keyboard, the W key is mostly over the S and this works well.

I do not know why they've laid the keys out so badly.


I see no reason as to why anyone would be needing to hold the WASD position on this keyboard. That only applies to a keyboard that people would game on, nobody will game with this. With the size of this keyboard, there will be very little effort needed to make the ctrl+key shortcuts. Microsoft has given consumers a number of options with keyboards, what doesn't work for you, may work very well for another. I personally won't be buying this one as it doesn't fit my needs, but someone will be happy with it, and that is all that matters.

Shadier said,

I see no reason as to why anyone would be needing to hold the WASD position on this keyboard. That only applies to a keyboard that people would game on, nobody will game with this.

Not everyone that plays games occaisionally buys a 'gamer' keyboard. I play the occaisional game with WASD controls and I use a Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000, which does put the W key right above the S key.

It's definitely something worth pointing out.

Stetson said,

Not everyone that plays games occaisionally buys a 'gamer' keyboard.

True, hell I play with my Model M...

a1ien said,
I posted this in the other thread, but I realized it belongs here because there are more pictures.

I see big problems with this keyboard, just looking at the pictures.

On the sculpt keydoard, do you see how the Z-key is aligned with ALT? On your keyboard (and the other keyboards in the picture), this key will be 3/4 - 1 key width closer to CTRL. Since Z, X, C, V are moved away from Ctrl, the Ctrl+Key shortcuts can strain the hand.

Now look at the W key. See how it's mostly over the A? This makes holding the WASD position very uncomfortable because your ring finger blocks your middle finger. On your keyboard, the W key is mostly over the S and this works well.

I do not know why they've laid the keys out so badly.

A gamer after an ergonomic keyboard for let's say, ergonomics, probably won't use wasd and will remap to other keys.

Shadier said,

I see no reason as to why anyone would be needing to hold the WASD position on this keyboard. That only applies to a keyboard that people would game on, nobody will game with this. With the size of this keyboard, there will be very little effort needed to make the ctrl+key shortcuts. Microsoft has given consumers a number of options with keyboards, what doesn't work for you, may work very well for another. I personally won't be buying this one as it doesn't fit my needs, but someone will be happy with it, and that is all that matters.

The WASD layout is identical to the Wireless 6000 V.3 - which is my all-around (including gaming) keyboard - it's even the same price. Further, I don't remap for games that use the WASD layout (such as Black Mesa and DCUO). So I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand, even for gaming.

a1ien said,
I posted this in the other thread, but I realized it belongs here because there are more pictures.

I see big problems with this keyboard, just looking at the pictures.

[...]
I do not know why they've laid the keys out so badly.

Agreed, like Logitech they seem to want to part from a normal layout without thinking about the consequences.

That and this ridiculous split spacebar, is that for people who make so many mistakes they need a shortcut? Come on MS, you used to do better than that.

It's so hard to find a good keyboard those days.