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.