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Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop review

Microsoft's new desktop kit that's comfortable to use, and Windows 8-friendly

Our Verdict

A solid, well-designed keyboard that can protect against RSI and is generally comfortable to use for long periods. It's just a shame about the mouse.

For

  • Solid build Batteries included One USB dongle for all Ergonomic design

Against

  • Expensive Mouse isn't great Windows 8-centric features might be alienating
Ratings in depth
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop

You might not think it, with Microsoft's focus on touch-screen controls with its Surface 2 tablet and Windows 8.1, and its love of voice and gesture controls in the Xbox One's Kinect 2 motion sensor, but the Redmond company still has a lot of time for traditional keyboard and mouse setups, and have long been the creators of some very decent desktop kits, of which the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop is the latest.

As well as having a fine pedigree in mice and keyboards – the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Keyboard and Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 being two highlights, Microsoft also has enviable experience in creating ergonomically designed devices, and its expertise is evident in the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop.

If the word 'Ergonomic' in the name wasn't enough of a clue as to Microsoft's ambitions with this keyboard and mouse set, then the distinctive design will probably clue you in. Named 'manta ray' by Microsoft, the keyboard is partially split just off the centre, with the keys curving towards the gap. The idea here is that the keys are positioned more naturally for where your fingers are, which means they don't have to stretch as much to hit the keys when typing – thereby lessening stress when using the keyboard for long periods of time. It could also – in time – make your typing faster. We say 'in time,' as when first using the keyboard the peculiar layout will probably slow your typing down, and temporarily increase errors if you're typing without looking at the keys.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
The distinctive 'manta ray' design

However, with a bit of perseverance, you'll soon begin to feel the benefit of using such a keyboard. The keyboard itself is stylishly designed and well built, with key presses feeling nice and firm, but without too much give – again to lessen strain on your fingers. The keys are also slightly larger than other keyboards to help improve accuracy. As the keys move towards the split they begin to angle slightly upwards towards the gap, which along with a padded wrist rest that runs along the bottom of the keyboard keeps your arms, wrist and hands in a natural and comfortable position while typing. The keyboard and wrist rest can both be altered slightly in height to make it even more comfortable.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
The numpad is a separate unit

As well as its distinctive split design, the keyboard's other eye-catching feature is that the numpad, a collection of numerical keys and functions that's often found on the far right-hand side of regular keyboards is completely separate. Looking sort of like a screen-less calculator, and powered by its own battery, the separate numpad is a canny design choice – if you use it often then you can position it for the most comfort, but if you rarely need it then it can be stored away to give you more space on the desk.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
The mouse is less successful

While the keyboard took a while to get used to, we could see the potential in it straight away, and appreciated the thought process and build quality of the device. The mouse that's included in the kit, on the other hand, is less successful. While it had a similar spherical design to Microsoft's older Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, it was quite a bit taller – again designed to promote a natural shape of your hand and wrist, with an indent to place your thumb, but we found the mouse to be slightly too large and ungainly for our tastes. A shame, considering the success of the keyboard.

Both the keyboard and mouse come with extra buttons for making Windows 8 more usable in a traditional desktop setup. On the mouse this is an easily reachable extra button that brings up the Start screen. On the keyboard a number of the keys let you bring up the Windows Charms bar, and the various options that you can choose. If you use Windows 8 a lot, then you'll find these keys very useful. The keyboard is also compatible with older versions of Windows, along with Macs, though of course the Windows 8-specific keys are made rather redundant. All three components of the set (keyboard, numpad and mouse) connect to the PC via one USB dongle, which keeps your other ports free.

Verdict

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop is a good example of what Microsoft does best. It has a solid and dependable build quality, and a stylish design that draws on Microsoft's experience in creating peripherals. The ergonomic considerations that have gone into this desktop set are evident, and only possible from a company that has spent a lot of time studying that particular area. The Windows 8 buttons might seem like a desperate attempt to make the much-derided operating system still seem relevant, but if you are running Windows 8 you'll find a few of the buttons quite useful.

We liked

The 'manta ray' design of the keyboard might put you off at first, but its careful design makes working on it for long periods of time comfortable. The build quality of the whole kit in general is also very good, and it also has a stylish design. The fact that the set comes with all the necessary batteries included is a nice bonus, and using one USB dongle for everything is another plus.

We disliked

The keyboard grew on us the longer we used it, but we were less impressed with the mouse, which felt a bit too large to be comfortable. The price of the set is also quite high, though you do get excellent build quality and ergonomic design for your money.

Final verdict

If you spend a lot of time typing, and often feel the effects of repetitive strain injury, then the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop really could be a huge benefit to you. While the keyboard might seem intimidating at first, after a while it feels completely natural – and if it saves you from being injured then it's worth every penny in our book.

Tech Specs

Product TypeKeyboard/Keypad & Mouse
Keyboard/Keypad Host InterfaceUSB 2.0
Pointing Device Host InterfaceUSB 2.0
Brand NameMicrosoft
Pointing Device Connectivity TechnologyWireless
Pointing Device Wireless TechnologyRF
Keyboard/Keypad Connectivity TechnologyWireless
Keyboard/Keypad Wireless TechnologyRF
Movement DetectionBlueTrack
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH, RoHS, WEEE
Number of Total Buttons7
Scroller TypeTilt Wheel
Keyboard/Keypad Height59 mm
Keyboard/Keypad Width392 mm
Keyboard/Keypad Depth228 mm
Pointing Device Height56.70 mm
Pointing Device Width74.90 mm
Pointing Device Depth98.20 mm
Keyboard/Keypad Weight (Approximate)842 g
Pointing Device Weight (Approximate)155 g
Country of OriginChina
Keyboard/Keypad TypeKeyboard/Keypad
ManufacturerMicrosoft Corporation
Product NameSculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Pointing Device TypeMouse
Product LineSculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Manufacturer Part NumberL5V-00006
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.microsoft.co.uk
Marketing Information

Advanced ergonomic design

Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop is built on advanced ergonomic principles, with a split keyboard layout that keeps wrists and forearms in a relaxed position, and a cushioned palm rest to provide wrist support. The domed keyboard shape works to reduce and correct wrist pronation that can cause pain and limited mobility.

True comfort for lasting productivity

Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop is designed for productivity, with an eye on ergonomic excellence. By providing a relaxed, comfortable computing experience, it enables you to work without the stress, strain, and discomfort of other keyboards and mice you may have used in the past.

It's all in the angles

The natural arc keyboard layout follows the curve of your fingertips for a more natural way of typing. Reverse tilt design positions the keyboard at the correct angle to give you a straight, neutral wrist position. Additionally, the shape of the mouse is designed for maximum wrist comfort. Plus its Windows button provides one-touch access to the Windows 8 Start screen.

Movement Resolution1000 dpi
Package Contents
  • Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
  • USB Receiver
  • 2 x AAA Alkaline Batteries (Keyboard)
  • 2 x AA Alkaline Batteries (Mouse)
  • 1 x Lithium Battery CR2430 (Keypad)