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Product: Natural MultiMedia & MultiMedia Keyboards
Company: Microsoft
Estimated Street Price:
Review By: Robert Stein

Sticking to the hip color scheme which debuted in the Optical Mouse Blue, Microsoft has released two complementary products designed to add flair to the desktop and to bring innovative features to consumers. As shown by their names, the Microsoft MultiMedia and Natural MultiMedia keyboards have convenient, yet functional, features for multimedia savvy users. Do the Microsoft MultiMedia keyboards live up to its promises? Read on to find out.

  • Multimedia Center - Just press a button to start your favorite media programs, navigate music and video clips, or pump up the volume. It's the easiest way to enjoy your multimedia experience.
  • Enhanced F Keys - Experience a faster way to perform common tasks. Just press a key to open, close, save, and print documents, send and forward e-mails, and more.
  • F Key Lock - Switch between standard and enhanced function key commands, giving you more flexibility.
  • Hot Keys - With the press of a button, you get instant access to Messenger, Mail, Internet, and Calculator commands. Hot Keys for My Documents, My Pictures, and My Music put the files you use most within easy reach.

Setup & Installation 

As with most other Microsoft hardware devices, the setup of either Microsoft MultiMedia keyboards is a breeze. Just plug the PS/2 connector into the proper port and you are all set to begin. Note: this keyboard does not use a USB connection. These keyboards are not Macintosh compatible.

Microsoft IntelliType 2.2 Software

If you would like to adjust your keyboard settings, i.e. reprogram its hotkeys, then you’ll want to install Microsoft IntelliType Pro 2.2 software. Installation of the IntelliType Pro 2.2 software (although not needed) is a breeze. Just pop in the CD included or download the software (about 10 MB) from Microsoft’s website. After a restart, the setup asks which keyboard you are using and thus finalizes the installation. A “quick start guide” is displayed which walks you through the keyboard highlights, help resources, healthy computing guide, etc.  

To customize your keys, select either “Keyboard” from the Control Panel or “Microsoft Keyboard” from the Program menu. On the Key Settings tab, you’ll see a list of thirty hot key defaults, which you can reprogram if you like. Another nice feature is you can print out a list of the key assignments, which is good for those who like to reprogram a significant amount of keys. From here you can edit your key assignments from a list of fifty-five available commands. Options include disabling, programming to open a webpage or file, and reprogramming to fit Microsoft’s available commands. Some keys, however, such as the Caps Lock, you can only disable the key, not reprogram it.


As stated earlier, the Microsoft MultiMedia keyboards are designed to complement the Optical Mouse Blue (at least to the extent of the same aesthetically looking Astral blue finish). Only a few differences exist between the Natural MultiMedia and MultiMedia keyboards. The Microsoft Natural MultiMedia keyboard has Microsoft’s distinct, ergonomic shape which large quantities of consumers enjoy in addition to an integrated palm rest. For those who do not, however, the Multimedia keyboard has a traditional flat design and also includes a detachable palm rest. Both keyboards weigh in a just under 2 pounds with a length of about 12 inches and a width of 6 inches. The keyboards are raised slightly at the top end to give easier access to the main hotkeys.

The Multimedia center at the top center of the keyboard gives one-touch access to frequently used multimedia commands; play, pause, stop, mute and more are all included. All of these commands, of course, can be reprogrammed using the IntelliType Pro software. In addition, you have access to twelve other hotkeys (on the function keys), when the Function light is turned off. When the F Lock light is on, the keys turn back into regular function keys. Finally, the keyboard lights (Caps Lock, etc.) are a little bigger and better looking than normal.

Final Comments

How They Grade

Installation: 88%
Performance: 92%
Design: 90%
Price/Value: 85%
Overall: 88.75%

These keyboards are perfect for those who like a ton of customizable hotkeys and/or use multimedia functions extensively. The keyboards feature an aesthetically appealing and functional design which is useful to users. In addition, consumers can choose between their favorites: either the traditional flat or Natural ergonomic designs. The traditional flat keyboard is competitively priced as compared to the Internet Keyboard and Office keyboards; the Natural Multimedia keyboard is about 28% more expensive than the Natural Keyboard Elite, then again you aren’t getting the same features to compare. As far as the competition goes, the Logitech Elite keyboard has a black design and some multimedia features, but it is about as expensive as the Natural Multimedia model and doesn’t have the Natural design.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 88.75%
Version Reviewed Multimedia/Natural MultiMedia Keyboards
Release Date Out Now
The Good Points Tons of Hotkeys
Nice Color
Nice Lights
The Bad Points No USB Connector
Similar Product Logitech Elite Keyboard
System Requirements Windows 98, Me, NT 4 SP6, 2000, XP
35 MB of Disk Space
32 up to 128 MB of RAM



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