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Product: Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com/hardware
Estimated Street Price: $74.95
Review By: C. Scot Giles

The Features

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Part 2 & Conclusion

I had been looking forward to the appearance of the new Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro for some time. I had used the first version of the "split" Natural Keyboard for years and loved the comfort it gave me during my long hours of keyboard use. Because of my example, my wife had adopted the smaller and newer Natural Keyboard Elite for her computer, and after a few days had announced she couldn't imagine ever going back to a traditional keyboard. As I am the legislation officer for my professional association, I spend long hours on line connected to governmental websites. The new keyboard from Microsoft promised dedicated keys to control email and web browsing, and I knew they would save me time.

After using the new keyboard for a few days, I find I am very pleased with it. The footprint is about the same as the original Natural keyboard. The width is identical and it's about an inch shorter. This still makes it more bulky than the Natural Keyboard Elite, but I had always preferred the larger format, finding that it makes using the cursor keys easier. The keyboard also has a slightly different feel to it. The keys are not as soft to the touch as the old keys were, and the arch of the keyboard is higher, as is the wrist rest. This is a plus, as the old keyboard allowed one to cheat a bit on hand placement, and that could lead to wrist problems.

Another difference is that several of the keys carry a secondary label on their front side, reminding you of common Windows keyboard shortcuts, such as "Control S" for Save.

The keyboard uses two connections to attach to your computer. One goes into the traditional PS2 keyboard connector that is standard on personal computers. The other connector attaches to a Universal Serial Port (USB), if your computer has one. You don't need to use the USB connector if you don't want to, but one of the nice features of this keyboard is that it has two USB connectors built into it that allow you to daisy-chain other USB devices. I currently have my USB Zip drive connected to one of the ports in the keyboard and it works fine. The documentation states that if your computer's BIOS supports a USB keyboard, you can actually connect only through the USB port.

 

Part 2 & Conclusion -->

 

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