Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000 review
Avoid strained hands and fingers during long typing sessions by investing in a full-size keyboard
Review Date: 18 Aug 2006
Price when reviewed: (£12 inc VAT)
The majority of the notebooks on test this month have keyboards with full-sized keys; that is, the same size as a standard PC keyboard. But if you plan on typing long documents on your notebook, you'll benefit from a separate, ergonomic keyboard that won't strain your wrists and fingers. We've rounded up a selection of USB keyboards that you can use with any notebook, and potentially even carry around in your laptop case if there's room.
The Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000 claims to be the most ergonomic design here, with a curved keyboard layout for a more comfortable hand position. It's actually curved both horizontally and vertically, with the middle rows of keys being slightly recessed into the keyboard. In practice, the Comfort Curve takes some getting used to. We certainly couldn't touch type straight away and kept hitting the "#" key instead of Return. But we appreciated the standard key layout (no rearranged Delete/Home/Insert keys) and the extra multimedia shortcut keys, plus a Calculator button just above the number pad.
No software is needed for the extra buttons, and the keyboard is spill resistant too. At 480mm wide, it isn't the most compact, but the main problem is the Logitech, which adds more features for the same price.
Strictly speaking, the Saitek Backlit Gaming Keyboard is just that - a gaming keyboard. But we've considered it worthy of inclusion here because of its sheer quality and comfort. It might be by far the most expensive at £26, and the heftiest at 1.4kg, but it's worth it if your budget permits.
Even if you don't like the odd shape, you'll appreciate the standard layout. Plus, every key has just the right spring tension - neither too hard or soft. The rubber feet keep the keyboard firmly in place, even when you use the rear feet to raise it up. The clip-on wristrest simply adds to the comfort - it has three positions to suit the size of your hands.
You can choose to turn off the backlit keys if you don't like the blue glow - this extends to the bundled backlit Command Pad, which is a programmable pad for games (software is included on CD). However, unless you demand ultimate comfort regardless of price, others here are better value.
For those who want to take their keyboard with them, the Targus Compact Keyboard AKB05UK is the smallest on test at 358mm wide. It still has full-sized keys, though, so it's handy for those whose notebook has tiny keys. The layout is as good as we could hope for, with Ctrl in the bottom corner and a double-height Return key. Targus has even found room for email and web browser buttons. Touch-typing is no problem and, for £9, anyone wanting a portable keyboard to fit in their carry case should opt for the AKB05UK, especially as it weighs just 450g.
The Genius KB-06x Black USB, meanwhile, is perfect for those on a tight budget. It's a snip at £5, yet weighs only 550g and is 445mm wide, so is portable. It boasts the same standard layout as the Saitek, along with three extra keys for power, sleep and wake. As they're just above the arrow keys, you have to be careful not to press them accidentally. Despite the light weight, the Genius is well built and a bargain.
If you can stretch to £10, though, the Logitech Media Keyboard Elite is our pick of the bunch. It's solidly built and - with the wristrest attached - very comfortable to type on. Unlike some of Logitech's older models, keys no longer stick: they rival the precision of the Saitek. There are a couple of slight layout changes - the Insert key is moved and replaced by a double-height Delete key, but it's easy to get used to. There are a plethora of other keys for media control, web browsing and a handy zoom control, with a useful extra button for zooming to 100%.
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