By December 13, 2006

Microsoft Curve 2000 keyboard review

After computing for twenty three years it finally happened. I killed a keyboard by spilling something on it. The victim was my trusty Microsoft Elite keyboard, my companion in arms across three states, five residences, and a trip in the washing machine. RIP buddy.

I needed a replacement, but wanted to try something new. My vanity got in the way, and I wanted a black keyboard to match my black workstation, mouse, and monitor. I am on-key for twelve or more hours a day, so an ergonomic keyboard was required. Oh yeah, it had to be cheap. If the keyboard sucked, I didn’t want to be out $40+.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/1648-2/curve2000.jpg
Enter the Microsoft Curve 2000 keyboard. It fit my requirements — different, black, ergo, cheap. I bought it from NewEgg and it arrived a day early. I love those guys.

Unlike the Elite, the Curve 2000 is USB-only. I was pretty happy about this; I don’t have to worry about using an adaptor any more. I believe Lady Jaye’s newer Elite is USB only, but I’m too lazy to turn around in my chair and check.

One of the biggest differences between the Curve 2000 and my old Elite is that the Curve isn’t “split-key” like the Elite. All of the keys are lined up next to each other. They are curved slightly, as if the keyboard is smiling at you. I try to remember that my keyboard is happy, especially when I’m debugging JavaScript and want to kill someone. Due to the curvature, the keys are shaped differently. The “C” key is about half the width of the “H” key.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/1651-2/IMG_5737.JPG

This took some getting used to, more on that later. As you can see, the keys are also quite a bit more flat than the Elite. They are also quieter, and less springy to the touch. Other reviewers compared the Curve to a laptop keyboard; I agree. If you are a road warrior, then the Curve may be even more attractive to you.

The keyboard has some stupid multimedia keys, such as audio controls, and buttons for Web browsing (email, search, home, and back/forward). You can’t remap the applications associated with each key — so unfortunately the email button opens Outlook Express on my machine instead of Firefox with Gmail. I do use the small calculator key located above the 10-key pad.

The new keyboard has taken some getting used to. I don’t know if it’s the fault of the Curve 2000 itself, or using the Microsoft Natural series for almost a decade. After two weeks on the Curve 2000, I still have a hard time with the key positioning. I can’t describe it any other way than by saying they feel “off.” I am not accustomed to the way the number keys are laid out. I know, I know, they are more of a QWERTY “standard” because they are all grouped together, unlike the Natural/Elite series wherein the number keys are broken into two groups. The differently-sized keys shouldn’t be a problem as I’m a touch typist, but just knowing that they are different kind of creeps me out.

My biggest gripe about the keyboard is that the keys don’t seem as responsive or sensitive as my Elite. I have to exert more pressure to get keys to register, particularly on the bottom row (where the “b,” “n,” and “c” keys are). The keys are not as “fast” as the Elite, so sometimes I will type and the letters will register out of order. I’ve had a lot of trouble with the word “and” for this reason, because my fingers hit the “n” and “d” keys almost simultaneously. I type 90 – 100WPM with around 90%+ accuracy (at least, according to my last Typing of the Dead calculations). I’m not the fastest typist in the world, but I am fast enough to run into some problems with the Curve 2000. If you are a hunt and peck typist, this may not bother you at all.

Unlike the Elite, the Curve 2000 only pitches “up,” meaning that the number keys are elevated higher than the letter keys. This is horrible, horrible, horrible for ergonomics. The keyboard should pitch “down,” to follow the natural angles of your hands. Here, try it out: put your wrists flat on your desk and raise your fingers as high as they can go. Now wiggle your fingers for awhile like you’re typing. This puts a lot of pressure on your wrists and may lead to a repetitive stress injury. Now keep your fingertips flat on your desk and raise your wrists. Wiggle again. More comfortable, yeah? The Curve 2000 is set up like the former, the Elite like the latter. I may have to rig something to pitch my Curve 2000 correctly.

So, am I happy with the Curve 2000? For $20, I guess so. I really miss my Elite, but the Microsoft Natural Elite 4000 is the only black Natural available and it’s around $50. I think some improvements to the key response and keyboard pitch are necessary before I recommend the keyboard wholeheartedly. If you’re trying to save a little scratch or are interested in trying out something new, the Curve is for you. All in all I can’t complain too much, as the Curve did meet my requirements: different, black, ergo, and cheap. Oh, did I mention it was spill resistant? πŸ˜‰

Microsoft Curve 2000 keyboard, I type out
Three and a half out of five STFU mugs!
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Available from NewEgg.com and other fine retailers everywhere.

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6 Comments on "Microsoft Curve 2000 keyboard review"

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  1. Fred Hicks says:

    Curved ergo is where I live, so this is hugely useful, man. I think I’d be inclined to spring the $50 for the Elite 4000, based on this; I need assertive key response. Quiet, “soft” keyboards give me the heebies.

  2. “Curve 2000 is USB-only”

    ?

    I like the idea of the curve, but I have to exert more pressure to get keys to register, particularly on the bottom row (where the β€œb,” β€œn,” and β€œc” keys are). The keys are not as β€œfast” as the Elite, so sometimes I will type and the letters will register out of order.

    means it’s not for me.

    I really should try the ergonomic keyboard in my cupboard, but … it’s white! Doesn’t match my laptop or my workstation/monitor/Palm/headphones!

  3. Ed says:

    You should buy the $50 with a return guarantee, and see if it is worth the extra and review it!

  4. seeyo says:

    I have the Natural 4000 at home and at the office, and I can say that it doesn’t feel quite as right as the original elite I think we both have.

    It’s probably the best moderately priced option out there, but it does take some getting used to. I still don’t type as fast as I used to. Something about the key sizes throws me off.

    If you get nostalgic, you might want to try one of the buckling spring keyboards out there like the unicomp’s http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/en104wh.html there’s just something nice about that tactile response.

  5. drfaulken says:

    Configuratrix, what do you mean w/ the question mark? My PS/2 port is dead on two out of four of my machines. USB all the way, without the use of a goofy adapter, please.

  6. I forgot about the old-style mouse connectors.

    Sleepy Panda has a nice adapter for her wireless mouse, though.