Hardware affection (not quite love)...and a web service too

I'm one of those touch typists (80wpm adjusting for errors: Thank you, junior high school) who loves the Microsoft Natural Keyboard, and will swear that it's saved me from RSI. I've used the same one at home for maybe five years now (I'm not sure how long); it's a little grungy, but what the hey. And my "new" (now 38 month old) home PC came with a Logitech-built optical mouse, back when that was still a $20 upgrade, and of course I've loved that. Even if the mouse wire can be somewhat of a hassle.

I looked at wireless keyboards and mice, if only to cut back on the rat's nest of wires. With my sleek new Sony LCD display (good industrial design is always a pleasure, particularly when combined with first-rate engineering), cleaning up the desk seems even more worthwhile.

But the mice were expensive on their own--and the mouse/keyboard wireless combos, relatively economical by comparison, had one fatal drawback. There's no way I'd go back to a standard keyboard unless a very sizable bribe was involved. Very sizable.

Times change, and special situations provide special incentives. Thanks to a recent visit to Redmond, I'm typing this on a sleek black Microsoft Natural Multimedia keyboard, black and silver to match my old/new Gateway and the Sony, and wireless. It's the newer "elite" Natural, a little narrower than the original. And moving the cursor with a Wireless IntelliMouse, which seemed like it might be blocky (it's taller than my old mouse) but turns out to be a perfect hand-fit. The two extra buttons are OK too (well, three if you include the scroll wheel); I kept the "magnify" feature assigned by default to one (a fairly slick 5x-magnification window I didn't know Windows XP had),and assigned double-click to one that's hard to hit accidentally.

Then there's the scroll wheel itself. I don't use scrolling that much, partly because the wheels have been a little clunky. This one is...smooth is the word that comes to mind. I can see using it a lot more. As an extra whistle, it's a sideways wheel as well, for apps where that makes sense: you can noodge the wheel left or right.

Color me happy. As to the web service? See my W.a.r. post about Pandora. This just might sucker me into listening to more music and a broader range of music. Which might or might not be a good thing.


I'm a touch typist as well (closer to 70 wpm--thank you community college!) and about 3 years ago, I got one of the Microsoft Natural keyboards at work. I don't have one at home, although I'd like one. The one at work, I was told, cost about $80. I really should look into getting one for home, I find it much easier to use. It's funny, the kids at work are sometimes amazed at how fast I can "write" on the computer. *LOL* They're more amazed when I tell them I don't even have to look at the keyboard.There was a bit of a learning curve when I first got it. Obviously, as a touch typist, I don't have to look at the keyboard. When I first got the ergonomic one, I COULDN'T look at it--I'd lose my ability to type. It was like my fingers knew what to do, but seeing how my hands were positioned, my brain was saying "No way you can type like that on that thing your hands are too far apart!" After a couple days, I was fine. No confusion now...well no more than usual. I even got used to the difference in that group of six keys above the arrow keys.And the scroll wheel on my mouse? I go batty when I have to use a mouse that doesn't have one now, which is often whenever using the comps in the lab at work. I got my first wheelie-mouse (ah, yes, I use such precise, techie terms) back when my mouse was non-optical (or had a ball, if you will). If I'm using a non-wheelie mouse I find myself rubbing my finger where the wheel should be. (Of course, I also have a tendency, on those rare occasions when I have to use them, of trying to right click on an iMac mouse. *sigh*) I'd rather keep my normal keyboard at home than give up my wheelie mouse!I really should check out the cost...how much was the black one you were looking at? (Um, if you don't mind me asking.)s/

I'm guessing that's the reason that non-touch-typists almost universally find they can't use the Natural at all: Because you can't look at it and work effectively.

It's not the black one I was looking at: it's the black (and silver) one I'm now using. I got mine as one of the optional perks for being at an MSN event. Checking Office Depot and Microsoft, it looks as though the list for a regular (wired) black Natural Elite keyboard is $60, and the list for what I believe to be the same as I got--a wireless Natural Elite (with extra multimedia keys) with wireless optical mouse--is $99.95. There may be a rebate on the wired keyboard. I believe I've seen it as low as $45, but could be mistaken.

You're really unusual, though, if you can touch type on both a Natural and a regular keyboard. I can do maybe 10-20 words a minute on a regular keyboard these days, with loads of errors...

Yeah, Tech Guy hates working on my comp because he isn't a touch typist.

Thanks for the keyboard info. I checked Staples on-line (as business depot is called in Canada) and they have the corded, black/silver MS Natural for about $80; they don't show a wireless version online yet. So, I'll just have to wait a while to get a new keyboard and/or keep a look out in the flyers for something coming on special. Black and silver would actually go well with my new (6 months old) home comp.

You're really unusual, though, if you can touch type on both a Natural and a regular keyboard. I can do maybe 10-20 words a minute on a regular keyboard these days, with loads of errors...

Well, it's probably the fact that I actually do more typing on my home comp, which has the regular keyboard, than I do at work. At home, I'm on the net quite a bit (which includes msn and chat rooms) and I write fanfic--which requires a lot of typing. I've also noticed I tend to angle my hands, instead of turning my wrists in like many typists do, when on a regular keyboard. I imagine if I was using exclusively Natural keyboards, then I probably wouldn't do as well with the regular ones.

I always tell people that keyboarding was one of the more valuable skills I've picked up along the way.


Hmm. Looks like Staples is nicking you for an extra $9 or $10 US-equivalent as compared to US prices. (Staples is also in the U.S., one of the three major office-supply chains besides Office Depot and OfficeMax.) The $100 price was direct from Microsoft: Office Depot doesn't seem to have that one yet.

You might try one of the online shopping services that serves Canada, e.g. Shop.com (although I know nothing about them; they seem to show the wireless natural pro set for $70 US).