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Microsoft’s new Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard is as smooth as a manta ray’s bottom

There’s no mistaking Microsoft’s new keyboard and mouse combo for being the ho-hum set that comes packaged with your desktop PC. The Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop Keyboard and Mouse have a look of their own. 

The company’s new peripherals weren’t just designed to look cool (which the keyboard certainly does, thanks to its manta ray-like shape), they were built with the well-being of our hands and posture in mind. According to Microsoft’s Healthy Computing Survey, 85 percent of the people surveyed from around the world said they experience discomfort on a daily basis while sitting in front of the computer. Part of the company’s “Natural” line of ergonomic products, a series that’s been around since 1994, the keyboard has a split layout, which isn’t anything totally new to the world of keyboards, but is certainly not something you see in traditional ones.

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According to a post on the Windows Experience Blog by Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc, the “split keyboard layout is designed to help position the wrists and forearms in a natural, relaxed position.” The bottom of the keyboard is slightly padded, so your wrists don’t have to rest on a hard desktop all day. Microsoft told us the material used in the padding is actually similar to the one used in the covers for the Surface tablet. The domed shape of the keyboard is supposed to “promote a straight, neutral wrist position,” according to Microsoft. 

A number pad has also been included, yet it’s completely separate from the keyboard. Not everyone needs a numpad at all times, and when you don’t need it, you can simply move the pad away. 

The complementing Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse is designed to “encourage natural postures.” The mouse is rather large and tall, but its height supposedly helps minimize carpal tunnel pressure by reducing the contact your hands have with your desk. For all you Windows 8 users, you’ll be happy to know that Microsoft added a dedicated Windows button, which will make accessing the Windows 8 Start screen that much easier. It also has a back button, a four-way scroll wheel, and a thumb rest to help with keeping up the proper ergonomic position. 

You’ll need Windows 8, Windows RT, or Windows 7 (or a Mac) to use the Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop package, which will be available later this month for $130. If you want just the keyboard, it’ll cost you $81, and the mouse will sell separately for $60.  

Stay tuned for our full review.

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