geekhack Community > Keyboards

Finally scored a NEW original MS Natural

(1/2) > >>

Whiskey in the Jar-o:
Sealed in a retail box, "ready for Win 95".  The only thing that made me doubt its newness were the somewhat yellowed white rubber feet.  Though that could be due to the age of the thing.  Got it for only $24 plus shipping.  

The good:
* It's basically a full-size Natural Elite without the mangled navigation and cursor keys.  All the keys are full size.
* Excellent build quality.  The case is very stiff and robust just like the Elite.  The print on the keycaps is much better than the Elite.  Though just like on the Elite keycaps you can see injection molding dimples on the side facing away.  It's about as wide as the 4000, though not quite as deep (smaller wrist/palm rest).
* There is a plank at the front of the keyboard which serves the same purpose as the detachable one on the Natural 4000 - provides a reverse slope to the user.  However, the advantage of this one is that it's foldable.
* There seems to be more separation between the left and right keyboard areas compared with other Natural boards.  I'm yet to decide whether this is a good thing or not.  Of course, the trouble with these ergonomic boards is that they are a one size fits all.
* Like the 4000 and unlike the Elite, the keys are nicely cupped.
* Like the 4000 and the Elite, and unlike the Natural Multimedia, the keys take off-centre strikes well.  (This is a major problem on the Multimedia - the keys are fine when you are typing at full speed, but when in slouch mode, casually pressing shift and enter keys in the corner, they be stiff to the point of almost getting stuck.)

The bad:
* Not really impressed by the keyfeel unfortunately.  The keys have more play in them than the Elite, and make marginally more noise.  The keypress starts off soft and fairly light and then runs into a cushy resistance.  It's not bad, but I'd rather not have that final gooey part.
* A minor thing - I would have preferred the navigation block to be a bit closer to the main key cluster.
* Another minor thing...  Unlike other natural boards, by default the keys are actually inclined.  The flip-up plank at the front creates a modest decline - nothing like the steep decline of the Natural 4000.
* I really prefer the more modern layouts where they drop the "right click key".  It feels more symmetrical this way with 3 keys on both sides of the spacebar of almost the same size.  The Natural Multimedia and the 4000 have this layout.
* The spacebar and the meta keys are somewhat vague.
* Though nicely sculpted, the key edges can feel too sharp.  The Elite has the same problem.  On the Natural Multimedia, the keycaps are also nicely cupped, yet don't feel as prickly.  At the other end of the spectrum you have the 4000 with its almost flat keys.

To conclude, I like the MS Natural Multimedia the most so far.  It's heavy, creaky, the keys are noisy, the bigger ones need to be hit in the centre... and yet it has the best keyfeel by far.  It's light and clicky.  And to think that originally I didn't want it and bought it by accident.  I am wondering now whether it's time to thin the herd.  I have too many keyboards.  Not taking ergonomics into account, the Cherry Cymotion are the smoothest membranes I've tried so far.  Soft, but not mushy and can take off-center key presses very well.

I hope that this will be the last purchase for some time.  I think I'll have to build my own to get exactly what I want.

Have you had a chance to take any pictures?

Is the cherry cymotion a design that has a seperate plunger?

Whiskey in the Jar-o:
Yeah, one of these days I will post some pics of all my ergo boards next to each other.  The Natural family, altogether now.  Maybe even this weekend.  BTW, the shocking thing is that I've been using MS Wired Keyboard 500, which is their absolute cheapest keyboard, and been quite happy with it.  No pain.  It's also small and compact.  The keytravel, though somewhat shallow, have a definite activation point, without a mushy or especially hard landing.  The keycaps are also cupped just enough for the fingers not to feel "lost", yet without the sharp abrasive corners of the Natural, Natural Elite and Northgate Evolution.

The Cherry Cymotion has a bog-standard membrane dome and plunger setup.  It just happens to be the best implementation of the idea - smooth, soft, yet springy, with normal amount of travel, which feels deeper than any other membrane.

Whiskey in the Jar-o:
After using the original Natural for a couple of days, all I can say is that it kicks ass.  The keys have either loosened up, or I simply got used to them, but they feel soft, clicky and very pleasant to type on.  I can't believe I got it so cheap.  I like the fact that all the keys are full-size, the cursor cluster is normal, and that it has no crappy "extra" keys.

Congrats on the find. :)


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version