Product Reviews, or "How to ease buyer's remorse"
Still in ramp mode at the new digs so I'll review the recent keyboard and mouse I bought. Choices were limited to what was available at Staples because I'm not exactly what you would call an ambitious hillbilly when it comes to peripheral shopping.
Microsoft's Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000
The packaging claims it is Microsoft's most comfortable mouse ever, which is why I chose it over Logitech's VX Revolution, a mouse that has a lot more buttons and that purty hyperscroll wheel but still forces your hand into carpal tunnel territory.
Alas, the Natural Wireless Yadda Yadda Yadda still requires some conscious effort to force your hand into the vertical position they want you to use. I suspect the Evoluent VM is a better choice in this regard.
It's not so bad if you rest your hand with the index and middle fingers on the two mouse buttons, which I think is how they expect you to work it. But I prefer using my index and fourth fingers for them leaving my third free to work the scroll wheel. And when I do that, my hand has a tendency to revert into a more horizontal (i.e. less wrist-friendly) position. And when I do use the "correct" fingers, the scroll wheel is not nearly as accessible due to the mouse's sheer (but necessary) bulk.
This one also features the new horizontal scrolling on the mouse wheel. It makes a nice demo but after playing with it for a while, I can't help wondering why they didn't just replace the whole thing with a miniature joystick instead. Scrolling a vertical wheel left and right doesn't feel right and it takes a lot to make a hillbilly feel unnatural.
Final verdict: More comfortable than a regular mouse but not as ergonomic as I would have hoped. It's cheaper than the Logitech one but, and this is pure speculation, probably not as comfortable as the Evoluent.
Not reviewed: The Data Hand
Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000
The main competition with this was another keyboard that wasn't "natural" but had a Win key on either side of the spacebar, as opposed to only on the left on this one. I use WinKey a lot so this was actually a fairly big factor in the decision. Alas, I chose comfort over function again and now I am forced to use two hands to lock my screen instead of one (Win + L). The reason I decided against the other one was that it included a mouse I didn't like but on reflection, it wasn't that much more expensive...
Not that I'm disappointed with the one I bought. It has all the buttons where they're supposed to be, and the more useless ones that keyboard manufacturers seem eager to add (like the Search and Calculator buttons) don't get in the way. I haven't put the split keyboard through it's paces too much yet but early indications are very positive. There's a little "zoom" mechanism between the two keyboard sections that lets you increase or decrease the font-size in IE. Again, not a feature I imagine gets used a lot and given it's position, it would have been a perfect place to put something more practical there, like a couple more buttons for favorite applications or better yet, macros.
Other nice features include a wrist rest that's slightly more comfortable than one would expect and more keys above the number pad (for equal sign, left and right parentheses, and backspace). It also comes with a little stand that raises the front of the keyboard which can be detached and used for snagging cords behind your desk that are out of reach.
So apart from the fact that the right-click key (which I have yet to see being used at all, let alone actively enough to warrant such a prominent position on they keyboard) is occupying the space where a more useful second Win key could go, it's a keyboard I can be proud of.
Kyle the Critiqued