Having launched a pair of Windows 8 tablet-focused input devices, Microsoft has now turned its attention to full-size peripherals. The Sculpt Comfort Keyboard comes equipped with Microsoft's new array of Windows 8-specific buttons and a new take on the familiar spacebar. By bisecting and enlarging the standard spacebar, Microsoft offers you the option to turn the left spacebar key into a dedicated Backspace button. The Backspace functionality is interesting, but the fatter spacebar gives the Sculpt Comfort a clunky feeling. At $59.99, the price is also high enough that you'll definitely want to try it out before you buy. You might check it out if you're looking to adjust your current typing style, but Microsoft's Sculpt Comfort Keyboard feels more like a solution in search of a problem than a must-have input device.
The Sculpt Comfort feels like the La-Z-Boy of PC keyboards. A padded wrist rest juts out about 2.5 inches from the front of the device. A pair of feet under the wrist rest pops out to elevate your wrists off the desk like an ottoman for your hands. The enlarged spacebar keys create an expansive landing spot for your thumbs, and your fingers fall across Microsoft's familiar wavy, curved key alignment (which you may have seen before). Even the key action feels soft, although in a way that's overly mushy.
The problem is that not everyone wants the keyboard equivalent of an easy chair. The spacebar in particular feels unnecessarily large, and it sets the keys far enough back that you feel like you have to stretch to reach them. You can take the wrist rest off, which helps some, but the spacebar still feels like you have to reach over it to type. And compared with generally crisp laptop keyboards and the newer breed of mechanical typing devices, the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard feels a bit like you're typing in mud.
Microsoft's rationale for the large, bisected spacebar comes from its own research. It explains as follows:
This design choice is the result of internal research that showed 90 percent of typists use only their right thumb to press the spacebar, leaving a lot of unused real estate on the left side of the bar. Research also showed the backspace key is the third most pressed key on the keyboard -- behind the spacebar itself and the letter "e" -- but constantly striking backspace breaks a person's typing stride because of its location on the top right-hand corner of the keyboard.