Review – Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop

These days, when it comes to peripherals for computers, a lot of attention is given to mobile keyboards and mice for tablets and laptops. But what if you are one of the remaining desktop computer users or use your laptop or tablet on a dock as your primary computer in your home or office? You will likely want a full-size mouse and keyboard to fill out your command center.

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop is a fresh and comfortable setup that combines functionality, versatility, and style.

The Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop consists of three devices, a keyboard, a mouse, and a number pad that all connect through a single USB dongle. Each piece has been thoughtfully crafted to maximize utility with Windows 8.1, while simultaneously providing a comfortable user experience.

Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard (Image credit: Microsoft)

The keyboard

The Sculpt keyboard, which runs on two AAA batteries, is the signature piece of the set, clearly recognizable by its distinct split-key design and ergonomic wave shape. The wave, along with its padded rest, make typing comfortable and less stressful to your hands and wrists. The Sculpt also comes with an optional riser that attaches to the bottom with magnets, should you want raise your hands higher off the desk.

The keys on the keyboard are all slightly raised and spaced just the right amount to cut down on the number of typos. They also give off enough of a clicking sound when pressed without being obnoxious. They are by no means mechanical, but they are not completely soft clicking either. Key travel is low to mid range.

Along the top, the F1-F12 keys double as your typical Windows 8 controls, like music playback/volume, search, share, devices, and settings. There is a Fn Lock switch to toggle between the F1-F12 functions or Windows controls as the default.

Despite its ergonomic shape, the Sculpt keyboard is even pleasant to use for those of us who don't quite type "the right way." For anyone who does, though, it's a dream.

The mouse

Not to be outdone by the oddly formed keyboard, the Sculpt mouse has a unique look of its own. Affectionately referred to by some as the "hamburger mouse" for its bulbous design, it is just short of being circular in shape. The Sculpt Mouse is also one of the tallest, and deceptively comfortable mice that you will ever come across.

It curves into the palm of your hand, turning it enough that the outside of your palm and wrist rest comfortably on the desk. The rest of your hand is elevated sufficiently to keep it from feeling strained in any way.

The "hamburger" has your traditional left and right mouse buttons, as well as a scroll wheel with middle-click functionality. In addition, there is a back button at the tip of your thumb and a Windows button just above it that performs the same function as its counterpart on your keyboard.

At first, I was skeptical that I would like using the Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse, but I was instantly proven wrong. The shape keeps your hand in a natural position, even when moving the mouse around. The left and right buttons have large areas of activation, so you don't need to reposition your fingers at all to click. Whereas many mice force you to use your fingertips to click, this one allows you to just push nearly any part of your finger down.

The result of it all is less hand fatigue and a stress-free computing experience.

The number pad

The final component of the Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop is the stand-alone number pad. Unlike its sibling devices, the number pad looks pretty standard. It's a svelte, no-frills pad with all the typical buttons. It also includes a pre-programmed button that calls up the calculator in Windows.

Frankly, there isn't anything special here, but it is a welcome addition to the set, since the Sculpt keyboard doesn't have a number pad of its own built on it.

In summary

The Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop has just about everything going for it. First and foremost, it is extremely comfortable to use, even for long stretches. The ergonomic design of the keyboard and mouse keep your arms and hands in a perfect position to minimize strain.

This setup is also chock full of functionality. It is geared for Windows 8.1, complete with all the keyboard shortcuts you need, as well as the built-in Windows button on the mouse. However, the Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop will also work fine with any other operating system, just without the added perks.

And finally, the Sculpt desktop set just plain looks cool. It's great that Microsoft put function before form, but they were also able to give it a novel appearance that complements just about any office setup.

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop retails for $129.95, which, though pricey, is easily justified for such a high-quality set. The good news is that you can find it heavily discounted on Amazon (opens in new tab), fetching just $69.99.

  • I bought the Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop about 6 months ago and use it every day with my standing desk. It takes time to get used to, but I'm a huge fan of ergo keyboards and this model in particular. It is one of the nicest in terms of quality and I highly recommend it for those who type a lot. My only wish? Backlit keys, but I'm in the minority on that (plus it probably couldn't be wireless anymore).
  • Is it hardy enough to play games?
  • I suppose? I don't game on my PC, so don't really know. Can't see why not, but then again, Razer makes "gaming keyboards" for a reason...
  • I can answer this.  I use it when I'm playing games on my Alienware X51 living room PC (its a guest gaming PC).  The wireless is awesome and the battery life is pretty surprising.  You will find your self changing them more than desktop use, but not a big deal if you deal with rechargeable batterys.  The magnetic seals for the battery covers, the feel, texture, weight and size of the hardware are pretty well balanced and thought out.  The biggest criticism I have is access to Function keys and backlight.  I understand this means more battery, but it can be hard to play for some people.  If you're concerned about any of that for casual gaming use, you should opt for the basic, but much larger, wired ergnomic keyboard.  I bought one finally to relocate use of this wireless set and though the wire is annoying, it delivers a more consistent gaming experience.  There is much better hardware for those dedicated to gaming.
  • I recently moved to this keyboard from the MS Natural 4000, but really wanted wireless and this fit the bill. After making the switch I can't even use the 4000 any more, as I really like the shorter travel of the keys as well as the detached number pad (even though that battery died after 2 days).
  • I also moved to this in my home office from the MS Natural 4000. I do love it, but, being a developer, I would think I died and went to heaven if they would come out with a full-size version of this. Exact same key layout of the MS Natural 4000 with the new style keys, full-size Fn keys and no Fn-toggle, I'd pay double for that. 
  • I go back and forth on this, while the separte buttons in the top row would be nice, I really have enjoyed having the detached numpad as I don't use it as often as I thought I did. There was some info posted when this was released a while ago about the thought process behind detaching the number pad. Plus I travel to different clients (I'm also a dev) and find that the size makes it quite portable.
  • Yeah, I would take the separate number pad if I must, but the part I really need is the cursor keys, Home/End/PageUp/PageDn/Insert/Delete to be in the same formation as on the 4000. So many years of muscle memory, the slow down, while minimal, is still impacting me months into using the Sculpt. I think the argument for NumPad removal was to minimize the distance for moving your arm to the mouse, which makes sense.
  • Daniel, Do you type the "right way" or do you use your own style? I've been looking for a new Ergo Keyboard and this might fit the bill, but sometimes I cross my fingers over to the opposite side when typing. I'm worried that space in the middle might consfuse me for the first few weeks.
  • I don't type the right way, and I still really like using it.
  • You ever find yourself "clicking" that empty space in the middle? How long did it take you to get comfortable with it? Thanks!
  • @Freelicks, I type the "right way" but as Seth noted, he does not and still like it.
  • My wife has been using a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard for many years, quite happily. I like the look of this one. I don't suppose they have a mouse that is better suited for those who are left handed, do they?
  • VI am left handed, but i use the mouse with the right hand with no problem. In fact I'm so used that I can't use the mouse with the left hand. But of course, every person is different. Oh, I almost forgot that I use the smartphone with the right hand too...
  • I too have had this keyboard for about 9 months, and the only thing I want different is a backlit keyboard. As for my older MS ergonomic set, this new one is superior.
  • I have a Logitech wireless keyboard with backlit keys, but its rechargable and doesnt use AAA batteries.
  • I have been using this for several months now and love it. The only complaint I have about this is that the palm rests seem to collect dirt and show wear too quickly! Have you experienced the same?
  • I don't think I agree about the quality.  I bought this set the first day it was available at the Microsoft Store, which I think was somewhere around October 2013.  I love using it for work and home, but the quality doesn't seem to be holding up.  The soft wrist rest is wrinkled where my hands rest, showing its age only months after I got it.  The rubber part of the mouse is deteriorating where my thumb rests against it, bubbling up as if my thumb were made of acid.  And I had to glue the rubber part back down on the far left edge since that started detaching from the plastic.  Recently I've had problems with the / ? key working when I pressed it.  If it pressed it hard to get it to work it would make a cracking sound.  I took the key off and found a small piece of platic broken off.  I managed to get the key back on after removing the plastic, and so far so good.  Another complaint is the keys to the left of the Enter key are strangely configured, requiring me (still after over a year) to look at the keyboard to use keys like Delete and Insert.  I still hit the wrong keys quite often. On a positive note, I'm still using the original batteries for the keyboard!  The mouse batteries need replacing more often, but they last longer than any other wireless mouse I've had. I really enjoy using this set.  I espeically like the laptop-like keys on the keyboard, but with an ergonomic layout.  However, I'm worried that I'm not going to get many more years out of it due to the quality concerns.
  • Been using this since shortly after Paul Thurrott reviewed it. Mouse is awkward at first but after time everything else feels unnatural. As a person that grew up doing 10-key stuff, I kind of wish the number pad was attached and at the same angel but understand that not everyone does number crunching. Keys are a bit loud but hands down the best ergo keyboard I've used. My two wishes for the next version are the backlit and rechargeable. I had the Logitech K800 which was wireless USB and rechargeable so I know it can be done. I really like how they sense when your hands are over the keypad before turning the backlit on to save on power. Also the quietest typing on that one. True geek, I plugged the USB dongle into my Xbox One and to use the keyboard and my 8' tablet running Smartglass like a touch pad mouse.
  • I bought one. sort-of liked it except for the humungous mouse, but the keyboard stopped working after a few weeks. returned it and the new keyboard stopped working after a few weeks. still using my Microsoft Natural MultiMedia Keyboard 1.0A from the 90s. I've picked up three of them on eBay. it has no equal!
  • I've also used it for the last 6+ months and considering that my typing skill is far from being recommended, I was a bit worried about the learning curve. I shouldn't have been: without looking at the layout, I adapted to its ergonomics in a matter of minutes despite my lack of proper technique! This keyboard is fantastic. There are still room to improvements though:
    - Backlit keys would be one along with a bluetooth model and a cord one!
    - The FN toggle key is far from being ideal as you need to switch it instead of hit it.
    - I'd like to the able to use the numpad pre-programmed key to launch the Metro/Modern calculator app instead or, even better, be able to remap it (and others) as I see fit.
    -  The mouse would benefit from additional lateral scrolling keys to navigate through webpages and stuff.
  • That is just awesome but the price!!
  • $70 isn't bad at all for a quality wireless desktop set. It's pretty comparable when you look at its Logitech counterparts.
  • Just purchased off Amazon. I look forward to using this for my work desktop.
  • The most comfortable keyboard I've used.
  • You can save a few dollars on this by buying the "Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for Business" which is the same keyboard + numpad with no mouse.
  • Good point, but I think the mouse is one of the best parts.
  • A long time ago I decided to use a trackball (for ergonomic reasons) and have stuck with one for the last 15 years. There are a lot of times that I work in an area where I don't have a flat surface to use standard mouse where a trackball has a lot of advantage. I know that I could just use my laptop's trackpad, but have always found myself to be slower and less precise with a touchpad.
  • Me too, big trackball fan. I haven't used the 'push and pull' mouse for over 2 years now always carry my Logitech M570 with me :-)
  • ah, interesting
  • I also use this set every day for work with my standing desk.  It is by far my favorite keyboard/mouse combo.  I highly recommend it.
  • Forums are down, database error :'(
  • I use this keyboard as my daily driver.     My biggest complaint is the number pad being free from the keyboard.  It just feels wrong....
  • For me number pad being detached is the biggest advantage of this keyboard :-)
  • The microscopic f keys look like a deal breaker.
  • I wanted this set but got the backspace space bar keyboard instead.
  • I have had this keyboard and mouse set since it was released. Yes, it is hardy enough for FPS games like Call of Duty. I play about 10-15 hours per week. I had carpal tunnel surgery on my mouse hand 3 summers ago, and this mouse is the best I have ever used. The function keys are small, but they are the same width as the other keys so there is no issue (for me). The software that microsoft provides lets you customes the keyboard and mouse, and even run macros.
  • Hmmm something I have never heard of
  • I love the keyboard, but it eats batteries, sometimes one per week, making it a worthwhile annuity for that damned bunny. In order to submit a warranty claim, one must use a phone. No kidding. No email, no online forms, at least not that I can find. I wonder if Microsoft even takes cellphone calls, like, too modern?
  • Check your top row F-keys to see if one is stuck down. Your battery drain sounds like one of the keys is stuck and constantly sending out a signal. It's a common problem with this board as the small top keys can get physically pinched on an edge or corner. On mine, if I press the f5 or f6 keys and slight push towards the back of the keyboard (i.e. l press at a diagonal rather than straight up and down) they will get stuck 90% of the time. Slightly pulling the key towards the front of the keyboard will unstick it.
  • The stuck F keys can also cause weird behavior for the lower keys. See here. I use this keyboard for both my Surface RT and my PC, so I was plugging in and unplugging the dongle often. One day, the dongle just quit working. On both the Surface and the PC, it would show up in the Device Manager, but give some kind of "cannot start" error. I called Microsoft support (I NEVER call support) and they immediately shipped out a replacement unit. It was that easy! Of course, it's disappointing that one small thing like a bad dongle necessitates me throwing away three gorgeous pieces of technology. Anyway, I noticed the odd key behavior when I received the new one, and that was due to the stuck function key. Now that everything is working properly, I have to say that this set might be my most favorite piece of hardware I've ever bought! ...and that's going back through a proud tradition of gorgeous Microsoft Hardware products all the way back to my first Sidewinder 3D joystick that I played X-Wing to death on. :)
  • Keyboard is nice but I like mechanical boards.
  • I've used this set for 4 months. It's just fantastic. I have carpal tunnel syndrome and this has really helped in my recovery. As far as ergo goes, it certainly is. I haven't yet had to change any batteries so far. Takes a few days to get used to though.
  • Isn't this over a year old now?
  • Not sure we said it was new, did we? I mean, people still buy keyboards every day, including the staff here ;)
  • Separate num pad?? Is it necessary??
  • Since the numpad isn't necessary most of the time, having it be separate allows one to hide it away for a more comfortable use of the main keyboard & mouse.
  • That keyboard design to me looks very confusing! o.e
  • I've always been a huge fan of Microsoft ergonomic keyboards ever since they came out 20 or so years ago. I purchased this set a few months ago. The only thing that took a little getting used to is that I had to put the stand on underneath so the top of the keyboard is lower than the bottom. But it only took a few days to get used to. With previous models, I could use the keyboard without the stand but with this one,  the keyboard rattles when typing on it if the stand isn't on. I like the separate numeric keypad as it allows the main part of the keyboard to fit underneath my monitor stand when not in use. Also ever since my first computer in 1981 that didn't have the numeric keypad, I never got used to one so I really only use it for when needing to do a lot of calculations and not for general use. The mouse is nice too; it reminds me of the old MS Natural laser mouse in its shape and ergonomics. I was previously using the bluetooth version of the Sculp mouse but it's shape is more like a regular mouse so the one that comes with this shape is more comfortable in my hand.
  • I love the way this keyboard feels and works. My only complaint is that the palm rests seem like they show wear too easily and are big dust collectors! However, that is minor and I love this keyboard. I rarely use the numpad. I mainly use a separate trackball mouse but I have to admit that this mouse is pretty decent!
  • Yeah, I definitely wipe the palm rest down every few weeks, it does collect dust.
  • I'm going to give this one a shot.  I loved the original MS Natural keyboard when I was a developer (got a few weird looks, but it worked for me) and I haven't found one I really liked since...I found one of these sets "used VG" for $30 on Amazon, so we'll see how it does.
  • Well, it arrived today, and here's my initial impression. I honestly don't know if I would spend $130 for this, but for $30, it's pretty good.  My hands are going to have to relearn some of what they used to know in terms of the first generation or two of Microsoft ergonomic keyboards, but so far I like the feel of the keys, and this is probably the best wrist rest I have ever used (we'll have to see how durable it is!). The big surprise was the mouse.  I've seen it at the store, and it just looked awful.  Like a lump.  I was prepared to not like it at all, but once I started using it, it was great.  Maybe the best part of the whole schmear. Again, I don't know if I would buy this at full price, but for anything less than that, I think it would be a very good investment!
  • This is amazing.I'd sell my 520 to get one of these.
  • I've been using these for a while now and I love it!! I have tendinitis problems in my fingers, wrists, shoulders and elbows and it really helps! I've tried a bunch of other ergonomic mice, but this one is the best for me. Even better than the popular Evoluent mouse!
  • I replaced my original MS ERGO keyboard that served 8+ years at work with this and I've been pretty satisfied. The separate numpad is #1 feature. You can keep the mouse in a better position on the desk, which is more ergonomic. I actually cut off the numpad from the old ergo keyboard.=) Occasoionally the modifier keys can get stuck, but that is pretty common with the wireless keyboards (and even with the Surface type cover). That magnetically attached support that rises the keyboard's front side works best if you have an elevated soft elbow rest attached to the desk, The mouse is good too.
  • I would love to have this, but without the mouse. I love my Logitech m705 Wireless mouse, and have a nice Logitech wireless keyboard. I also have the Microsoft Natural 4000 ergonomic keyboard, and a backlit gaming keyboard.  Considering my laptop already has a full keyboard with 10-key and is backlit, I have difficulty rationalizing yet another keyboard. I fell in love with the sexy design of the sculpt keyboard a while back. My MS Natural 4000 is still my favorite one to use when I have a lot of writing/typing to do, and do that at my desk. I use the wireless setup when in the living room with the laptop attached to the big screen and I want to just kick back on the couch and relax. Use the backlit gaming while gaming, of course, at the desk, but I don't really game much anymore. If I'm just casual browsing in a dark room, I have 3 levels of backlight on my laptop's keyboard. Yeah, wish I could convince the wife I need just one more keyboard. It would let me finally give up the old MS Natural 4000. 
  • Actually, there is a mouseless version of this keyboard. It's called the "Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for Business"
  • I found over time the left CTRL becomes less responsive and the left mouse button sticks
  • I have two of these, one on my Wife's new HP all in one desktop at home and one at my office. On both Win 8 at home and Win 7 at the office they are a breeze to use and they're the most comfortable of any keyboard I've used.
  • I love ergo keyboards and I use one for gaming and would be all about this if there was a wired version and the number pad was integrated. Also backlit would be nice too!
  • USB dongle...seriously?
  • I will take a USB dongle for keyboard & mouse when using my desktop over the spotty connectivity of Bluetooth any day.
  • i've got the normal sculpt mouse, and the start button of that mouse has also got a kind of swipe functionality, they should've put that in this ergonomic mouse
  • My three 'wants' for the next Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop, 1) Backlit keys 2) Bluetooth connectivity (to spare my single USB port as a Surface user) 3) A trackpad (separate, like the numeric keypad, taking full advantage of Windows 10 gestures)
  • I've bought like 5 of these. They are the best keyboard ever. I play PC games with it and love it. I've also bought it as gifts and so far its a win across the board. Love the separate numeric keypad.
  • Bought it a few months ago and I love it. The mouse takes time to get used to and I bought an ergonomic pad anyways and is great. The keypad?... I don't know where it is. Stopped working after a couple of weeks and haven't used it since then. That's my only complaint.
  • I got it primarily for the mouse, which is much more comfortable for my tendonitis-plagued hands than any other mouse I've used (though I still prefer the scroll wheel on Logitech's MX series mice) -- the keyboard has been hit or miss for me. The feel is okay, but the functrion keys are really sub-par, and mine are prone to sticking down, particularly the F5 key, which is a pain in most applications where it constantly refreshes, and particularly in Visual Studio, where it constantly compiles and runs. It appears to be a common (though not universal) problem. The sticky keys can also contribute to battery drain, as when the keys are functioning properly I get the typical many months of use on a pair of batteries. The detachable numeric keypad is also a boon, since it allows the keyboard to be centered for typing and the mouse to be comfortable at the same time without having to move either the keyboard or my chair when switching. Note that I am a programmer and have lived with tendonitis for over 20 years (since I was 19) and so my needs and use cases will be different than others.
  • Quite a few posts here from those with CTS or RSI or tendonitis - I get a bit of that too and I'm certain, in my case anyway, that it comes from clicking those damn mouse buttons.  So I use the mouse (any mouse) to move the pointer, then I use the laptop's buttons with my other hand to click, which is way less painful than the mouse (any mouse) buttons.  So my beef with the Sculpt and just about every other wireless or ergo keyboard out there is, why no click-buttons on the keyboard?  Closest I've found is a simple MS wireless keyboard with trackpad and clickable area below (it was about $50, doesn't seem to have a model name or number as far as I can see?), it's quite good and so far I haven't lost the tiny USB dongle yet, but there are no Home, End, Insert, PgUp, PgDn keys - aargh! 
  • i have bought it twice and returned it both times.... have had the microsoft ergo 7000 for years and just can not get used ot the number pad not being attached as one unit.... wish they had an alternative so for now it is the Microsoft wired natural ergo 4000  
  • Nice!! Really looking forward for it.
  • Been using this for well over a year.  Very happy with it.  The mouse is really comfortable.  I doubted at first if I would continue using this mouse, but surpraised with the comfort. Just fits right. I use function keys a lot.  For me I would like seperate function keys and Windows 8 and media keys seperate.  If it had a small touch pad integrated into the keyboard with all the guestures would be more ergonomic.
  • Why all the effort with no backlighting?  Even the Surface Team was wise enough to come up with a backlit cover.  No one working the 2nd shift at Microsoft?
  • I've been a MS ergo keyboard user since the late 90s.  LIke others, I have the 4000 and love it.  I was hoping to go wireless, so I picked up this keyboard about a year ago.  I don't think it is quite as good as the Natural 4000.  I personally prefer the longer key travel on the 4000 as well as its layout.  As a developer, I like having the num pad attached and the pg up, pg dwn, ins, del, and cursor keys between the keyboard and num pad.  I guess I'm old because I still use the old hotkeys (e.g ctrl+ins) for clipboard operations and cursor keys + ctrl and ins to navigate around code and documents.  I just didn't find Sculpt to be as productive for me. I also found that the USB receiver kept my machine from going to sleep.  I'm baffled as to how a keyboard from MS could do this.  Sleep report indicated it was and removal of the receiver proved that it was, in fact, the cause. The thing I'm most disappointed with is that the keyboard has not been as durable/reliable as the 4000.  Almost immediately, the wrist rest started squeeking and the F4 key would get stuck in the down position if pressed in the center or toward right side.  At one point, the backspace stopped working, but this was resolved by unplugging and plugging the USB receiver back in. I hope they'll release another version of this has a layout and reliability closer to the 4000.  I've always loved MS keyboards and my 4000 isn't going to last forever.
  • Is the keyboard comfortable to use on the lap?
  • Im a big fan of the keyboard and the mouse is really comfortable if a little cumbersome due to its size