When comparing Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 vs Topre Realforce 104UB, the Slant community recommends Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 for most people. In the question“What are the best keyboards for programming?” Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 is ranked 9th while Topre Realforce 104UB is ranked 13th. The most important reason people chose Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 is:
The 4000 keyboard is designed to be more comfortable to type on than regular rectangular keyboards. Its key rows curve to match the human hands’ angled resting position, eliminating the wrist strain that happens with regular keyboards. This is an important factor in reducing the risk of injury.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Ergonomic and comfortable
Pro Great value for money
With a retail price of $39.04, this keyboard is considerably more affordable than most ergonomic keyboards on the market. It doesn’t have the same caliber as more premium keyboards, but it’s a top option for those on a budget who are looking for a good ergonomic option.
Pro Can be used with a negative tilt
While the 4000 keyboard can be raised at the back like conventional keyboards, it also comes with a detachable platform that raises the front of the keyboard. This creates a negative tilt more natural to the arm-hand alignment.
Pro Ergonomic wrist support
Foam cushions support one’s wrists while typing, preventing “hanging hands,” which can cause fatigue over extended periods.
Pro Great for people with big hands
Due to its size, this keyboard is great for those who have big hands.
Pro Several additional, personalizable keys
This keyboard has hotkeys for things like media control, zoom or launching applications. The function keys also have secondary functions, activated by an F-lock key. Some of them are customizable via a companion app (for Windows and macOS) that ships with the keyboard.
Pro Key swapping for macOS
On macOS, users have the option of swapping the Windows and Alt keys, so they match the Option and Command key order found on standard Apple keyboards, even if no alternate keycaps or stickers are provided for use with this OS.
Pro Standard ancillary key layout
The number pad, the arrow keys, Insert, Home etc. are all in their standard positions which is not common on Ergonomic keyboards.
Pro Uses Topre key switches
Topre switches are a mix between mechanical switches and rubber dome switches. They have mechanical components, however they are covered beneath a rubber dome which protects the switch. They bring a mechanical feel, and mix it with the durability of a rubber dome switch.
Pro Variable key weights
Variable weights under each specific groups of keys was done in a bid to prevent RSI (repetitive strain injury). For instance, the groups of keys that the pinky finger hits are much lighter/softer than the rest of the groups of keys that are pressed by the rest of the fingers. Variable weights are achieved by having either heavier or lighter rubber domes. Whilst this idea is very useful for normal typing, for gaming it's not so great: for instance, when dealing with First Person Shooter games that requires WASD keys, those sets of keys feel very light when fingers other than the pinky are used to actuate them.
Pro Silenced option are available
Silenced Topre switches are designed for those who do not particularly like the sound of keyboards being tapped on or for those who may be concern over disturbing others when using a noisy keyboard. Silencing is done mainly by placing a material that absorbs the sound of the slider when it makes contact with the slider housing. This thereby prevents excessive noise when the key has been released after it has been actuated. The overall effect of a silenced Topre is quite astounding as it may give the impression one is on a cheap keyboard (obviously, the reality is actually the opposite).
Pro PBT keycaps
PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) keycaps last longer than other keycap materials, and are more durable. They are more expensive than ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), which is why they are less commonly found.
Con The space bar is hard to press
While it's new, the space bar needs quite some force to be pressed down.
Con No mechanical switches
The 4000 keyboard uses the same traditional rubber dome switches found on common keyboards, unlike the mechanical switches found on many other good programming keyboards. Rubber dome switches are inconsistent and always need to be bottomed out with each key press. They are also not especially durable, lasting about a quarter of the time their mechanical counterparts last. It should be noted this switch option is one of the main reasons why this keyboard is so affordable.
Con Key printing gets erased after a short time
After 2 or 3 months of use, the most used keys loose their printed symbols.
Con Not very portable
With external dimensions of 19.8’’ x 10.3’’ x 3.26’’ (503 mm x 262 mm x 82.8 mm) and weighing 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg), this keyboard is not easy to carry around.
Despite not using mechanical switches, the 4000 keyboard is quite noisy, so it’s not the best pick for those looking for a silent option.
Con Key layout is hard to reconfigure
It's hard to reconfigure the 4000's default key layout. Some users would like to have the option of moving a few keys around, which is very difficult with this keyboard.
Con No USB ports
Can't connect any external devices, since there aren't any USB ports.
Con Almost all the keys are hard to press
The keys can feel too rigid due to the force needed to press them down. This hinders the typing process, making it less fluid.
Con Most of the extra functionality keys are not supported on macOS
This keyboard has a lot of extra functionality keys useful for daily tasks, like media controls or back/forward keys. Unfortunately, most of them are not supported on macOS, even after driver installation.
Con Only solves some RSI problems
While this does help with many RSI problems, it still has the ergonomic disadvantages of a standard keyboard layout.
Con No right hand Windows key
There is no right hand Windows key.
Con Generally not cheap
When the keyboard is not sourced directly from Japan the price may vary (usually higher). At the same time, sourcing directly from Japan may only save one a couple of dollars here and there (after including the forwarding/proxy costs). Ideally, the best solution is to shop around and do one's homework, to see what is more viable in the long run.
Con Lack of customisation available
As is the case with virtually every Topre based keyboard, the 104UB comes with the disadvantage of lacking customisation options. This is mitigated by the fact Realforce generally sells a wide range of coloured keycaps for their keyboards.
Con Keys can occassionally chatter
It's pretty rare (maybe once every 3 months), but Realforce keyboard keys can "chatter" (at least on the Realforce 87u and 103u keyboards). The key is not physically stuck in the keydown position, but nevertheless, the input will continuously and endlessly repeat as if the key was being held down. Further keyboard input is ignored until you unplug the USB cable. It's an uncommon annoyance, however an annoyance nonetheless.