For years I have been trying out various types of keyboards. Ten keyless, regular size, membrane, mechanical, slim profile, normal profile, you name it. I once even had an “ergo” keyboard. It was quite cheap and was basically ripoff of the Microsoft’s Ergonomic keyboard.
I type a lot. Most of my days are spent in front of the computer and I am constantly “playing keyboard”. I’m not gaming, almost at all. Instead, I usually write scripts, configurations, work in Linux shell etc. So you can imagine that most of my computing usage consists of typing.
Main thing that nudged me to look into split keyboards such as Ergodox has been this unpleasant wrist pain after prolonged periods of typing. No matter what I tried, be it stretching or whatever, didn’t help in mitigating this pain. So naturally, I searched the web for solutions.
While searching I have tried to consider following things:
- Keyboard has to be mechanical. I really like how mechanical switches feel
- It has to be feature rich. I would really like to have additional functions few keystrokes away. Either via macro keys, dedicated media function keys, etc. At the time of the choosing I also wanted to have programmable keyboard and have looked into Happy Hacking keyboards before.
- It has to be ergonomic in some way. This was, as above mentioned, main reason for this whole search.
- Has to be ten keyless, as I don’t like wasting space on the right hand side. As “rightie” I usually have mouse there.
So among others, considering various internet reviews and searches, for the Ergonomic keyboards section I have narrowed the results to
- Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard
- Ergodox EZ
- Kinesis Freestyle
- Kinesis Advantage
- Perhaps few more, can’t recall.
Theme among those keyboards was that they have somehow split the layout in half, in order to better position your arms. Some were in one piece while others were split.
Although quite expensive, I have chosen to go with Ergodox EZ option for the following reasons:
- It’s ortho linear which should reduce horizontal finger movement while typing.
- It has split design which would hopefully allow me to position the keyboard any way I want and not be constrained by its design.
- It’s programmable. Although it doesn’t have any media keys, you can program the layouts as you wish, which was perfect solution really.
One interesting thing about Ergodox EZ is that it is being manually assembled according to configuration you have chosen while ordering and thoroughly tested before it is sent out to you. Each switch has to have the right feel. And oh my, I can tell you that’s true. QA is really on point IMHO.
So, once I have decided it was time to configure the new keyboard and order it.
I have settled for the following configuration:
- Tilt Kit
- Wing Rest
- Shine (background lighting, no key backlight)
- Blank sculpted key-caps (I don’t look at the keyboard anyways, and sculpted ones should help with my long typing sessions.
- Cherry MX Brown switches
That whole setup has costed me around $350, which is quite a lot for a keyboard. I remember convincing my girlfriend (now wife) on why exactly do I need this thing.
One thing I didn’t account for was the fact that I live in Croatia, and keyboard is being sent from Taiwan, thus, I have to pay import charges, which costed me roughly +25% of the keyboard price.
Keyboard was assembled and sent in timely fashion, and I believe that whole process took less than 3 weeks. Process being: from ordering to laying my hands on the keyboard.
Once I have gotten the keyboard it was quite hard to get accustomed to it. This is especially true since I have only used regular-layout keyboards until then.
Since I write with 10 fingers I haven’t had any issues getting accustomed to using split keyboard layout, but this damn thing being ortholinear has caused quite a few typos in the beginning. My typing speed plummeted to about 30WPM if I’m being optimistic.
After a day or two I got accustomed and my speed somewhat returned, and after 2 weeks I was up to my regular typing speed and with time I can say I’m quite faster on it than on any other keyboard now.
In the process I had to make the keyboard my own and after quite a few iterations and using various layouts for months I have settled for the following layout recently.
Do note, I might change it again later :-)
Was it worth it?
Main downside of the keyboard is its price obviously, but now that I use it for 2 and a half years almost, and having experienced both build quality, reliability, versatility and all, I can say it is quite cheap for what you get.
Aside of the build quality, revolutionary layout, serviceability of the keyboard is nice as well. Lately I’ve been ordering various mechanical switches to change the things up a bit, and replacing switches is a breeze.
So yeah, you bet it is worth it. It is hard to decide to purchase it due to the price, but once you get it you’ll soon realize it is an well worth investment.
If anything, I might just get another one, “for backup” ;-) But can’t currently decide to go with the same model or the Moonlander :-P