My journey from a generic mechanical keyboard to the stunning Ergodox EZ.
Before deciding to treat myself, I used a Cooler Master Storm QuickFire TK. That keyboard isn’t bad, but since typing is what I do for a living, I thought I should consider an ergonomic one. That was also my first mechanical keyboard. Before the CM QFR TK, I used a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.
Enter the dragon
After a lot of consideration, I ended up choosing between the Ergodox EZ and the Kinesis Advantage 2. Both of them are customizable ergonomic keyboards targeting people who type a lot. This isn’t a comparison post, so I won’t go into details about the differences. But I will note that the deciding factors for me (sorted by order of importance) are:
- Availability - the Ergodox ships to Europe and it doesn’t cost a fortune
- Customizability - Ergodox trumps the Kinesis when it comes to customizability
In the end, I ordered an Ergodox EZ with all the optional bells and whistles.
My last keyboard had Cherry MX Blues. That was my first encounter with a mechanical keyboard. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I read lots of good stuff about blues online. They’re great!
This time around, I opted to go for Browns, seeing as they have tactile feedback like blues, but are non-clicky.
The Cherry MX Browns are great to type on! They offer tactile feedback without the clickiness, with a duller thud-like sound instead. I find that more pleasant to listen to for extended periods of time compared to the clickiness of the blues. This is completely subjective, of course, someone might prefer it the other way around.
Another option I went with is to have no print on the keycaps (ninja caps). The blank keycaps that Ergodox offers are sculpted. This is one of the small things that make a difference after a couple of hours of typing.
The build quality is outstanding.
The plastic case is strong and sturdy. I was very pleased to find out that the blank keycaps are out of PBT plastic. The printed ones are out of ABS, though. They don’t have any horizontal or vertical wobble.
The “wings” - the wrist pads - are very hard and offer great support. They stick to the surface, but there’s also one drawback: dust sticks to them. But that dust is cleanable with a quick sweep with a wet wipe.
There’s also one more annoyance that I noticed. When using the tilt/tent kit washers, the kit isn’t strong enough to support the weight of my hands when typing. It’s important to note that this is only when tenting at a very dull angle and when you use the tilt/tent kit washers.
Here comes the best part - this is where the keyboard excels! Every component is adjustable.
The wrist pads aren’t connected to the keyboard, so you can position them whichever way you like. Moving them a bit from time to time helps deal with hand strain from prolonged keyboard usage.
The tilt/tent kit provides amazing adjustability. It takes some time to find the position that’s most comfortable for you. It’s because you’re not used to this kind of support if you haven’t experienced it before. The kit is very sturdy and solid, provided you use the kit without the washers - most people don’t use them.
One of the best things about the keyboard is that it’s ortholinear - it’s not staggered. This is another one of those things you can’t know what it’s like until you try it. It’s much more pleasant to type on than a staggered keyboard.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the most important thing: it’s split. You have one part for each hand. This allows you to move them apart as much as you want, which helps prevent ulnar deviation. This goes hand in hand with sculpted keycaps. Both of them help support proper hand positioning when typing.
Even though the included LEDs are cool and fun to use, the keyboard doesn’t have any key backlighting. This is one of the things that I’d like to see in one of the future iterations.
Some time after I got my board, Ergodox announced they now have replacable key switches. This is a great sign that the company is improving the product and not growing complacent.
They also accept bitcoin as a payment method. You won’t see bitcoin as an accepted payment method at many other keyboard manufacturers.
The experience is sublime. It’s everything you ever wanted from a keyboard and then some.
I’ll write about a couple more things that contribute to the experience you get.
I hit a snag with the keyboard firmware. My Ergodox is the Shine version of the keyboard, that one has customizable RGB LEDs in it. The default firmware that came with the keyboard had a bug. A version of QMK didn’t work with the C file generated by the ergodox configurator. This caused the LED controls to misbehave. I sent an email with the explanation of the problem. The founder responded, debugged the issue, and pushed a new firmware version within a day. Amazing!
Since the keyboard runs on QMK, the layout is customizable as well. Every single button is remappable. The layout itself can have up to 32 layers with a few ways to switch between them. There’s also a graphical layout configurator.
I also had one non-standard request when ordering the keyboard - I wanted white keycaps with a black board. They usually do white keycaps on a white board or black keycaps on black board. This wasn’t an issue and I had to leave a note in the order.
My package didn’t come with a keycap remover. I already have one, but it would be nice if that came with the keyboard as well.
The Ergodox is an awesome keyboard with amazing ergonomics. The company definitely stands behind its product. I count myself among the plethora of satisfied users around the world. If you want a rock solid with uncompromising ergonomics, this is most likely what you want to get.