A couple of months ago, I purchased an ErgoDox EZ, an open-source, QMK-powered, ortholinear, ergonomic mechanical keyboard. It took some time to learn how to use it, particularly having purchased the legend-less keycap version, but now that I have, I love this keyboard to bits.

My (rather dusty) ErgoDox EZ

My previous keyboard was a Redragon KUMARA K552, AKA the cheapest mechanical keyboard I could find. It was a UK-layout, Cherry MX Blue keyboard, with a shitty app that didn’t even work, and I hated it, though probably not as much as my parents who had to deal with the noise.

The primary reason I purchased this keyboard is for its ergonomics – I spend a lot of time on the computer, I plan to continue doing so in my proffesional life, and I’ve heard terrifying stories about RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome effectively ruining one’s career in a computer-driven field.

The ErgoDox eliminates stress caused by ulnar deviation by splitting the keyboard in twain, so that you can comfortably place your hands on the keyboard without tilting your wrists. It also includes two thumb clusters, which means 121 keys can be pressed using your thumb, a massive jump from the grand total of… one key on standard keyboards.

Furthermore, the ErgoDox is ortholinear, meaning that the keys are aligned in a grid instead of being staggered, requiring less finger movement on average. This took a little time to get used to, having had some muscle-memory key combos thoroughly messed up, but I managed.

Ooh, and it’s mechanical! Even on my old crappy keyboard, I still appreciated the quality feel of the keys, and I could never go back to membrane. The website can also help you decide on a switch to get, based on what you want it to feel like. I went with the Cherry MX Brown, for the tactile, yet silent buttons.

As you can see, the hardware of this thing is great. The software, however, might be even better. It’s built on QMK, an open-source firmware for keyboards, which grants the user complete control over what each and every button does. Here’s my config, created using ZSA’s Oryx configuration GUI. I’ll spare you the details, but I explain all of my choices in the tour on the website.

Everything about this keyboard is perfect for my use. The ortholinear keys mean I can (potentially, once I get good) type faster, the extra keys are hotkey heaven, and I’ve spend countless hours meticulously customizing my layout just how I want it. It’s also open-source, so I can trust my hardware not to spy on me.

Some people have reported that because the keyboard takes so much space, they have nowhere to use the mouse — but I use Linux with i3, so I don’t really get what they’re on about. When I need to use the mouse, I’m probably gaming, and I’ll move the right-hand part to the side.

This keyboard is not cheap, costing a whopping $325 including accessories, but I don’t hold that up against ZSA, for a couple of reasons:

  1. The keyboard is made to order; they don’t have any stock
  2. It’s made by people in Taiwan who’re treated like human beings and are being paid
  3. It comes with free shipping2

All in all, if you plan to spend a lot of time typing away in your desktop PC, or if you just like to tinker with hardware, I wholeheartedly recommend the ErgoDox EZ. If it’s too pricey, you might want to look at building your own, such as the Infinity ErgoDox.

  1. Realistically speaking, you’re also going to hit the two buttons closest to the clusters with your thumb, bringing the total up to 14. ↩︎

  2. It didn’t come to me with free shipping, because Israel has some bonkers import tax and took 50% extra, so the whole ordeal cost 1500 of my precious Shekels. ↩︎

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