New keyboard

I switched from a Kinesis Freestyle2 to a Matias Ergo Pro, and I'm pretty happy with it! It feels much more solid. The springs feel a lot like the old Kinesis Evolution (which is to say, "like springs, not bubble wrap"), and it's a lot quieter.

I ordered it almost a year ago, and it only just arrived.

There aren't a lot of options for two piece, separated keyboards.

Things I like about the Matias:

  • The connecting cable is removable. The Kinesis was hardwired, and wasn't as long as I liked. The cable that comes with the Matias is also kind of short, but it's just a standard 3.5mm 4-conductor cable, so that's a cheap fix.

    Update: No, that cable doesn't work reliably. The failure mode is that sometimes modifier keys get stuck on until you power-cycle the keyboard. This cable fails in the same way. I need a TRRS cable that is around 25" long to replace the 18" retractable one that came with, but I haven't found one that works yet.

  • The bottom row is much taller, and Ctrl is wider.
  • Esc is tall and awesome and in the right place, so I don't keep hitting `~ by mistake.
  • The Delete Forward key is banished off to the Fn row, which is great because now I can stop hitting it by accident all the time.
  • Right-Shift doesn't have to the right of it begging to be hit by mistake.
  • The bank of function keys on the left is smaller, which is nice because I never used those anyway.
  • Fn is a chord instead of FnLock, so you have to hold it down to switch between function keys and media keys. I'm on the fence about this but I think I like it.

Do Not Want:

  • Separated keyboards are supposed to have 6^ on both sides! The Matias has it only on the right. This is horrible. It is literally ruining my life.
  • Opt is only on the left side, instead of on both sides. Cmd is on both, but really I want all three on both sides.
  • There's a NumLock key to the left on the N that turns the right side into a numeric keypad. I hit it by mistake all the time and then v50 c6. 64 352 5 6 53. 5' 250 6 .050.
  • Guess what keycode the Paste key sends? If you guessed Paste you'd be wrong. It sends Cmd-V and Emacs sheds a single tear.
  • For some reason USB Overdrive doesn't recognize it as a keyboard at all, so I can't remap any of its keys.

Still, it's an improvement overall.

Kinesis: Old and busted.

Matias: New hotness.

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9 Responses:

  1. https://pqrs.org/osx/karabiner/ may be a suitable replacement for USBOverdrive.

    • Karl Shea says:

      I'll second this. I've been using it since it was called KeyRemap4MacBook to make my Fn key actually Ctrl, and remap Opt-Fn to Fn. I know it can do lots more but that's all I needed.

      • Edouard says:

        Same - it seems to have hundreds of features and options, and I use it for remapping exactly one key :-)

  2. mattyj says:

    Dvorak. Dvorak. Herp. Derp. Dvorak.

  3. brone says:

    Thank you for the review. Might have to buy one now.

    The next revision of the keyboard is supposed to have a Ctrl key in place of Num Lock, which sounds a lot more useful. Though not, in my view, quite as useful as just having a keyboard with a normal layout.

  4. Enarc Kram says:

    Maybe you should kickstarter the keyboard you want.

  5. Alfredo Deza says:

    The ergodox is fully configurable so you can map/re-map any keys to whatever you want. And it stays with the keyboard as it has an internal memory and cpu.

    It also has 'layers' so that a specific keyboard layout may be on one layer while other mappings stay on others.

    My friend Matt Harrison had a good, thorough review of it (better than just the ergodox.org site): http://hairysun.com/blog/2014/05/13/revisiting-the-ergodox/

  6. The Real Alfredo Deza says:

    I love the positioning of the arrow keys and how easy they are to use in vim.

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