I wasn't happy with the Kinesis Freestyle2 because though I liked its layout, its key switches were just intolerably mushy. Just a dreadful level of mushiness. So I kept trying to befriend the Matias Ergo Pro. It has a reasonable layout, and great switches. But, having now gone through four separate Matias keyboards (including trying various permutations of the left and right halves from different instances) I can conclusively say that it's just junk. JUNK I TELL YOU. I don't know if it's a hardware problem or a firmware problem, but I do know that if you want a keyboard that will reliably send the keys that you type, and only those, the Matias isn't it. Easy time I would buy a new one, it would work fine for a month, and then go to crazy-town where I would have to unplug it from USB a couple times a day to get it out of perma-caps-lock mode, or to get it to stop pretending the "E" key was held down by ghosts, or some other koo-koo-ness.
But, great news! Kinesis has released a variant of the Freestyle2 that you can get with good switches! It's the Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge and I'm really happy with it. I got it with Cherry MX Brown switches.
The layout is roughly the same as the Freestyle2:
Kinesis Freestyle2: Old and busted.
- Great switches!
- The connecting cable is permanently attached, but is nice and long. At first I thought it was annoyingly short, but it turns out that more of it was coiled up inside the keyboard. It's a nice system.
- The top "Delete Forward" key is no longer wide, which is fine (and you get PrtSc and ScrLk, which I'm sure someone might someday press on purpose).
- The 6 is on the left only. There should be one on each side.
- In an affront to all that is holy, the bottom left row reads "Ctrl Windows Alt" instead of "Ctrl Opt Cmd".
Unlike the Freestyle2, they do not sell a Mac-keycap variant of the Gaming Freestyle Edge. However, it's really easy to re-map keys using the keyboard's firmware itself, without external software. This means it will stay mapped even when you're logged in as a different user or not running in a GUI environment or whatnot. But, one oddity with a Mac is that the keyboard itself takes a little while to load its keymap after a USB bus reset... so if you are trying to option-boot a Mac, it's too early for your option key to be where you thought it was, and you have to use the other one, which is confusing.
- No USB ports! Nowhere to plug in your mouse! Come on.
This is especially weird because, for some incomprehensible reason, you can also mount the keyboard as a 4MB drive. Why would I ever want this? I don't know. It looks like the keymap files are stored there, so maybe you can edit them by hand that way? But the presence of the drive implies the presence of an internal USB hub as well. And they couldn't un-bury one port?
- They sell the clip-on tenting legs separately. They are overpriced flimsy junk -- and even though this keyboard is the same shape as every previous Kinesis two-piece keyboard, the Gaming Freestyle Edge is gratuitously incompatible with the tenting legs from the Freestyle2, which was gratuitously incompatible with the tenting legs from the Freestyle. How nice. You can kinda make it work with some zip-ties, but they poke out. Jerks.
- I do prefer the double-height ESC and bottom-row of the Matias, but I can live with it.
- It has a bunch of crazy-assed features I'll never activate except accidentally, like the ability to throb the backlight or quickly switch to EBCDIC or Esperanto or some shit.
So can anyone tell me where to buy replacement keycaps for this that say "Opt" and "⌘" to replace the Win/Alt keys? It's the principle of the thing. The caps appear to be standard sizes, but they have cut-outs for the backlight. I wrote Kinesis asking but they didn't write back.