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My Ergodox Experience: The Best Keyboard I've Used

I spend a lot of my life at my computer, for work and pleasure, so my keyboard matters.

So I bought an Ergodox and I love it.

What’s an Ergodox?

The Ergodox is a mechanical keyboard with split design, ortholinear layout (the keys are in a regular grid rather than offset as on conventional keyboards) and highly customisable firmware.

I followed along as George Hickman assembled his and was keen, but didn’t fancy the idea of assembling my own. Then Tom Nemec introduced me to the Ergodox EZ, a pre-built version – problem solved!

What’s it like to use?

The Ergodox definitely took some getting used to at first! It didn’t help that in 25 years I’d never learned to touch-type, and had ordered it with blank key-caps…

With practice and the aid of gtypist this was rectified, and now I absolutely love it.

I definitely under-use the thumb cluster, and my layout could almost certainly be more ergonomic, but my hands feel happier, I feel like I type faster, and everything just generally feels better.

How to get one?

If you’re hardcore, you can assemble your own

I’m not, so I bought mine from Ergodox EZ.

I bought the black model, with the wrist rests and tilt/tent kit – I didn’t expect to use it, but I like having mine slightly tilted outwards.

I got Gateron Brown switches – Cherry MX Browns seemed to be the general “if you don’t know what you want then get these” option, and at the time only Gaterons were available – and I got the blank keycaps.

Blank keycaps were a deliberate tradeoff – it was “blank and sculpted” or “printed and uniform” – the former having a different shape for each row with improved ergonomics, and I figured it would be a good incentive to learn to touch-type!

What layout?

I’m using a layout somewhat customised from the Ergodox default, but more like a conventional ISO QWERTY keyboard.

Notable differences include:

  • Esc, Tab, Ctrl, Alt, Cmd, Enter and Backspace all in positions similar to a conventional ISO QWERTY layout
  • Arrow keys in hjkl layout
  • Layer 2 as my “media” layout

I’m probably losing a lot of the ergonomic benefit with this but it helped me get onboard quickly, and I don’t want to risk losing the ability to use conventional layouts on my laptop / other machines!

George is a little more hardcore than me and compiles his own firmware with some funky configuration

Keycaps

Here’s what my Ergodox looks like now:

It’s a bit of a Franken-keyboard but I like it. I’m a sucker for custom keycaps so I’ve got:

  • Tai Hao Dark Blood alphanumerics
  • Ducklings for Cmd
  • A tigricaps 8-bit skull on F1
  • A zinc Dota 2 keycap on F4
  • Ultra-stylish masking tape for my middle symbol keys so I remember what they are…

I can now touch-type but sometimes for hotkeys or when gaming I wanted to press a single key without having to go via the home row, so printed keycaps were super useful.

So?

It’s not cheap, it’s not easy to get used to, but I definitely found it worthwhile!

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