Let’s start with a little background …
This is not an SEO post. Occasionally I write posts about non-SEO things but they’re pretty rare. In this case, based on all the research I had to put in, I thought it might be handy for others.
Why A New Keyboard To Begin With?
It’s probably worth mentioning why I began my search for a new keyboard to begin with for context.
I have two core physical issues I am trying to deal with. The first is a right shoulder that is endlessly problematic. The humerus on the right is 1.5″ shorter than the left which not only generates it’s own problems in ergonomics but is also the result of damage done to the shoulder joint when I was a kid (pretty sure it was when I fell off a bike, breaking my left arm and apparently damaging my right shoulder).
So … this produced a scenario where I was sit at the following setup:
I used a Goldtouch keyboard and switch the mouse from the right of the keyboard to underneath, which gives the shoulder very little to do as far as moving back-and-forth (that’s a good thing).
I’d used this setup for a good few years (about 7 or 8) but found that the tenting and bottoming out of the keys at this angle (I’m an energetic typer – what can I say) led to strain on the joins of my fingers, especially my right pinky which is responsible for ‘Enter’ing.
And So The Hunt For A New Keyboard Began …
Knowing that my body’s ability to hold up was critical to my work, I started my research for an ideal solution.
Thankfully my ‘kids’ (19 and 21) are gamers with mechanical keyboards and touted the benefits of them to me. I gave one a try … they are right. With a variety of different switches for different applications, one can pretty much find the perfect feel for any given environment.
I went with Cherry MX Brown switches, but more on that later.
I also knew I wanted a split keyboard but also wanted to be able to separate the two halves more than I was able to with the Goldtouch. The Goldtouch is a fine keyboard and was the best available at the time I had last researched them but I still found I had to keep my elbows right to my sides while typing and other issues as noted above.
So the hunt began. The three keyboards I really looked at with consideration were:
I pretty quickly ruled out the Freestyle2 as the tenting options were pretty limited and the layout was not ortholinear. You’ll notice it the other two the keys are above each other rather than angled. This is ortholinear, and makes great sense ergonomically.
Keyboardio was very interesting due to the key layout but in the end the ability to add wrist wrests and the very flexible tenting options as well as the reviews I’d read led me conclude that the Ergodox EZ was the one for me.
The Ergodox EZ site has a tool to guide you through selecting the type of keyboard you want. It’s pretty straight forward. The switches are suggested based on the environment you’ll be using it in, and how you use the keyboard.
Based on what I answered they suggested the Cherry MX Brown switches. I’m not one to want to just take a suggestion like that without knowing why, so I dug a bit deeper into the different switches.
I discovered a great comparison and explanation of the differences on the Hyper Gaming site. It starts with:
The piece goes into great detail as to why you’d pick one over the other. If you’re not sure the switch you want I HIGHLY recommend reading their article. It’s the best explanation I found after quite a bit of looking, and will help you make sure you pick the right one for you.
Ordering My Ergodox EZ
The order process is fairly straight-forward with nothing notable except the fact that the Ergodox EZ keyboards are manufactured to order. That means that when I placed my order, they added it to the list of those to be produced.
I was given a 2 week estimate on manufacture at which time I was to be sent a tracking code. I ordered on the 11th on July, 2019 and on the 15th I was sent the notification that it was shipped.
I was also offered the opportunity to give them my cell number to receive shipping updates by text. I took it.
Here’s what I ordered:
For Canadians: You’ll notice the tax. I was charged HST as the company that makes it is Canadian.
I was notified after the order that I would also be changed HST when it arrived, which I was. I was instructed to send them the confirmation it was paid and they’d refund the HST they had to charge, which they did.
I was warned in some of the articles on the keyboard that my typing speed would decline when I started using it. Below you will find details on what the drop in typing speed looks like and the recovery time.
Shipping And Delivery
I ordered by keyboard on July 11, 2019 and it arrived via UPS on the 17th so far faster than expected.
Freshly unboxed it looks like:
My Typing Speed
On the Goldtouch I was using for years I had the following typing speeds when copying text using the test at https://www.typingtest.com/
When able to look at keyboard – 54 wpm
When not looking at the keyboard – 46 wpm
I don’t have an accurate measure of my typing speed when typing from my head and glancing at the keyboard from time-to-time, but I’d assume it’s roughly in the 70 to 80 wpm range and thanks to spell check it’s pretty fast to deal with what not focusing on the screen produces. 😉
That’s not going to be an easy option with the Ergodox EZ however, so we’ll use 46 as the baseline to first get back to, and then hopefully be able to get to about 65 or 70 over a few months.
One Day In …
I’m still getting used to the key layout and have made about 8 edits to the configurations but I think we’re getting pretty close to the end. Of course – I thought that 3 permutations ago. 😉
My desk currently looks like …
At present my typing speed is a painful 22. Much of this is due to the change in key locations and a few mapping issues that need to be corrected. There are keys I frequently hit by accident in the new layout as I’ve done some amateur mistakes, like mapping the backspace next to one that sends a Ctrl+Atl+Del which then takes me to my mouse to close it.
I expect such issues to get sorted out in the coming few days but be warned – If you’re making the switch … prepare for some frustrations. 🙂
Five Days In …
Alright, so we’re 5 days in and I’ve tweaked the layout 15 times, have moved from 2 layers to 3 and have a sheet where I keep changes that still need to be made. I’m currently testing at about 29 words per minute so some decent gains from just a few days ago but still a long way to go.
One of the biggest challenges is the different key layout as opposed to the location of the keyboards which was to be expected.
Worth noting as well, it’s very comfortable though I’m still adjusting how I position it from time to time.
10 Days In …
10 days in and it’s been a bit since I’ve made any adjustments to the layout. An interesting drawback I discovered yesterday was the nightmare it now is to use a standard layout keyboard. I had to use a staff keyboard whick is also mechanical, I ended up hunting and pecking my way though in misery.
So … your typing speed on a standard layout will plummet. But what of the speed on the Ergodox EZ?
10 days in and my typing speed is now at 40 words per minute. So, we’ve pretty much recovered.
Interestingly, I find that if I can just get lost in the words I type quite fast and that it’s only once I start thinking about where they keys are that I start to slow down.
So basically … stop thinking and you’ll be fine. 🙂
3 Weeks In …
Here we are at day 21.
I’ve applied a few little tweaks to my layout since day 10 but only a couple and just to speed things up a bit.
My typing speed has now fully recovered to the 46 words per minute that it was on my old keyboard, and the ability to map specific keys to more complicated functions boosts my overall time to complete tasks significantly.
I’m likely still not as fast typing from my head as I was previously though I don’t have metrics for that. As a perk, my typos are virtually non-existent so there’s a bright side.
2 Months In …
This will be the last of the typing speed updates as it’s definitely leveled off.
My current typing speed comes in at 47 wpm so slightly above what it was on my old Goldtouch.
Because I didn’t think to create a baseline for it I’m not timing myself when typing from my head but it’s most certainly closer to 60ish.
18 Months In …
I decided to give it one more test after having used the keyboard for 18 months.
My current speed comes in at 49 wpm, so pretty much maintained.
I have no doubt that with the programmable keys capable of putting multi-click combos into single keys reduces many of my more common tasks dramatically, so the benefit it far higher.
Additionally, at this point I have no pain in my shoulder or right pinky-finger as I had with my old keyboard.
Customizing The Ergodox EZ Keys
In total I went through 26 different tweaks to get my keyboard where I wanted it. For anyone wondering, my current configuration which has remained the same for over a year is:
As far as actually editing a layer, it’s as simple as:
Final Words On The ErgoDox EZ
While it does take a bit of getting used to, I’m a big fan.
Is it worth the money? For me it was. My shoulder and pinkie finger are taking less strain and I can definitely feel the difference.
I have ordered some Gateron Silent Black switches from MechanicalKeyboard.com* to replace the MX Brown’s. They feel very similar, but are dramatically quieter and since I am in an office environment it’s well worth the investment and the replacement of keys in this board requires no soldering, just pop out the old and drop in the new.
Something to consider is that you can use multiple key types.
The one big downside, as I mentioned above, is that after getting used to it I had to hunt and peck on a standard layout and still made a large number of typos there due to the significant difference. So now I have to take it with me when I travel.
To Get An Ergodox EZ
I had to update this post specifically because I realized I hadn’t included a link.
If you’re interested in looking into the Ergodox EZ you can find more info on their site which is https://ergodox-ez.com/.
Disclosure: If you see an asterisk beside a link that means we are a member of their affiliate program and will profit in some way should you use the link and purchase a product. We don’t recommend any products or services we wouldn’t or haven’t used and as you can see, we also include products we don’t make a commission off of, like the keyboard itself.