I would say that the Kinesis Contoured is vertically staggered. Counting only on the home row, the offsets between index, middle and ring finger is very small, but the offset from the ring finger column to the little finger column is about 40% -- about as much as on flat vertically staggered keyboards.
(courtesy of ergo canada)
It doesn't really look that way to me from the pictures, but I trust another user's first-hand testimony, especially when I still haven't seen one firsthand.
I stand corrected on the Kinesis. It is not a true matrix. The only one currently in production seems to be TypeMatrix. You cannot compare the Kinesis to this keyboard. This keyboard is flat while the Kinesis has key wells. That might explain why Kinesis did not do a true matrix.
Firstly: don't lose heart! There are lots of POS boards (from Access-is, tipro, and cherry) that are "true-matrix" that you may be interested in. Typematrix isn't the only one.
Second: I can indeed compare the two. You raise a good point: the keyboards are different. Still, from what I can see, the Kinesis strives to take into account finger motion, and relative finger length by using keywells and a stagger situated to each finger. While we can contrast these keyboards in the keywell area, we can compare them in many other ways.
In fact, now that I think of it, a large breadth of comparisons can be made.
both are keyboards
both will be programmible
both use cherry MX keyswitches
both use USB cables (is this true for the modern kinesis?)
both are designed for ergonomics to some degree
There are some important contrasts you bright up:
the kinesis has keywells, this is "flat"
the kinesis isn't splittable, this is split.
While these clearly are differences, they do not solely define a keyboard. All similarities can be compared. If there were no contrasting remarks to be made, then it would follow that the two are indistinguishable.
Like I said: I feel that the kinesis doesn't have a "true matrix" (good thing) because it tries to take into account the relative finger lengths. This one does, too (to some extent). Now, I haven't greatly studied ergonomics, but I feel like I'm at least on the right track here.
Edit: cherry G80-1950 http://geekhack.org/showthread.php?23642-eBay-US-Cherry-G80-1950-%28matrix-layout%29http://www.ebay.com/itm/G80-1950PQAXB-CHERRY-COMPACT-MATRIX-KEYBOARD-BEIGE-/180679116605?pt=PCA_Mice_Trackballs&hash=item2a1150873d
5 left at $79/each