Author Topic: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features  (Read 1538 times)

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Offline dustball

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Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« on: Sun, 08 October 2017, 09:11:12 »
Hello there, as the topic already says I'm looking for an ergonomic keyboard. However, it is required to fullfill four criteria:

1) No numpad
2) Ergonomic
3) Matrix
4) German layout

No numpad may seem strange, but I don't have a use for it. I want the keyboard for work, and I've only ever used the numpad in games.

The "Truly Ergonomic 229" would have suited me, but it doesn't seem to be in production anymore, and as of a few hours, their website is down as well. The ErgoDox EZ seems like it's going in the right direction, but it is built with an english layout in mind. Although it may still work when customizing the layout.

I'm open for any suggestions, and if there are people using the ErgoDox with a german layout, would like to hear their experience with it as well. While price is somewhat of an issue, I'd rather save up for a good keyboard than settling for a medium one that I won't be happy with in the long run.

Thanks in advance :)

Offline davkol

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 08 October 2017, 09:52:46 »
German layout has nothing to do with the hardware. All those keyboards send the exact same codes according to the USB protocol specification. Labels may be different, but that's a detail that shouldn't matter in the slightest considering how these keyboards are expected to be used.

You should mainly decide, whether you want something fully split, or in a single piece; how many keys you need; what kind of thumb keys; if you're open to DIY; what your budget is like etc.

Offline dustball

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 08 October 2017, 10:08:30 »
As far as I remember, the standard german keyboard has more keys to allow for , and . As for the codes, I agree that it does make no difference. I only included the german bit for the umlauts. However, I assume this is negated in reprogrammable keyboards (or using custom modmaps).

I would prefer fully split, as it feels more comfortable. As for the amount of keys... I think mine has 105, excluding the numpad that makes 88 keys. Although depending on the keyboard, those could be more as well (i.e. TypeMatrix have more, as did the Truly Ergonomic). I'm not really a DIY-guy. While I could make it work, I'd probably not be happy with the result and work on it for days.

The budget is around 200, for anything more expensive I'd have to save for a month or two. It depends on if the keyboard warrants the expenses. I'd rather buy one expensive keyboard that I'll be happy with for years, instead of going around keyboard hopping.

That being said, I was eyeing the Truly Ergonomic (as I said, unavailable now), and currently like the ErgoDox EZ quite a bit, despite it's cost. However, I'd rather hear a few opinions on what else is available instead of going with the "first best thing" that comes along (not saying it is. I am interested in the two named keyboards for quite a while, but there are probably options that would suit me that I haven't seen yet).

Offline TheOtherDave

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 08 October 2017, 11:08:13 »
I very nearly bought a Truely Ergonomic Keyboard a couple years ago, but decided Id rather have a falsely ergonomic one... :D

Or maybe I just liked the idea of building an ergodox infinity more :). Plus, I like that its firmware is open-source. I havent taken advantage of that yet, but its on my todo list.

If I had it to do over again (and I plan to, at some point), I think I might make it completely from scratch; there are a couple things about the thumb clusters that Id like to change a bit, and I wish it had an F-key row). I hear its designed to be pretty severely tented, though, so maybe I should try that before abandoning the niceties of having everything come in a kit.

Overall, though, I love my ergodox.

Offline algernon

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 08 October 2017, 11:38:06 »
The ErgoDox EZ is a wonderful keyboard, and you can get one with blanks, and reprogram the layout to support whatever language you want. The QMK repo has plenty of german layout examples, both QWERTY and others, so you don't even have to come up with a layout yoursef if you don't want to. Worst case, you'll start with one closer to your desires. Both the keyboard and the firmware are solid, I can only recommend it. Been using one at home, another at work for the past year or so, for English, Hungarian, and lots of programming, there's plenty of keys to support these. Mind you, as I write Hungarian less often, I put the Hungarian symbols on a separate layer (layers are a very powerful feature, by the way, though it takes a bit of time to get used to using them).

If you don't want blanks, and would prefer labels, it is possible to buy caps, though they aren't going to be cheap. I just went with blanks.

Offline davkol

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 08 October 2017, 12:43:45 »
As far as I remember, the standard german keyboard has more keys to allow for , and . As for the codes, I agree that it does make no difference. I only included the german bit for the umlauts. However, I assume this is negated in reprogrammable keyboards (or using custom modmaps).
It has only one extra key: between the ones labeled Y (on QWERTZ) and left Shift. The codes are exactly the same otherwise, and it's up to the operating system to interpret them according to a software keymap (if it's set to US QWERTY, you'll get ASCII punctuation; if it's German QWERTZ, you'll get letters with umlauts).

Many of those ergonomic keyboards can enable the extra key in firmware: either you can modify the firmware (ErgoDox), or there's an "international" mode turned on by pressing some combination of keys or toggling a DIP switch or there's always the software custom keymap or remapping script option.

I would prefer fully split, as it feels more comfortable. As for the amount of keys... I think mine has 105, excluding the numpad that makes 88 keys. Although depending on the keyboard, those could be more as well (i.e. TypeMatrix have more, as did the Truly Ergonomic). I'm not really a DIY-guy. While I could make it work, I'd probably not be happy with the result and work on it for days.
That's the central issue, really. Stuff like, do you need the row of function keys? Then ErgoDox is out, for example.

The budget is around 200, for anything more expensive I'd have to save for a month or two. It depends on if the keyboard warrants the expenses. I'd rather buy one expensive keyboard that I'll be happy with for years, instead of going around keyboard hopping.
Make it 300-400 and you can buy an ErgoDox EZ or a Kinesis Advantage 2 right away. Pretty much anything else is going to take more effort, including DIY. That said, you can get a pair of Tipro keypads pretty cheaply in Germany and it goes a long way (look up various Tipro setups at Deskthority).

If you could stay with a standard staggered layout, there's Matias Ergo Pro and possibly Kinesis Freestyle Edge right at the top end of your budget, or Mistel Barocco a bit lower.

Offline dustball

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 08 October 2017, 13:32:26 »
That's the central issue, really. Stuff like, do you need the row of function keys? Then ErgoDox is out, for example.

Barely, and not as a separate row. It's fine if they're on a different layer.

Make it 300-400 and you can buy an ErgoDox EZ or a Kinesis Advantage 2 right away. Pretty much anything else is going to take more effort, including DIY. That said, you can get a pair of Tipro keypads pretty cheaply in Germany and it goes a long way (look up various Tipro setups at Deskthority).

If you could stay with a standard staggered layout, there's Matias Ergo Pro and possibly Kinesis Freestyle Edge right at the top end of your budget, or Mistel Barocco a bit lower.

Staggered ones are pretty much out of the race. I find them weird, and especially when the keyboard is ergonomically formed, I make far more typos with them. The Tipro looks very weird, and I don't think I could get used to this. Though to be sure, I'd have to test them. As for the Kinesis Advantage 2, I assume it takes up the same amount of space as the ErgoDox EZ, when the two parts of the ErgoDox are separated?

To be honest, I was going to buy the Truly Ergonomic today, but alas, sold out. The ErgoDox is a pretty good alternative. However, I wanted to see if there are any other alternatives that I haven't seen yet and that might be more suited.

Offline TheOtherDave

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 08 October 2017, 13:45:53 »
Theyve been sold out for a while... maybe check eBay?

Offline davkol

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 08 October 2017, 15:43:52 »
I'd avoid TECK. It's not fully split, which is the main reason why I wanted it (for lap typing; I already have an ergodox), but it doesn't make much sense, if you want more hand separation or any tenting at all. The main reason, however, is the manufacturer's shady business and keyboard's poor reliability (there are several threads about their debouncing/chatter problems). If you can't get it with proper European warranty from the vendor, I'd say skip it.

Daisychaining two Tipro keypads is the cheapest way to get a split matrix keyboard. It's not really different from all those new DIY matrix keyboards, such as Let's Split, except it has more keys and doesn't really require any DIY effort besides configuration in Tipro's proprietary software for MS Windows. Compared to ErgoDox, the main downsides are: (1) matrix, not columnar layout; (2) no angled thumb clusters, which may or may not matter; (3) configuration through proprietary application instead of open-source firmware.

For an overview of other options, see the list that I've revised on Reddit.

If there's anything from those keyboards that I recommend, it's ErgoDox assembled by FalbaTech (based in Poland) with keycaps bought separately. But it will probably still run you way over 200 in the end, if you want it nice.

Offline algernon

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 09 October 2017, 04:43:47 »
To be honest, I was going to buy the Truly Ergonomic today, but alas, sold out. The ErgoDox is a pretty good alternative. However, I wanted to see if there are any other alternatives that I haven't seen yet and that might be more suited.

There's also the Keyboardio Model 01 coming out shortly, which ticks all your boxes the ErgoDox EZ does, and has a bunch of other goodies.

Offline JohanAR

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 09 October 2017, 11:53:15 »
keeb.io has a couple of alternatives that might suit you. If you're comfortable with using multiple layers and moving enter + backspace (because you need those positions for German alphas) take a look at Nyquist or Iris. Otherwise you have the Viterbi with plenty of keys for whatever you may need. You can pay a bit extra and have them assembled for you if you don't like soldering.

Offline hoggy

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #11 on: Sat, 21 October 2017, 02:26:11 »
Datadesk Smartboard?
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline natas206

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 27 October 2017, 12:35:25 »
Advantage2, German layout (KB600-DE)

https://www.kinesis-ergo.com/shop/advantage2-international-versions/

Link to the default German layout (the keyboard is programmable so you can customize it any way you want (no drivers/software required)):
https://www.kinesis-ergo.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/adv2-de-layout-pc-mode.pdf


Offline zorglups

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Re: Looking for an ergonomic keyboard with very specific features
« Reply #13 on: Tue, 14 November 2017, 16:37:05 »
The "Truly Ergonomic 229" would have suited me, but it doesn't seem to be in production anymore, and as of a few hours, their website is down as well. The ErgoDox EZ seems like it's going in the right direction, but it is built with an english layout in mind. Although it may still work when customizing the layout.

Well... This may be yours ;-)
https://www.reddit.com/r/mechmarket/comments/6zln1g/eubehtruly_ergonomic_keyboard_blank_model_109_w/