Author Topic: Affordable Split Keyboard  (Read 12020 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Mr.Thompson

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
Affordable Split Keyboard
« on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 08:05:31 »
I am using a Kinesis Freestyle for 10 years and now it must be replaced. I replaced the mylar sheets inside more than once, but the springs or whatever are starting to go and it seems the keyboard is just too old.

I would like to buy a Kinesis Advantage, but I can't afford it. :(

So I researched a bit and found that many people like the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard. It's well under $100 and looks decent. I detest Microsoft also and I use Linux, but if the keyboard will work, so I'm willing to try. :)

I realize that the clicking will not be as nice as my Freestyle, but after examining my use, I think that I "bottom out" a lot anyway so that's not a real problem. I think I just need the ergo layout and even though I keep my Freestyle haves a bit farther apart than the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard has theirs, I am guessing I can get used to that. I am trying to put my closer together and it's slightly less comfortable, but that could also be just due to habit.

Also I have no wrist rest my on Freestyle, so anyhow overall, I think the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard will work for me.

Any ideas/feedback before I buy one?

Offline nevin

  • Posts: 914
  • Location: US
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 09:23:32 »
what is your budget?
are you interested in mechanical keyboards?
would you be willing to build a keyboard?

bottoming out.... it's necessary with rubber dome keyboards as you have to squash the contacts together when the key is fully depressed. on mechanical keyboards, the actuation happens much higher up the key travel than rubber domes. you don't have to bottom out to register a keypress, but it doesn't matter if you do bottom out
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline Mr.Thompson

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 09:28:28 »
> what is your budget?

Flexible. I could spend $200 if I thought it was worth it. :)

> are you interested in mechanical keyboards?

I don't know enough to answer you. :(

> would you be willing to build a keyboard?

No, not for me.

> bottoming out.... it's necessary with rubber dome keyboards as you have to squash the contacts together when the key is fully depressed. on mechanical keyboards, the actuation happens much higher up the key travel than rubber domes. you don't have to bottom out to register a keypress, but it doesn't matter if you do bottom out

What I meant is that I think some people have issues with bottoming out, like finger pain perhaps. It seems I anyway bottom out so if that will be necessary with this MS keyboard, that will be fine.

I once (like 15 years ago) had a MS "Natural Ergonomic" keyboard or some such and it was horrible. The keys felt like wet pistachio shells. From what I read, this MS keyboard I am looking at has decent to good switches. I am just not an expert in this matter.

Bottoming out I think is not an issue for me -- what is important is of course at least decent keys and the main thing, I think, is a good layout.

Thanks.

Offline nevin

  • Posts: 914
  • Location: US
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 10:02:58 »
the Microsoft Sculpt is a low profile rubber dome. think of the apple keyboards or any of the other low profile scissor switch style designs (most laptop keyboards). if you're worried about not liking it, i'm sure you could play with one in a store before you bought it. shop around your local electronics stores & see if anyone has them in stock.

prebuilt mechanical ergo boards are going to be a bit more than a kit you have to put together.
- ergodox ez starts at $270. Mechanical, choose your switches, fully programmable, split ortholinear/staggered columns keyboard
- you mentioned the Kinesis Advantage
- looks like there's a mechanical version of the freestyle that's under your budget.
- if you really like the advantages key wells, see if you can find a prebuilt dactyl or dactyl/manuform variant.
- Ultimate Hacking Keyboard comes in at $275
- Mistel Barocco
- Matias Ergo Pro

also check this listing on git
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline ergonaut

  • Posts: 74
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 10:03:42 »
I own the older black version of the MS Sculpt (the one with the external numpad). I used it daily at work until I bought a Kinesis Advantage. I think in terms of ergonomics, it sits firmly in the 'good enough' category, unless you have pretty severe issues with your hands, which doesn't seem to be the case if I read between the lines correctly. The things I didn't like about it are:

staggered rows. If you're coming from the Freestyle, this probably won't be an issue for you; but ever since I got the Advantage, I couldn't go back to using a row-staggered keyboard for any serious amount of time

scissor switches: I strongly prefer so-called mechanical switches now. However, I have to say that the switches in the Sculpt are MUCH nicer than those of regular office-issue rubber dome crapboards

this is ISO-specific, but hitting that tiny left shift key is a pain! Also, while I can generally live with the ISO enter key, I often pressed the insert key by accident, as there is no gap between them and the enter key is very narrow. Both wouldn't be an issue on the ANSI version.

the curvature of the rows makes the outer keys in the top row less reachable than they would be on a regular board

the F-keys are horrible, but maybe not quite as horrible as the ones on my 1st gen Advantage :D

while the space bar is physically split, both halves send the same key code, so there is no way to take advantage of the extra key. Missed opportunity by MS.

Apart from those issues, I really like the board and would recommend it. I'd also recommend to get the older version, as I would consider it more ergonomic (less distance to the mouse).


With all that being said if you can afford it, the mechanical Freestyle successor is a better choice IMO.
« Last Edit: Wed, 02 October 2019, 10:12:54 by ergonaut »

Offline nevin

  • Posts: 914
  • Location: US
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 10:10:49 »
@ergonaut - thanks for your first hand input. this kind of info/comparisons is priceless.
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline ergonaut

  • Posts: 74
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 10:22:37 »
@ergonaut - thanks for your first hand input. this kind of info/comparisons is priceless.

You're welcome writing about keyboards is fun :)

Oh, I also forget to mention some of the good points, so here they come:

the tall bottom row keys feel really good, and I think they allow the thumbs to be a bit more relaxed.

this probably depends on your own hands and fingers, but for me, the position of the keys right next to the spacebar is very good, I never had the feeling that I had to move my thumbs very much to reach them.

the board is very thin and light and can easily be picked up by grabbing into the hole in the middle. This might not matter much in an office, but since I now use it effectively as a kind of extended TV remote, it's very useful. Being wireless also helps in that scenario.

while the two halves don't have much distance between them, the well-chosen degree of inward rotation makes up for that. Together with the slight amount of tenting, the resulting hand position is not that bad at all. Not enough tenting to satisfy a well-known geekhacker, but better than nothing.

it looks cool!

Offline Mr.Thompson

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 10:58:54 »
> With all that being said if you can afford it, the mechanical Freestyle successor is a better choice IMO.

What I do not like about my Freestyle and what I do like about the MS Sculpt is that on an ergo keyboard, the left hand keys should slant to the right, not the left. Freestyle has this wrong and MS has it right... [EDIT]On second that, no they don't. I looked more and just the BGT keys are bigger, but in reality the rest slant the wrong way. :([/EDIT]

> the Microsoft Sculpt is a low profile rubber dome. think of the apple keyboards or any of the other low profile scissor switch style designs (most laptop keyboards). if you're worried about not liking it, i'm sure you could play with one in a store before you bought it.

This issue is the crucial one I think. I see on this image here https://hexus.net/tech/reviews/peripherals/103303-microsoft-sculpt-ergonomic-desktop/ that the keys are indeed very flat, which doesn't look so great.

My wife has an ASUS VivoBook Pro 17, bought just this year. I hate laptops. But are you saying that the keys on the MS Sculpt are similar to her VivoBook? I could type on that a bit and see if it bothers me or not.

I live just South of the Middle of Nowhere and I have no store where I can go and try a keyboard. I mail order everything. :)

[edit]I also note now that the Diverge TM 2 looks like a fine keyboard, and if I get it fully assembled it's still only $168.[/edit]

Thanks!
« Last Edit: Wed, 02 October 2019, 11:03:01 by Mr.Thompson »

Offline nevin

  • Posts: 914
  • Location: US
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 11:51:56 »
MS Sculp, yep. i don't have one but found this video and confirmed. standard scissor switches. so very similar to a lot of laptop keyboards.

Diverge TM 2, i'm not sure what you do, but if you do a lot of shortcuts that typically use function keys "F-keys", i'd suggest getting a split ortho that's 5x7s instead of the 4x6 matrix that the diverge has. if you go with 5x7s you still retain a "normal" number row. (and Fn + number = F-key)

here's the diverge's default layout (it's fully programmable, so you can make it whatever you like but the matrix is small)
227396-0

this is the layout from my keyboard (keeb.io viterbi). split 5x7s, "normal" top number row/F-keys via Fn, as well as a number pad on a layer.
227398-1

before you go head first into these ortho type layouts. spend some time looking at different sizes/layouts and see what you can & can't live with. for me, i didn't want to go any smaller than 5x7s (but that was my preference because i didn't want to have the numbers buried in a layer). look at the default layouts for popular boards like the let's split, the plank, an orthodox, etc... an easy way to to play around with layouts & keymaps is on keyboard layout editor.
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline Mr.Thompson

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 13:09:06 »
Oh my, I hadn't noticed that -- the Diverge TM 2 has no number keys. I can live without Fn keys, might even be better actually, but I need number keys. :)

Offline Mr.Thompson

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 13:27:24 »
Just "discovered" the world of one-handed gaming keyboards. If only they had them for the right hand also, I could buy two and I would be all set... :)

Offline nevin

  • Posts: 914
  • Location: US
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 13:31:50 »
then go with at least a 5x6 grid.

all the keys are actually there, you just need to add a modifier Fn1, Fn2, or raise/lower to get to the layer they are on.
- if you look at my layout. when i hold "raise" all of the blue notations in the upper right corner of the keys are active, so raise + 1 = F1, etc... same goes for the "lower" function key, when i hold "lower" all of the red notations in the lower left corner of the keys are active (...the number pad is active).
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline nevin

  • Posts: 914
  • Location: US
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 13:36:07 »
Just "discovered" the world of one-handed gaming keyboards. If only they had them for the right hand also, I could buy two and I would be all set... :)

you'd think so, but with a setup like that, they don't actually talk to each other, they act as two entirely separate keyboards. so, holding "shift" on one side & hitting "a" on the other side will not give you "A". it will give you "a". Split keyboards talk to each other over serial or i2c over a TRRS cable (a 3.5mm, 4 conductor "headphone" cable).
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline nevin

  • Posts: 914
  • Location: US
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 13:52:11 »
attached is a PDF of the plank's default layout, will give you an idea of what would be possible with the diverge as they are both 4x12 (if you count both halves of the diverge)
* planck-keymap-MD3.pdf (539.61 kB - downloaded 124 times.)
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline Mr.Thompson

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 03 October 2019, 10:38:47 »
Thank you for the feedback. I tried the laptop and I think the membrane keys won't cut it. I guess I'm spoiled now... :)

Offline Mr.Thompson

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #15 on: Thu, 03 October 2019, 12:39:50 »
Just found the X-BOWS keyboard which looks great, but the reviews are mixed it seems....

Offline nevin

  • Posts: 914
  • Location: US
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #16 on: Thu, 03 October 2019, 13:10:49 »
i saw that one (X-Bows), but i thought you were leaning more towards a split board. up to you.
- has a bunch of non-standard keys, seems a little pricey for what it is... an alternate layout TKL (ten key-less...  no number pad)
- if it was half that price i'd consider it. (considering the magicforce 68 is probably about the same build quality & only $40)
- scratch that... it's a little too far left field for me. i find these odd, alternate layouts to be either big hits or big misses. and because you're not seeing rave reviews all over the place, i'm guessing it's the later.
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline Lanrefni

  • Posts: 99
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 03 October 2019, 14:48:09 »
Koolertron has some on Amazon,for the price they look to be pretty good.

Offline Mr.Thompson

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #18 on: Thu, 03 October 2019, 14:59:19 »
Interesting. Looks pretty similar to the Kinesis Freestyle.

Offline nevin

  • Posts: 914
  • Location: US
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #19 on: Thu, 03 October 2019, 15:29:00 »
Keeb.io has lots of great kits. Not hard to build, pick the parts you want. i'd even help or offer to build if you go that way.
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline Lanrefni

  • Posts: 99
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #20 on: Thu, 03 October 2019, 16:12:29 »
Keeb.io has lots of great kits. Not hard to build, pick the parts you want. i'd even help or offer to build if you go that way.

++++ on the great kits,I've built a Levinson,BFO-9000,Laplace,and a Quefrency,all fun and easy to put together. Pro tip- buy the sockets from them so you can socket your Pro Micro,desoldering a Pro Micro when the Micro USB port inevitably tears off is a pain in the butt.

Offline Mr.Thompson

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 04 October 2019, 05:33:39 »
  i'd even help or offer to build if you go that way.

I am emailing you. :)

If my PM fails to arrive, let me know.

Offline Myteethfeelweird

  • Posts: 27
Re: Affordable Split Keyboard
« Reply #22 on: Mon, 13 January 2020, 22:50:43 »
I'd highly recommend the iris from keeb.io they have a 0 solder option for the PCB and you can 3d print the case. Its truly a great keyboard, plus its 100% QMK compatible!!