Author Topic: Why the Ergodox is flawed. Kinesis Advantage already solved these problems.  (Read 12469 times)

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Offline localredhead

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I built 2 ergodox's.  I love them, the look, the feel... but typing on them is less than ideal.  They are not as functional as my kinesis advantage.  I love them so much it pains me to acknowledge how bad they are.  One with zealios and one with matias quiet clicks.

The flat profile of the ergodox's cause more strain on the hands because the hands, specifically the pinky, have to stretch to hit the keys they control.  They are not ergonomic if they require me to reach further and strain harder than I would on a 60%.

The thumb cluster on a ergodox is not as usable unless you remove your fingers from the home row.

Others have said the ergodox is better because you have multiple tenting options and can adjust the split to your liking.  TBH, I think this is less of an issue than its made out to be.  I spend more time fidgeting with the spacing to make sure they are symmetrical than I should.  I actually appreciate the fixed split that the kinesis provides.

I think that any ergo keyboard that has a flat profile is going to have the same issues.  The curved profile of the advantage lowers the surface area the fingers have to travel.  Maltron users have the same benefit.

Maltron and Kinesis are better than the ergodox for practical ergonomic reasons.




Offline davkol

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The flat profile of the ergodox's cause more strain on the hands because the hands, specifically the pinky, have to stretch to hit the keys they control.  They are not ergonomic if they require me to reach further and strain harder than I would on a 60%.

The thumb cluster on a ergodox is not as usable unless you remove your fingers from the home row.
Counterpoint: just move your whole hand; OTOH keeping hands stationary means hitting non-home keys at suboptimal angles on a contoured keyboard (i.e., muscles don't work as efficiently).

Others have said the ergodox is better because you have multiple tenting options and can adjust the split to your liking.  TBH, I think this is less of an issue than its made out to be.  I spend more time fidgeting with the spacing to make sure they are symmetrical than I should.  I actually appreciate the fixed split that the kinesis provides.
Counterpoint: one size doesn't fit all; a person with non-average shoulder width or significantly asymmetrical body is gonna have a bad time.

Offline localredhead

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I would argue that the spacing between your hands matters much less than other factors.  I have wide shoulders which is why I gravitated towards ergodox.  Even with wide shoulders I have no problem on something as compressed as an atrius.

Moving my entire hand from the home row is a bit of a counterproductive argument to make. 

The kinesis and maltron keyboards solved placement of the keys for situations where I would be tempted to move my entire hand.  They did this so well that I don't have to strain at all.  The design of these keyboards minimize pinky movement, not exacerbate it like the ergodox does.  One can try to posit that this is my personal experience only, but I disagree.  Less pinky movement is less.. no matter who's hand it is.

Moving my hands completely away from the home row on an ergonomic keyboard is promoting RSI injuries more than it is preventing them.


Offline chuckdee

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I would argue that the spacing between your hands matters much less than other factors.  I have wide shoulders which is why I gravitated towards ergodox.  Even with wide shoulders I have no problem on something as compressed as an atrius.

Moving my entire hand from the home row is a bit of a counterproductive argument to make. 

The kinesis and maltron keyboards solved placement of the keys for situations where I would be tempted to move my entire hand.  They did this so well that I don't have to strain at all.  The design of these keyboards minimize pinky movement, not exacerbate it like the ergodox does.  One can try to posit that this is my personal experience only, but I disagree.  Less pinky movement is less.. no matter who's hand it is.

Moving my hands completely away from the home row on an ergonomic keyboard is promoting RSI injuries more than it is preventing them.

That's the reason that you should evaluate all solutions for your personal use, especially where ergonomics are concerned.  I would say it's flawed for you, rather than it's flawed, and to say otherwise without intensive study of many different users and use cases is precipitous IMO.
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Offline Findecanor

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Pfft. The ErgoDox is flawed for the majority of users. It is not as if people have pointed out these things from the beginning.

Edit: Referring to thumb cluster and too small offset for pinky columns.
« Last Edit: Tue, 07 June 2016, 12:32:29 by Findecanor »
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Online csmertx

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I can see the thumb cluster issue being a universal thing for those with small to medium hands. Lots of people use mice but only a small portion of those people use thumb-operated trackballs.

The Kinesis Advantage is a big waste of space IMO. Not much room in between the haves to place an input device and the thing has nearly the same width as a full-size keyboard with a bit of an ergonomic advantage. If you make a keyboard that is as massive as the Kinesis Advantage why not use some of that vacant space for a normal sized F row?
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Offline vivalarevolución

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I feel like this topic has been discussed once every couple for the past three years.  I am surprised that the things still sell so well, despite the flaws that become apparent after medium term usage.
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Offline phoible

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The Ergodox fits my hands pretty well. My thumbs rest on the thumb cluster quite comfortably with my hands on home row. I can't use the keys at the top of the cluster without moving my hands, but I don't have those mapped to keys I use very much, so it isn't an issue.

In the long term, we will see whether I have any ergonomic issues with the layout. I'm using the Kinesis tenting kit, and it feels pretty comfortable, but maybe something will crop up in the longer term.

Offline davkol

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I would argue that the spacing between your hands matters much less than other factors.  I have wide shoulders which is why I gravitated towards ergodox.  Even with wide shoulders I have no problem on something as compressed as an atrius.
Atreus has a non-trivial angle between its halves. Besides, _slight_ ulnar deviation isn't as bad as radial deviation.

Kinesis Advantage has keywells basically in parallel, and because there's no row stagger (other than height), user's hands ought to come in parallel. However, if ones proportions significantly deviate from the average, one or both of their hands come at an angle. This is especially problematic for those, who are *smaller* or have, say, asymmetrically positioned/rotated shoulders; even more so, considering they're more likely to have weaker hands, thus potentially appreciate other features (low-force switches, hand rests) more.

Moving my entire hand from the home row is a bit of a counterproductive argument to make. 

The kinesis and maltron keyboards solved placement of the keys for situations where I would be tempted to move my entire hand.  They did this so well that I don't have to strain at all.  The design of these keyboards minimize pinky movement, not exacerbate it like the ergodox does.  One can try to posit that this is my personal experience only, but I disagree.  Less pinky movement is less.. no matter who's hand it is.

Moving my hands completely away from the home row on an ergonomic keyboard is promoting RSI injuries more than it is preventing them.
Moving your hands around to perform keystrokes at right angles uses more stronger muscles, as opposed to keeping hands completely stationary and performing keystrokes at various angles.

This is essentially the same as punching in martial arts. You can hit someone/something *in front of you* with the straight punch, but if you try to punch to the side, it'll lack energy, because the muscles are inefficient at that angle and you aren't utilizing with your body weight efficiently.

In practice, it makes sense to find some middle ground. I have sculpted keycaps on my ErgoDox and used the whole hand to press number-row keys on the Kinesis Advantage (at the same time, I avoided the lowest-row keys).

Offline LuX

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Pfft. The ErgoDox is flawed for the majority of users. It is not as if people have pointed out these things from the beginning.
I feel like this topic has been discussed once every couple for the past three years.  I am surprised that the things still sell so well, despite the flaws that become apparent after medium term usage.

Majority according to whom? Thousands of Doxes have been sold (10K is a low estimate). Complainers are the minority, some of whom haven't even used the keyboard and others had different expectancies or just want to customize it further. Keeping your thumb relaxed and straight should be better than curled. Temporarily reaching for a key with your thumb should also be better than your pinky. The split design is far better than cuffed-hands-ANSI/ISO. Purely thinking about the design, the ErgoDox should be better than a traditional keyboard by default, that doesn't mean it's perfect for everyone. Your hands really have to be petite for the thumb cluster to be an actual problem. Remember that your thumbs only need to be on the first main thumb key. Learning how to use something new takes patience and effort. Like reaching for the other thumb keys (hint: hover and move your hand a bit).

Moving my entire hand from the home row is a bit of a counterproductive argument to make.   

The kinesis and maltron keyboards solved placement of the keys for situations where I would be tempted to move my entire hand.  They did this so well that I don't have to strain at all.  The design of these keyboards minimize pinky movement, not exacerbate it like the ergodox does.  One can try to posit that this is my personal experience only, but I disagree.  Less pinky movement is less.. no matter who's hand it is.

Moving my hands completely away from the home row on an ergonomic keyboard is promoting RSI injuries more than it is preventing them.

If you use QWERTY then leaving the home row is the most productive thing you'll be doing anyway.  :cool:
I have never used a kinesis, but I can imagine the ergodox would be better with some sculpting. That would, however, make it more expensive and limit availability. I don't like how bulky the kinesis looks and takes away the center from other uses and the split isn't independent. I don't use the bottom row pinky keys anyway, instead I have placed all the keys I need to places more reachable. That's the beauty of programmability. Perhaps the Kinesis is better, I cannot deny that. But if you feel strained then you must be doing something wrong. Consciously using as few muscles as possible is precisely what would cause RSI to begin with because you put all the effort of a movement on just a couple of muscles, while at the same time try to resist the natural movement of other fingers. Hovering is the keyword.

What has caught my eyes is this project on DT: https://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/designing-a-custom-topre-board-t11734.html
Looks like a widely adjustable ergodox, I don't care so much about Topre, but the thing looks interesting.


Online csmertx

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Pfft. The ErgoDox is flawed for the majority of users. It is not as if people have pointed out these things from the beginning.
I feel like this topic has been discussed once every couple for the past three years.  I am surprised that the things still sell so well, despite the flaws that become apparent after medium term usage.

Majority according to whom? Thousands of Doxes have been sold (10K is a low estimate). Complainers are the minority, some of whom haven't even used the keyboard and others had different expectancies or just want to customize it further. Keeping your thumb relaxed and straight should be better than curled. Temporarily reaching for a key with your thumb should also be better than your pinky. The split design is far better than cuffed-hands-ANSI/ISO. Purely thinking about the design, the ErgoDox should be better than a traditional keyboard by default, that doesn't mean it's perfect for everyone. Your hands really have to be petite for the thumb cluster to be an actual problem. Remember that your thumbs only need to be on the first main thumb key. Learning how to use something new takes patience and effort. Like reaching for the other thumb keys (hint: hover and move your hand a bit).

Moving my entire hand from the home row is a bit of a counterproductive argument to make.   

The kinesis and maltron keyboards solved placement of the keys for situations where I would be tempted to move my entire hand.  They did this so well that I don't have to strain at all.  The design of these keyboards minimize pinky movement, not exacerbate it like the ergodox does.  One can try to posit that this is my personal experience only, but I disagree.  Less pinky movement is less.. no matter who's hand it is.

Moving my hands completely away from the home row on an ergonomic keyboard is promoting RSI injuries more than it is preventing them.

If you use QWERTY then leaving the home row is the most productive thing you'll be doing anyway.  :cool:
I have never used a kinesis, but I can imagine the ergodox would be better with some sculpting. That would, however, make it more expensive and limit availability. I don't like how bulky the kinesis looks and takes away the center from other uses and the split isn't independent. I don't use the bottom row pinky keys anyway, instead I have placed all the keys I need to places more reachable. That's the beauty of programmability. Perhaps the Kinesis is better, I cannot deny that. But if you feel strained then you must be doing something wrong. Consciously using as few muscles as possible is precisely what would cause RSI to begin with because you put all the effort of a movement on just a couple of muscles, while at the same time try to resist the natural movement of other fingers. Hovering is the keyword.

What has caught my eyes is this project on DT: https://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/designing-a-custom-topre-board-t11734.html
Looks like a widely adjustable ergodox, I don't care so much about Topre, but the thing looks interesting.
Show Image


I knew I wasn't crazy (mostly), custom Topre is possible :)
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Offline Findecanor

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Thousands of Doxes have been sold (10K is a low estimate).
The ErgoDox has reached its success because it was the only one of its kind, despite its imperfections.
And I wonder how many of those that lay unused ...

The thumb cluster is a known problem. I have very normal hands and can only reach the first key comfortably.

The column offsets are very small in comparison to practically all keyboards with similar layouts that came before it in the '80s and '90s -- keyboards that had been designed using real measurements of people's hands, not just chosen arbitrarily.
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Offline localredhead

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Pfft. The ErgoDox is flawed for the majority of users. It is not as if people have pointed out these things from the beginning.
I feel like this topic has been discussed once every couple for the past three years.  I am surprised that the things still sell so well, despite the flaws that become apparent after medium term usage.

Majority according to whom? Thousands of Doxes have been sold (10K is a low estimate). Complainers are the minority, some of whom haven't even used the keyboard and others had different expectancies or just want to customize it further. Keeping your thumb relaxed and straight should be better than curled. Temporarily reaching for a key with your thumb should also be better than your pinky. The split design is far better than cuffed-hands-ANSI/ISO. Purely thinking about the design, the ErgoDox should be better than a traditional keyboard by default, that doesn't mean it's perfect for everyone. Your hands really have to be petite for the thumb cluster to be an actual problem. Remember that your thumbs only need to be on the first main thumb key. Learning how to use something new takes patience and effort. Like reaching for the other thumb keys (hint: hover and move your hand a bit).

Moving my entire hand from the home row is a bit of a counterproductive argument to make.   

The kinesis and maltron keyboards solved placement of the keys for situations where I would be tempted to move my entire hand.  They did this so well that I don't have to strain at all.  The design of these keyboards minimize pinky movement, not exacerbate it like the ergodox does.  One can try to posit that this is my personal experience only, but I disagree.  Less pinky movement is less.. no matter who's hand it is.

Moving my hands completely away from the home row on an ergonomic keyboard is promoting RSI injuries more than it is preventing them.

If you use QWERTY then leaving the home row is the most productive thing you'll be doing anyway.  :cool:
I have never used a kinesis, but I can imagine the ergodox would be better with some sculpting. That would, however, make it more expensive and limit availability. I don't like how bulky the kinesis looks and takes away the center from other uses and the split isn't independent. I don't use the bottom row pinky keys anyway, instead I have placed all the keys I need to places more reachable. That's the beauty of programmability. Perhaps the Kinesis is better, I cannot deny that. But if you feel strained then you must be doing something wrong. Consciously using as few muscles as possible is precisely what would cause RSI to begin with because you put all the effort of a movement on just a couple of muscles, while at the same time try to resist the natural movement of other fingers. Hovering is the keyword.

What has caught my eyes is this project on DT: https://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/designing-a-custom-topre-board-t11734.html
Looks like a widely adjustable ergodox, I don't care so much about Topre, but the thing looks interesting.
Show Image


I knew I wasn't crazy (mostly), custom Topre is possible :)

Now that is a solution I'd buy.

That image shows what the ergodox is missing.  The curved key-wells reduce the surface area of the functional part of the keyboard so that you do not have to strain to type.  The ergodox reverses this by increasing the surface area of the key-wells, causing fingers to strain and fully extend for the same keypress.

This being an ergonomics forum I'm less inclined to listen to criticism about "footprint" of the kinesis.  Ergodox's still take up a ridiculous amount of desk space when you add in the wrist-rests, tenting and sub-optimal split-width's that seem so popular.  They are not "compact" keyboards. 



Offline davkol

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ErgoDox is actually portable. You can put it in a shoe case and carry around. It fits in a typical laptop backpack. Good luck with that, if you try to carry Kinesis Advantage.

Online csmertx

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Pfft. The ErgoDox is flawed for the majority of users. It is not as if people have pointed out these things from the beginning.
I feel like this topic has been discussed once every couple for the past three years.  I am surprised that the things still sell so well, despite the flaws that become apparent after medium term usage.

Majority according to whom? Thousands of Doxes have been sold (10K is a low estimate). Complainers are the minority, some of whom haven't even used the keyboard and others had different expectancies or just want to customize it further. Keeping your thumb relaxed and straight should be better than curled. Temporarily reaching for a key with your thumb should also be better than your pinky. The split design is far better than cuffed-hands-ANSI/ISO. Purely thinking about the design, the ErgoDox should be better than a traditional keyboard by default, that doesn't mean it's perfect for everyone. Your hands really have to be petite for the thumb cluster to be an actual problem. Remember that your thumbs only need to be on the first main thumb key. Learning how to use something new takes patience and effort. Like reaching for the other thumb keys (hint: hover and move your hand a bit).

Moving my entire hand from the home row is a bit of a counterproductive argument to make.   

The kinesis and maltron keyboards solved placement of the keys for situations where I would be tempted to move my entire hand.  They did this so well that I don't have to strain at all.  The design of these keyboards minimize pinky movement, not exacerbate it like the ergodox does.  One can try to posit that this is my personal experience only, but I disagree.  Less pinky movement is less.. no matter who's hand it is.

Moving my hands completely away from the home row on an ergonomic keyboard is promoting RSI injuries more than it is preventing them.

If you use QWERTY then leaving the home row is the most productive thing you'll be doing anyway.  :cool:
I have never used a kinesis, but I can imagine the ergodox would be better with some sculpting. That would, however, make it more expensive and limit availability. I don't like how bulky the kinesis looks and takes away the center from other uses and the split isn't independent. I don't use the bottom row pinky keys anyway, instead I have placed all the keys I need to places more reachable. That's the beauty of programmability. Perhaps the Kinesis is better, I cannot deny that. But if you feel strained then you must be doing something wrong. Consciously using as few muscles as possible is precisely what would cause RSI to begin with because you put all the effort of a movement on just a couple of muscles, while at the same time try to resist the natural movement of other fingers. Hovering is the keyword.

What has caught my eyes is this project on DT: https://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/designing-a-custom-topre-board-t11734.html
Looks like a widely adjustable ergodox, I don't care so much about Topre, but the thing looks interesting.
Show Image


I knew I wasn't crazy (mostly), custom Topre is possible :)

Now that is a solution I'd buy.

That image shows what the ergodox is missing.  The curved key-wells reduce the surface area of the functional part of the keyboard so that you do not have to strain to type.  The ergodox reverses this by increasing the surface area of the key-wells, causing fingers to strain and fully extend for the same keypress.

This being an ergonomics forum I'm less inclined to listen to criticism about "footprint" of the kinesis.  Ergodox's still take up a ridiculous amount of desk space when you add in the wrist-rests, tenting and sub-optimal split-width's that seem so popular.  They are not "compact" keyboards.

At least Ergodox users don't have to look at all that wasted space. ;)

Seriously though, I'd love to see more of that Ergodox like Topre build
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Offline LuX

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The ErgoDox has reached its success because it was the only one of its kind, despite its imperfections.
And I wonder how many of those that lay unused ...

The thumb cluster is a known problem. I have very normal hands and can only reach the first key comfortably.

The column offsets are very small in comparison to practically all keyboards with similar layouts that came before it in the '80s and '90s -- keyboards that had been designed using real measurements of people's hands, not just chosen arbitrarily.

There have been split keyboards before. I think it's popularity has more to do with the fact that it's relatively easy to make, doesn't require big expensive machines etc. it came at a more affordable price than other ergo keyboards at the time. It's open source, and the community could actively participate in the experience making it popular.

I'm not saying the thumb cluster couldn't be better, but I think most people are making it a much bigger problem then it should be. I mean, on a standard keyboard both thumbs are dedicated to a single key and that's it. How ridiculous is that? You'd laugh at the designer of the spacebar if that wasn't the standard already. The ErgoDox gives you two easy to reach keys, and somehow that makes it worse? The secondary thumb key can't possibly be that hard to reach either, and you don't have to press it all the time anyway. The rest can also be easily pressed if you would just move your hand. Again, it's much less of a travel and less stain than it would be on a traditional keyboard. Or are all the keys magically easier to reach there? I don't thinks so.
If you pessimistically look at EDox's flaws, then yes, it has flaws, but compare it to a traditional keyboard for a change.

The offset is a good compromise. It could be more, but I wouldn't be too sure if it would be much better in the end. If your fingers come down on the keyboard at an aggressive angle, as they should for the most strength, the offset is actually just perfect. Only if you rest your hands way too back and flat down is the offset bad. I think the offset is pretty well designed for the floating position. I also think that the more linear layout makes it easier to wrap around your brain. In the end, is it not better than no offset at all?

Now that is a solution I'd buy.

That image shows what the ergodox is missing.  The curved key-wells reduce the surface area of the functional part of the keyboard so that you do not have to strain to type.  The ergodox reverses this by increasing the surface area of the key-wells, causing fingers to strain and fully extend for the same keypress.

This being an ergonomics forum I'm less inclined to listen to criticism about "footprint" of the kinesis.  Ergodox's still take up a ridiculous amount of desk space when you add in the wrist-rests, tenting and sub-optimal split-width's that seem so popular.  They are not "compact" keyboards. 

I can imagine a contoured keyboard would be better. I think it's an issue about manufacturing. Couple years back making something yourself wasn't as easy and cheap as it is now with 3D printers etc. If you want a contoured keyboard you either buy something like the Kinesis or make one yourself. Neither option is optimal for me. At the same time floating your hands reduces the problem caused by flatness significantly.

I agree that appearance shouldn't matter, but the footprint of the keyboard is a valid argument. The Kinesis isn't nearly as portable due to it's size, the ErgoDox isn't much different from a traditional keyboard when it comes to size, and you can fold it anyway. Tenting the Dox would make it take less desk space as well. I also like having my mouse, or some other object occasionally in between the halves, which is an ergonomic concern.

Offline localredhead

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I can imagine a contoured keyboard would be better. I think it's an issue about manufacturing. Couple years back making something yourself wasn't as easy and cheap as it is now with 3D printers etc. If you want a contoured keyboard you either buy something like the Kinesis or make one yourself. Neither option is optimal for me. At the same time floating your hands reduces the problem caused by flatness significantly.

I agree that appearance shouldn't matter, but the footprint of the keyboard is a valid argument. The Kinesis isn't nearly as portable due to it's size, the ErgoDox isn't much different from a traditional keyboard when it comes to size, and you can fold it anyway. Tenting the Dox would make it take less desk space as well. I also like having my mouse, or some other object occasionally in between the halves, which is an ergonomic concern.

I use a messenger bag.  My ergodox doesn't fit in the bag so I have to carry it (in its own case). 

The kinesis has somewhat of a "handle" on it if you hold it from the top, and I've had no issues going to work and back with my keyboard on public transport (bus and trains).  The kinesis is easier to transport because it has a handle which is an ergonomic concern  :thumb:.

You can put a number of different mice (trackpad and trackballs) in the middle of a kinesis.  With a little velcro it works nice  :cool:

I don't know what you mean by "floating" but I take it to mean something different than not resting your wrists while typing.. I take it to mean like you treat your keyboard like a piano and just float your hands over top of your keyboard striking keys and not resting them on the home row?
« Last Edit: Tue, 07 June 2016, 21:28:59 by localredhead »

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I can imagine a contoured keyboard would be better. I think it's an issue about manufacturing. Couple years back making something yourself wasn't as easy and cheap as it is now with 3D printers etc. If you want a contoured keyboard you either buy something like the Kinesis or make one yourself. Neither option is optimal for me. At the same time floating your hands reduces the problem caused by flatness significantly.

I agree that appearance shouldn't matter, but the footprint of the keyboard is a valid argument. The Kinesis isn't nearly as portable due to it's size, the ErgoDox isn't much different from a traditional keyboard when it comes to size, and you can fold it anyway. Tenting the Dox would make it take less desk space as well. I also like having my mouse, or some other object occasionally in between the halves, which is an ergonomic concern.

I use a messenger bag.  My ergodox doesn't fit in the bag so I have to carry it (in its own case). 

The kinesis has somewhat of a "handle" on it if you hold it from the top, and I've had no issues going to work and back with my keyboard on public transport (bus and trains).  The kinesis is easier to transport because it has a handle which is an ergonomic concern  :thumb:.

You can put a number of different mice (trackpad and trackballs) in the middle of a kinesis.  With a little velcro it works nice  :cool:

I don't know what you mean by "floating" but I take it to mean something different than not resting your wrists while typing.. I take it to mean like you treat your keyboard like a piano and just float your hands over top of your keyboard striking keys and not resting them on the home row?

During my freshman year of high school I was taught to float my hands over the keyboard, and keep my wrists straight in typing class. We lost points during typing tests if we used the wrist rests while typing. I think that is what LuX is talking about; resting your wrists while typing supposedly causes unnecessary strain. Velcro huh? :confused:
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Offline localredhead

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During my freshman year of high school I was taught to float my hands over the keyboard, and keep my wrists straight in typing class. We lost points during typing tests if we used the wrist rests while typing. I think that is what LuX is talking about; resting your wrists while typing supposedly causes unnecessary strain. Velcro huh? :confused:

This is how I type.  For me, that does not alleviate the strain that I feel when using an ergodox for the reasons I stated previously.

The only way I can imagine reducing the strain would be to move my hand so my finger can reach easier, which I thought was described as "floating", but I was looking for clarification because that is different that what you said.

I meant specifically velcro-tape http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0013AIAQ2?psc=1 .  I did this for a long time with a magic trackpad, and the velcro held it good enough that I never noticed it moving.  I could have easily transported it like this too without fear of the trackpad falling off in transit.

If tenting seems to be the solution for ergodox's I'll give it a try - but carrying around my tenting solution, my graffiti wrist rests, and my ergodox halves is starting to look a lot less portable than a simple kinesis advantage.


« Last Edit: Tue, 07 June 2016, 22:22:27 by localredhead »

Online csmertx

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During my freshman year of high school I was taught to float my hands over the keyboard, and keep my wrists straight in typing class. We lost points during typing tests if we used the wrist rests while typing. I think that is what LuX is talking about; resting your wrists while typing supposedly causes unnecessary strain. Velcro huh? :confused:

This is how I type.  For me, that does not alleviate the strain that I feel when using an ergodox for the reasons I stated previously.

The only way I can imagine reducing the strain would be to move my hand so my finger can reach easier, which I thought was described as "floating", but I was looking for clarification because that is different that what you said.

I meant specifically velcro-tape http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0013AIAQ2?psc=1 .  I did this for a long time with a magic trackpad, and the velcro held it good enough that I never noticed it moving.  I could have easily transported it like this too without fear of the trackpad falling off in transit.

If tenting seems to be the solution for ergodox's I'll give it a try - but carrying around my tenting solution, my graffiti wrist rests, and my ergodox halves is starting to look a lot less portable than a simple kinesis advantage.

Ohhh, ok. The velcro tape is for a trackpad. That whole tenting with Kinesis tenting makes the Ergodox EZ looks so appealing imo. I'm tempted to try to create a case that will accept (more angle perhaps) a similar tenting solution. The parts shouldn't be that hard to find I think. :confused:
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Offline jacobolus

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First, a question: what keycaps are you using on the Ergodox? If you use a sculpted profile like e.g. DCS (not SA or DSA), I think you’ll have a much better experience. It can be an even better experience to mix and match keycaps from different profiles, e.g. putting extra-tall keycaps on the further 1u thumb keys.

Second, how do you have it arranged? I recommend tenting it at least 20° (my preference is more like 45°), as well as turning the two halves inward a bit. How’s the rest of your chair/desk setup? If you take a picture (or better, a video) showing yourself typing, people might be able to offer some advice.

But the Ergodox is certainly not perfect. I started a thread here about improving the thumb section https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=62848.0 and made some prototypes, e.g.:


* * *

My personal opinion is that the Maltron is the best “curved keywell” design, much better executed than the Kinesis (but also much more expensive to produce), but also that the concept of the curved keywell with differently angled switches is fundamentally flawed. (e.g. I think the project LuX linked, vvp’s thing, the dactyl, etc. are all substantially misguided.)

My opinion is that you want to have fairly dramatic vertical separation between keys in different rows, but not have the angle of the key axis change. I find pressing the top row keys, and especially keys in the top corners, very awkward on the Kinesis.

Keycaps alone are usually not aggressively sculpted enough to get quite the vertical step that I think is ideal, so I’d advocate having switches in further-away rows mounted higher, but not tilted differently than the home row keys. There can also be a significant advantage in having the middle-finger column lowered and the pinky finger columns raised compared to other columns of keys. This is hard to accomplish with a flat plate+pcb. Finally, carefully positioning and angling the thumb keys can make a big improvement compared to a flat design, though a design is still somewhat workable if you get the layout right (and the Ergodox does not in my opinion).

For me, the ideal would be to have a keyboard case/plate made out of a milled block of wood or metal, with different switches at different heights, hand-wired at the back. I’d then potentially use a uniform keycap shape to facilitate reordering the keycaps to support any arbitrary logical arrangement (or potentially still use sculpted caps, but with the milled plate/case taking the keycap shape into account). The ideal keycaps would be somewhat smaller than the standard ones, (a) so that they could be arranged in slightly differently angled columns without running into each-other at the near side, and (b) so the rows could be spaced a bit closer together. An aggressive column-oriented stagger helps reduce the minimum usable keytop size compared to standard row-staggered keyboards, but someone with very large hands (let’s say hands larger than 90% of men) might prefer the current keycap size though.
« Last Edit: Wed, 08 June 2016, 00:52:52 by jacobolus »

Offline LuX

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I use a messenger bag.  My ergodox doesn't fit in the bag so I have to carry it (in its own case).

I used to have a messenger as well, until it broke and I got a backpack again. It's so much better ergonomically and you can carry a lot more with you. Investing in a proper back-supported backpack feels like heaven after years with a messenger. A messenger bag will only damage your back in the long run. Appearance doesn't matter anyway, right?

This is how I type.  For me, that does not alleviate the strain that I feel when using an ergodox for the reasons I stated previously.

The only way I can imagine reducing the strain would be to move my hand so my finger can reach easier, which I thought was described as "floating", but I was looking for clarification because that is different that what you said.

When you type, do you anchor your fingers to the homerow, or do you allow them to float and move without restriction as you type? You can "rest" your fingers on the homerow to get a good reference of their position, but when you reach to press for a key, try to keep your hand as relaxed as possible, do all the movements that it takes to reach that key easier, don't be afraid to lift your fingers from the homerow. Using more muscles to move around isn't always a bad thing to do. I personally found that not restricting any natural movement makes me type faster and feels much better, even though that means using more muscles and more movement.

It makes sense as well. If you extend your arm out 90°, then do tiny circular motion with your fingertips, that will strain you arm really quickly. But if you do a much larger circle and perhaps even open and close your hand as you do that, it takes much longer before you feel strained.

If tenting seems to be the solution for ergodox's I'll give it a try - but carrying around my tenting solution, my graffiti wrist rests, and my ergodox halves is starting to look a lot less portable than a simple kinesis advantage.

I made my ED tent out of a shoebox. Basically just cut two wedges out from it, about 15cm wide, 8cm tall. I've thought about making a better tent, but this works and I'm lazy. Also, if the box were designed properly, it could double as a carry case, just flip the wedges over and place the keyboard inside with some padding, then close the wedges together to form a box.
I've intentionally left out my wrist rests from the tent, to remove the temptation of wresting my wrists on them while I type. If I need to rest my hands they can rest on my lap or hang to the side.

Offline davkol

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At least Ergodox users don't have to look at all that wasted space. ;)
I didn't look at that wasted space back when I had my Kinesis Advantage, but that middle part could have been flat, if nothing else. I have no idea, who thought it was a good idea to make it curved, so that you couldn't really put anything solid there without using duct tape.

Offline localredhead

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At least Ergodox users don't have to look at all that wasted space. ;)
I didn't look at that wasted space back when I had my Kinesis Advantage, but that middle part could have been flat, if nothing else. I have no idea, who thought it was a good idea to make it curved, so that you couldn't really put anything solid there without using duct tape.

Very true.  I thought this myself many times.

Offline localredhead

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First, a question: what keycaps are you using on the Ergodox? If you use a sculpted profile like e.g. DCS (not SA or DSA), I think you’ll have a much better experience. It can be an even better experience to mix and match keycaps from different profiles, e.g. putting extra-tall keycaps on the further 1u thumb keys.

Second, how do you have it arranged? I recommend tenting it at least 20° (my preference is more like 45°), as well as turning the two halves inward a bit. How’s the rest of your chair/desk setup? If you take a picture (or better, a video) showing yourself typing, people might be able to offer some advice.

But the Ergodox is certainly not perfect. I started a thread here about improving the thumb section https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=62848.0 and made some prototypes, e.g.:
Show Image


* * *

My personal opinion is that the Maltron is the best “curved keywell” design, much better executed than the Kinesis (but also much more expensive to produce), but also that the concept of the curved keywell with differently angled switches is fundamentally flawed. (e.g. I think the project LuX linked, vvp’s thing, the dactyl, etc. are all substantially misguided.)

My opinion is that you want to have fairly dramatic vertical separation between keys in different rows, but not have the angle of the key axis change. I find pressing the top row keys, and especially keys in the top corners, very awkward on the Kinesis.

Keycaps alone are usually not aggressively sculpted enough to get quite the vertical step that I think is ideal, so I’d advocate having switches in further-away rows mounted higher, but not tilted differently than the home row keys. There can also be a significant advantage in having the middle-finger column lowered and the pinky finger columns raised compared to other columns of keys. This is hard to accomplish with a flat plate+pcb. Finally, carefully positioning and angling the thumb keys can make a big improvement compared to a flat design, though a design is still somewhat workable if you get the layout right (and the Ergodox does not in my opinion).

For me, the ideal would be to have a keyboard case/plate made out of a milled block of wood or metal, with different switches at different heights, hand-wired at the back. I’d then potentially use a uniform keycap shape to facilitate reordering the keycaps to support any arbitrary logical arrangement (or potentially still use sculpted caps, but with the milled plate/case taking the keycap shape into account). The ideal keycaps would be somewhat smaller than the standard ones, (a) so that they could be arranged in slightly differently angled columns without running into each-other at the near side, and (b) so the rows could be spaced a bit closer together. An aggressive column-oriented stagger helps reduce the minimum usable keytop size compared to standard row-staggered keyboards, but someone with very large hands (let’s say hands larger than 90% of men) might prefer the current keycap size though.

I agree 100% about the keycaps making a big difference.  I built one ergodox with MTQS switches using DCS and I built my other with zealios switches with DSA keycaps.

The typing experience on the DCS switches is much much better.  I actually don't like to tent my keyboard so I need to find a good tenting solution.  When I do I'll post a pic. 

Right now the only pictures I have are of the flat typing experience.  I have tried angling them inward which does improve things but only somewhat.

I think at the end of they day if I was not a hard core emacs user that I'd have less issue with the ergodox thumbcluster, but as it is now I need every single key on that keyboard and those are hard to hit no matter how I adjust it right now.

I'm off to craft some tenting options that take into consideration the 2 datamancer wood cases I ordered for my dox's.




Offline localredhead

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I left the paper on the acrylic because I just liked the way it looked :)

  zoomed out.

  glamour shot of the dolche's on my ergodox MTQS.

I don't have any photo's/vid of me using them yet.  I'll get those up with tenting options when I settle on a good tenting solution.
« Last Edit: Wed, 08 June 2016, 15:10:57 by localredhead »

Offline localredhead

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When you type, do you anchor your fingers to the homerow, or do you allow them to float and move without restriction as you type? You can "rest" your fingers on the homerow to get a good reference of their position, but when you reach to press for a key, try to keep your hand as relaxed as possible, do all the movements that it takes to reach that key easier, don't be afraid to lift your fingers from the homerow. Using more muscles to move around isn't always a bad thing to do. I personally found that not restricting any natural movement makes me type faster and feels much better, even though that means using more muscles and more movement.

It makes sense as well. If you extend your arm out 90°, then do tiny circular motion with your fingertips, that will strain you arm really quickly. But if you do a much larger circle and perhaps even open and close your hand as you do that, it takes much longer before you feel strained.

If tenting seems to be the solution for ergodox's I'll give it a try - but carrying around my tenting solution, my graffiti wrist rests, and my ergodox halves is starting to look a lot less portable than a simple kinesis advantage.

I made my ED tent out of a shoebox. Basically just cut two wedges out from it, about 15cm wide, 8cm tall. I've thought about making a better tent, but this works and I'm lazy. Also, if the box were designed properly, it could double as a carry case, just flip the wedges over and place the keyboard inside with some padding, then close the wedges together to form a box.
I've intentionally left out my wrist rests from the tent, to remove the temptation of wresting my wrists on them while I type. If I need to rest my hands they can rest on my lap or hang to the side.

I reach for a key with an individual finger while my other fingers fight to maintain some physical contact with the home row.  By physical contact I mean, letting the finger relax and naturally fall on the home row key until I engage the finger to strike.

It will take me some time to implement your suggestions.  Especially with relaxing and just letting my hand move to the key as needed instead of moving my finger the entire distance.  The only way I can describe how it feels to try to type like this is for me to try and sign my name left-handed (i'm right handed).  Hopefully I won't have to think about it in a week.

Offline jacobolus

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So, with your keyboard placed that far into the desk, you need to reach your arms a fair amount forward to type. This then puts a bunch of strain on your upper arms and shoulders from holding your arms up, so you need to rest your palms on the palmrest to give your shoulders a break.

It’s not my personal cup of tea, but a lot of people type like this for years without too much problem. And some people type like that and get serious RSI.

If you’re finding you experience strain though, I recommend you experiment with bringing the keyboard near to the edge of the table and ditching the palmrest. Try to adjust your desk and chair such that when you put your fingers on the home row with your wrists straight, your forearms are parallel to the keyboard top. (If they aren’t parallel, the solution is either to lower the desk and/or raise the chair, or to tilt the keyboard up at the far side.)

I’d also recommend lowering your displays by several inches and tilting them upward slightly. YMMV.

If you decide you really like resting your palms while typing, I recommend raising the palmrest by at least half an inch, so you can keep your wrists straighter while doing so.
« Last Edit: Wed, 08 June 2016, 15:39:32 by jacobolus »

Offline LuX

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I reach for a key with an individual finger while my other fingers fight to maintain some physical contact with the home row.  By physical contact I mean, letting the finger relax and naturally fall on the home row key until I engage the finger to strike.

It will take me some time to implement your suggestions.  Especially with relaxing and just letting my hand move to the key as needed instead of moving my finger the entire distance.  The only way I can describe how it feels to try to type like this is for me to try and sign my name left-handed (i'm right handed).  Hopefully I won't have to think about it in a week.

Yes, I figured that is the biggest problem people do when they complain about stretching or reaching for keys. It will take a little effort and relearning muscle memory to some extent, but it's not hard and definitely worth it in the end. The better you know your keyboard layout, the easier it will be. Best way to practice is to simply keep your fingers in the air so they have nothing to hold onto. Typing a lot of speed test will also help develop a proper techinque, so that you won't over-complicate the movements. The point isn't to slow you down, but to make your typing more dynamic and fluid, which in turn is faster and less straining.

Offline AKmalamute

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I have an interesting experience regarding tenting an ergodox.

I've also found keycaps to be fundamental to using it correctly. When I first assembled it, I used DCS caps and it was okay. Then my SA CalmDepths set came in and it looked really pretty but I couldn't find the home row, typing was slowed to roughly 10wpm ... no pain I guess but I hated it.
Then my Cherry PBT set came in and wow! Typing is fun, again.

So, tenting. At work, I've got a Graffiti TKL fat-boy, or whatever they call it. It's as tall as the keyboard. When I'm using the TKL, it's a wrist-rest, but when I bring in my 'dox, it's the tent.
I move the trackball to between and below the halves, which are probably 25d or so but whatever will remain stable while sitting on the edge of the fatboy, and the width & angle work perfectly.

At home, I don't think tenting would be right. It's flat, and while I could wish for a few degrees of rotation ( to make the number row into an angry face, not into a caret ^ ) it's' fine the way it is, usually.

The surface at home is the plate from a fullsized, large-key ALPS cheap keyboard. I lay the plate on my lap, and the screws that hold the 'dox case together "catch" in the empty switch holes at their farthes distances. I think my middle finger is immediately over my legbones, home row is at most three inches shy of the middle of my knee cap.

 The difference is elbow angle, I think. At home my hands are below my elbows, and still floating above the keys (chair armrests acting as impromptu wrist-rests, actually.) At work, the desk is somewhere above my navel and below my sternum. My hands are definitely above my elbows, and that changes what I need to do with the keyboard to be comfortable.

I've said this elsewhere, but I don't personally have much of an issue with the thumb buttons -- acknowledging there are only three accessible on each side (the 2x ones, and the lower-inner one) I could wish for more stagger for the pinky, but the reason this is so popular, is because it really is clearly better than most everything else out there ... full programmibility being more important, IMHO, than exact per-key ergonomics.

 Anyway, I hope you find a way to be happy with your keyboard. I sure like mine.

HHKB-lite2, Dvorak user

Offline Data

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It's not really fair to say the Dox is "bad".  It is fair to say it's flawed.  Ergodox makes several compromises in ergonomics and flexibility in order to be capable of being manufactured and assembled on a reasonable/affordable scale.  It's a hybrid.  If Maltron or Kinesis is your ideal, then use a Maltron or Kinesis... or buy a 3D printer and laser cutter and make your own keyboard designed just for you.  The Dox isn't going to be able to compete with those options and I'm pretty sure it was never intended to.

The Ergodox is (still) so popular because it can be assembled and programmed by a novice with a dollar store soldering iron.  And even for all its flaws it's still ergonomically leaps-and-bounds better than what you'll find at Best Buy or Amazon.  For those seeking the ultimate in keyboard ergonomics, the Dox is sort of a no-brainer stepping stone to the more advanced and custom boards.

Personally, the Kinesis Advantage is far too ugly and desk-consumingly huge to even be an option for me.
« Last Edit: Thu, 09 June 2016, 08:45:21 by Data »

Offline Phenix

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And which are those 'more advanced and customised boards'?

I am only aware of the katy kc80.
Winter is coming.

Offline Data

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And which are those 'more advanced and customised boards'?

I am only aware of the katy kc80.

I was counting the Maltron and Kinesis among those, but mainly the one-off custom boards that people build like Oobly's or any of the numerous customs you see in the Making Stuff forum, or even some of the more "obscure" ergonomic boards like Keyboardio.

Offline Phenix

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Ok. Also seen some interesting projects. But out of interested: If those are way better, why arent those getting an bigger audience (+ GB)??
Is it just due to. Costs?
Winter is coming.

Offline Data

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Cost & complexity.

Offline oneproduct

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I've tried Ergodox, Truly Ergonomic and Kinesis Advantage and I sold my Ergodox as it was my least favorite. The thumb cluster was too far, the bottom row (beneath ZXCV) was hard to use compared to the kinesis' which is easy because of its curvature and I feel the inner row of the Ergodox is unnecessary (to one with the vertical keys to the right of G and left of H).
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Offline Questengine

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I hit the 1u keys in the Ergodox thumb cluster with my fingers, not my thumbs, so they DO come off the home row, but that's not an issue for me.  As long as I can feel my way around the keyboard without having to look down at it, away from the screen, I'm happy. I use a lot of symbols and modifiers and key combinations (LOTS of autohotkey) so my hands are already hovering over all different corners and edges of the keyboard anyway.