Truly Ergonomic Keyboard Review

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

This page is a review of the “Truly Ergonomic keyboard” (TEK).

Truly Ergonomic Computer Keyboard-2015-03-31
Truly Ergonomic Keyboard, 2014 model. 3264×2448 Truly Ergonomic keyboard

The company's home page is @

Total Key Count

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard international version total key count: 88.

Each side has: 6 columns * 4 rows + 9 = 33, times 2, plus middle 5, plus top 17.

Detachable Palm-Rest

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard Palmrest side shadow 2014
Detachable palm-rest Truly Ergonomic keyboard

Video Review of the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard

video review of the Truly Ergonomic keyboard Truly Ergonomic keyboard

Key Layout Design

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard-3246
Truly Ergonomic keyboard, year 2011 model. (photo by To1ne, used with permission) Truly Ergonomic keyboard

This is a superb keyboard. It has the best layout design, fixing all the traditional PC keyboard's problems. Here's a summary of advantages:

• Frequently used special keys {Enter ↵, ⌦ Delete, Tab ↹}, are placed in the middle, to be pressed by strong index finger or thumb, instead of on the side by weak pinky.

keyboarding RSI ulnar deviation
ulnar deviation

• keys split into left & right groups, angled for each hand, so you don't have to bend your wrists. (called ulnar deviation)

• Key columns are not staggered. ➢ for example: look at 1 Q A Z, it's straight. Your finger moves straight up/down.

For detail about traditional PC keyboard problems, see: Keyboard Hardware Design Flaws.

One extra point for this keyboard is that it kept the {F1, F2, …} keys, and in 3 separate groups. Many other exotic ergonomic keyboard got this wrong. ➢ for example: the Microsoft Ergonomic 4000 has F keys as 2 continuous groups, so you have F1 to F5 adjacent, and F6 to F12 adjacent. If you want to press any of F9 or F10, now it's hard without looking. The Kinesis Contoured Keyboard made it worse by replacing them with tiny rubber buttons. Function keys are very useful. See: What's the Use of Function Keys F1 F2…?

Key Switch Mechanism and Hardware Quality

This keyboard is also quality build. It uses a mechanical key-switch for the best tactile feel. (it was using Cherry MX Brown switch, but in 2014 changed to Kailh Mechanical Keys witches) 〔➤see Key Switch Mechanisms Guide〕 〔➤see Mechanical Keyboard: Kailh Switch

The keyboard has 6-key rollover. 〔➤see What's NKRO, N-key Rollover?

The keyboard is built with metal frame inside. Very sturdy. Heavy.

Size Comparison

Note that sizes from photos can be deceiving. TEK is very compact, because it doesn't have the number pad. (TEK has a Num Lock key that turns the right hand side keys into a number pad. Similarly for the Kinesis)

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard size comparison 2
Size Comparison: Truly Ergonomic vs Apple Keyboard.

The design of TEK is one of the best. It fixes all the conventional PC keyboard flaws, yet remains in one simple elegant piece. It isn't so huge as the Microsoft Ergonomic 4000, which is also cheaply built for the mass market. TEK also isn't so radical as the Kinesis Contoured Keyboard. The Kinesis will take a while to get used to, and is a bit inconvenient for casual use because of the bowl shaped key surface.

Reprogramable Keys

TEK's firmware can be reprogramed. Meaning, you can design your own layout of the keys, and you can plug this keyboard into any computer and your own personal layout works without needing to reconfigure. (➢ for example: swap CtrlAlt, create your own Fn key layer to move cursor, or change position of Return ↩, or any weird design of your own.)

The custom layout software is web based, at It came out around 2013 July.

truly ergonomic keyboard layout 2013-09-04
Truly Ergonomic Keyboard key layout tool.

You go to the site and drag keys to create your own key configuration, then click save to create and download the firmware file, then you can use the firmware updater downloaded from their site to set your keyboard's firmware.

As of today (), the firmware updater is for Microsoft Windows only, so you need to have access to a Windows machine.

Once done, you can take the keyboard anywhere and have your own config. Quite nice. No more spending hours hacking xmodmap or AutoHotkey.

Xah's TEK Layouts

for some of my layouts, see:

My Experiences

I've been using this keyboard since . Am very happy with it. I'm a heavy emacs user. (by the way, the key size is the same as standard PC keyboard.)

Overcome Habit

It takes 1 month to adopt the matrix-style keys. The first 2 weeks is particularly painful, especially for the left-hand. Pressing 3 results 2, because the habit to move more to the left. Similarly, pressing b results in pressing Delete in the center, because my finger want to move more to the right. Though, my right hand adopted the right-hand side right away. (am using QWERTY notation here to indicate key position, but i'm actually using Dvorak Keyboard Layout.)

It takes 2 months to become fluent. Changing muscle memory is very frustrating, so you'll have to be patient.

Shift & Control Positions

Note that on TEK, the ⇧ Shift is at normal PC's Caps Lock position. Let's look at this diagram:

  q w e r
♥ a s d f
♦ z x c v

The key position ♥ is significantly easier-to-type than the ♦. That's why they put the ⇧ Shift there. However, for programers, we need to use Ctrl often as well, even more frequent than ⇧ Shift for emacs users. So, you might put Ctrl at the ♥ location, and ⇧ Shift is on ♦. This way, ⇧ Shift is at the same position as standard PC keyboard, and one less problem when typing on someone else's keyboard.

(but if you are a heavy emacs user, you probably don't want to put Ctrl at the home row for the pinkies neither. There are lots more efficient setup. See below.)

What to Do with 2 Space Keys

TEK has 2 Space keys. Some people use right-hand for space, some use left-hand. Some people actually use both (that's me).

but, being a efficiency nerd, i decided having 2 Space keys is a waste. I want just one Space, so that the other key can be used for some other purpose.

You should set one of the space to something, such as Alt or Ctrl or ▤ Menu, or, set it to Fn and use the key customizer to make combination with other keys near home row to be cursor movement keys such as arrows keys.

Setup for Emacs Users

If you are a heavy emacs user, i have 2 suggestions on how to use this keyboard.

See also:

Double Key Press Problem (aka key chattering, contact bouncing)

I've heard from 2 online acquaintances that they have key repeating issue. That is, some key will repeat 2 or 3 times, or not register. This seems to be a common problem of mechanical keyboards, called key-bouncing, and it may need some time to “break-in”.

If you have key-repeat problem, i recommend that you try hitting the problem keys hundreds of times for 2 weeks. If still problem, return it. Here's some references:

Other TEK Reviews and Info

Beware of sponsored reviews. Also, many of the following are from online friends. I got some of them to buy it.

from my friend: 〔My Truely Ergonormic Keyboard Settings By Alpha Ho. @

from my friend: 〔Truly Ergonomic — full review By Toon Claes. @

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard By Nicholas Rinard Keene's Little Bit. @

Truly Ergonomic Computer Keyboard Review: One Month with the TECK By Jarred Walton. @

TEK firmware info


Reddit discsusion. TEK vs Kinesis, for emacs users.

TEK owners discussion

Discussion. TEK owners, emacs use.

discussion. TEK owner, emacs use.

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard: 2014 Models

in 2014, there are new models of the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard.

they are switching from Cherry MX to Kailh. 〔➤see Mechanical Keyboard: Kailh Switch

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard null photo 2015-04-11
here, have an ice-cream


For alternative well-designed symmetric keyboards, see How to Chose Ergonomic Keyboards.

I highly recommend you get a mouse with 9 or more buttons. These: Best Mouse for Programers. I recommend the Logitech ones.

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