Truly Ergonomic Keyboard Review

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

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard-207 nopalmrest front left
“Truly Ergonomic keyboard”, without palm rest.

This one is from http://www.trulyergonomic.com/. It comes with a palm rest that can be detached.

video review of the Truly Ergonomic keyboard

Key Layout Design

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard-3246
Truly Ergonomic keyboard. In this photo, the Ctrl and ⇧ Shift keys are swapped from their default positions. (photo by To1ne used with permission)

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:

keyboarding RSI ulnar deviation
ulnar deviation

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. ⁖ the Microsoft Ergonomic 4000 had 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 harder by touch. The Kinesis made it worse by replacing them with tiny rubber buttons. 〔☛ Computer Keyboard: Increase Productivity Using Function Keys

Key Switch Mechanism and Hardware Quality

This keyboard is also quality build. It uses “Cherry MX Brown” mechanical key-switch for the best tactile feel. 〔☛ Key Switch Mechanisms Guide

The keyboard has 6-key rollover. 〔☛ Keyboard Ghosting & N-key Rollover

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 this one seems 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.

TEK Key Config Tool

TEK has a key-remapping tool at http://www.trulyergonomic.com/store/layout-designer--configurator--reprogrammable--truly-ergonomic-mechanical-keyboard/. It just came out around 2013 July. It's fantastic.

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.

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.

for some of my layouts, see:

My Experiences

I've been using this keyboard for more than a year (since January 2013). Am very happy with it. I'm a heavy emacs user. I'm Asian, i have relatively small hands and thin fingers.

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 actually the easier-to-type position. 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 get it.

My Truely Ergonormic Keyboard Settings By Alpha Ho. @ alphaho.github.io…

Truly Ergonomic — full review By Toon Claes. @ writepermission.com…

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard By Nicholas Rinard Keene's Little Bit. @ nicholas.rinard.us…

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

TEK firmware info http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=38943.60

discussions

Reddit discsusion. TEK vs Kinesis, for emacs users. http://www.reddit.com/r/emacs/comments/1edfmr/video_review_of_the_truly_ergonomic_keyboard/

TEK owners discussion https://plus.google.com/113859563190964307534/posts/8whSfiD2BkF

Discussion. TEK owners, emacs use. https://plus.google.com/113859563190964307534/posts/4ntYnrUJbqG

discussion. TEK owner, emacs use. https://plus.google.com/113859563190964307534/posts/etrsh25f2Vd

Christopher Done, doesn't like TEK because he prefers Cherry MX Blue switch. https://plus.google.com/102125020195927401442/posts/7i7VTYcXPSs

Alternatives

See: Ergonomic Keyboards Gallery

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