Ergodox Keyboard Review

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Ergodox is a open source do-it-yourself keyboard. You buy the kit, and assemble yourself. The kit is over $230, and pre-assembled ergodox is about $300, as of 2017-03-07.

ergodox keyboard 2015 JvwKmR9
ergodox keyboard. 〔image source. photo by tricheboars deskthority.net

ErgoDox is designed by Dominic Beauchamp. Original idea by Nestor A. Diaz. The idea is heavily borrowed from Kinesis Contoured Keyboard, which is borrowed from Maltron Keyboard.

ErgoDox EZ Keyboard — unboxing and first test

Total Key Count

Ergodox total key count: 76.

Each side has a 38 keys. Main section has 32 keys, plus 6 thumb keys.

Number of Keys Compared to PC Keyboard

Here's keys of a compact PC keyboard.

⎋
` 12345      67890 -=⌫   ⎀↖⇞
↹ qwert      yuiop []\   ⌦↘⇟
⇪ asdfg      hjkl; '⏎
⇧ zxcvb      nm,./ ⇧     ↑
✲❖⎇     ␣     ⎇❖▤✲     ←↓→
Keys of a compact PC keyboard.

Here's the same symbols rearranged on the ergodox.

⎋ 12345-    =67890 ⌫
↹ qwert[    `yuiop \
⇪ asdfg]    'hjkl; ⏎
⇧ zxcvb      nm,./ ⇧
✲ ❖⎇●●      ␣⎇❖▤ ✲
      ↖↘    ↑↓
    ⇟⇞ ⎀    ⌦  ←→
       ●    ●
ergodox keys rearranged close to PC keyboard as much as possible. The symbol ● represent extra keys. 〔►see Unicode Keyboard Symbols ⌘ ⏎ ⌫

The ergodox has 4 extra keys. But it doesn't have the 12 function keys.

Superb Physical Layout Design

The ergodox's design is superb.

〔►see Computer Keyboard Design Flaws

Programable Keys, Powerful Firmware

The ergodox has one of the most flexible and powerful firmware. Not just one, but several, and it's all open source!

For example, it lets you remap keys, or create layers (such as dead key, compose key), and you can also program key macros.

〔►see Keyboard Firmware

〔►see Ergodox Firmware and Layout

Programable Key User Interface

High-end gaming keyboards come with a easy-to-use and intuitive software with graphical user interface to program the keys.

logitech gaming keyboard software 84134
Logitech's software for programing the keys. 〔►see Logitech G910 Orion Keyboard

ergodox does not have such easy-to-use software to reprogram the keys.

Most ergodox vendors provide a web-based user interface to configure keys. It works like this:

  1. Visit a keyboard config web page, it shows a keyboard diagram, then you click or drag around keys to create a custom layout
  2. Download the layout you created.
  3. Download a firmware updater.
  4. Upgrade your keyboard firmware to use the new layout.
ergodox infinity configurator 2017 03 07
ergodox infinity configurator, as of 2017-03-07.
ergodox infinity keyboard 25150
ergodox infinity keyboard, with custom keycaps. 〔image source reddit, by MassdropAlex〕

Bad Points

• No physical function keys F1F12. To press them, you have press or hold another key to activate a layer. This is not convenient.

〔►see Why Function Keys F1 F2 Are Useful

• 2-pieces design, so you have a wire connecting them. That's a bit unwieldy. Harder to carry around, prone to tug damage. You have to adjust each piece's position everytime the keyboard is pushed.

Ergodox Thumb Keys Pain

ergodox has 1 major flaw. Thumb keys are hard to reach for smaller hands.

Ergodox Keyboard Thumb Keys Pain

Do It Yourself!!

You spend some $250 for it, then you have to spend half a day to carefully assemble it, including soldering.

Pre-assembled ones costs about $300. At that price point, there are many other options.

ergodox ez keyboard 14304-s
ergodox ez keyboard. 〔image source reddit by RuntimeErr0r〕 2000×1500

Ergodox Firmware and Default Layout

〔►see Ergodox Firmware and Layout

Where to Buy?

• ergodox-ez https://ergodox-ez.com/

• ergodox infinity https://input.club/devices/infinity-ergodox/

You can also get it on massdrop now and then, or on ebay.

Layout for ergoemacs-mode and xah-fly-keys

If you use emacs, I recommend:

〔►see Kinesis/Ergodox layout for xah-fly-keys

For ergoemacs-mode, i recommend you set one of the thumb key to Alt.

For evil-mode, i recommend you set the traditional Caps Lock key to Esc.

Resources

〔►see Unicode Keyboard Symbols ⌘ ⏎ ⌫

〔►see Computer Languages Characters Frequency

〔►see Keybinding Design, Fast-Repeat Commands

Ergodox Keyboard Gallery

Ergodox Keyboard Gallery