Keyboardio Keyboard Review

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

The keyboard.io keyboard came out.

keyboard.io angled front view rainbow-s
Keyboard.io Keyboard Model 01

Total key count: 64.

Each side has 32 keys. 4 are thumb keys, 1 palm key.

note the palm key. This is a innovation. You press it by pressing your palm down.

keyboard.io butterfly and any-s
Keyboard.io, key “any” and key “butterfly”.

finally, we have a keyboard with a any key

note that each key cap is individually sculpted. Not just the top of the key, but also the overall shape of the key.

Note, that the tacticle bump, on the key J. It is centered. This design was in the 1990s, but gradually disappeared. Now, they are typically a bar near the bottom edge of the key top surface.

The dot in the middle design is a better design, because that makes it more effective in identifing keys by touch. One might complain that you feel it when you press the key. But actually, after a while, you won't notice.

keyboard.io hands on model 01-s
hands on

Layout

keyboard.io keys left half-s
left side.
keyboard.io model 01 layout 1
keyboard.io Model 01's default layout

supports also Dvorak, Colemak, Workman, … keyboard layouts.

All keys can be reconfigured by firmware. (meaning, you can plug it in any computer or OS, and it'll have keys the way you configured it.)

keyboard.io model 01 layout 2
keyboard.io Model 01's Fn key layer.

Everything is open source too. Including firmware, design.

keyboard.io sculpted keycaps-s
keyboard.io model 01 side closeup

RGB Mechanical Keys

keyboard.io keycap removed-s
keyboard.io model 01 RGB mechanical keys.

The keyboard.io model 01 also features what's called “RGB key”. It is popular in gaming community. It means, each key are individually lit and can be individually colored in rainbow colors, and can be programed to light up like a Christmas tree. It can flash, can “breath”, or a wave of rainbow effect.

Besides visual opulence, one practical use is that it can guide users. For example, you can have WASD keys light up. Or, in vim, you can have it lights up red when in command mode, green in insertion mode. In Emacs, possible keybinding can light up when you hold Alt or Ctrl. Though, these applications are yet to be seen. (i don't know if it is actually possible. It will need vim and emacs to talk to the keyboard.)

Matias mechanical key switch
Matias mechanical key switch 〔►see Guide to Keyboard Key Switch Mechanisms

Hands-On Review

As of , it's not out yet. Expected date is early 2017.

keyboard.io model prototype 2017 01 09
keyboardio model 01 prototype, 2017-01-09. 〔image source https://asylum.madhouse-project.org/blog/2017/01/03/model01-prototype/ by Gergely Nagy. ©

Here's a hands-on review by a keyboard firmware programer working on a prototype.

Keyboardio Model 01 prototype By Gergely Nagy. @ https://asylum.madhouse-project.org/blog/2017/01/03/model01-prototype/

Conclusion

Purely from a functional design point of view, my analysis is that keyboard.io is better than Truly Ergonomic Keyboard and Ergodox Keyboard.

I care nothing but functionaly. From this point of view, the wooden frame is lame, and the RGB lights doesn't add much. And the sculpted keys also adds to the cost, while doesn't do much.

The most important aspects for functionality in a keyboard, is:

keyboard.io shines in all these aspects. In particular, it provides 4 thumb keys, plus a palm key, for each hand.

Now, there's also:

For Kinesis and Maltron, they are both bowl shaped. Bowl shaped might be more ergonomic, but it makes the keyboard less usable for casual use. Whether bowl shape is better, how much better, depends on how much you actually type (as measured by keylog) and your preference. (e.g. do you want it portable?)

keyboard.io's thumb keys are superior than Maltron and Kinesis.

The keyboard.io lacks physical arrow keys and page up/down keys and F1 to F12 keys. This means, you'll need two hands to operate it. Imagine eating pizza with one hand, or, playing Pacman.

google pacman
Pacman. This is when dedicated arrow keys are essential.

For why dedicated function keys are useful, see: What's the Use of Function Keys F1 F2…?.

For Esrille, μTRON, i think one needs to actually use the keyboard to know.

The wooden framework of the keyboard.io is a major turn off for me. It means, it'll be bulky, hard to carry, heavy. (think of space station and scifi. I want it to be anti-rust, anti-rot, anti-drop, water-proof, lite-weight, durable, used in space. This tech exist, it's called plastic. )

The individually sculpted key caps is rather a turn off too. Sure, it provides some edge, trivial to be sure, but at a big $cost$. It also makes difficult to get key cap replacements. 〔►see Keyboard Keycap Gallery

Over all, i think keyboard.io is excellent, and its price is extremely competitive.

Video and Where to Buy

See a video of the latest, at

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/keyboardio/the-model-01-an-heirloom-grade-keyboard-for-seriou

They are touring North America. Have a look at the above link to see when it is coming to your town.

Buy at http://www.keyboard.io/

Keyboard.io Gallery

Keyboard.io Gallery