Keyboardio Review

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

The keyboardio keyboard first batch is out on 2017-07.

keyboardio m1 83551
keyboardio model 1. 〔image source by @phildini, 2017-07-21〕

Total key count: 64.

Each side has 32 keys.

Note the palm keys. This is a innovation. You press it by pressing your palm down.

keyboardio m1 right side 44338
keyboardio m1 right side 〔image source flickr, by Eric Sorenson, 2017-07-22〕

finally, we have a keyboard with a any 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.

keyboardio m1 right key profile 44134
keyboardio m1 right key profile 〔image source flickr, by Eric Sorenson, 2017-07-22〕

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

keyboardio m1 left thumb keys 44024
thumb buns. 〔image source flickr, by Eric Sorenson, 2017-07-22〕

The thumb keys, are shaped like a bun. This is another innovation. For the thumb, round keys seems to enhance tacticle feedback.

Layout

keyboardio model 01 layout 1
keyboardio Model 01's default layout

supports also Dvorak, Colemak, Workman, keyboard layouts.

〔►see Alternative 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.)

keyboardio model 01 layout 2
keyboardio Model 01's Fn key layer.

Everything is open source too. Including firmware, design.

RGB Lights

Each key has a LED light and can be individually colored in rainbow colors, and can be programed to light up like a Christmas tree. e.g. flash, wash, breath, or a wave of rainbow effects.

keyboardio m1 rgb 44488
keyboardio m1 rgb 〔image source flickr, by Eric Sorenson, 2017-07-22〕

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.

Big Ass Octo Feet

keyboardio m1 octo feet 28203
keyboardio m1 octo feet

Steady, rock free, detachable.

Mechanical Key Switch

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

Fully Programable Open Source Firmware

You can easily remap keys, or create key layers (like holding Alt down, or like press Caps Lock), or create your own letter key layout, or program key macros for gaming or photoshop, etc. You can also program the light effects.

As far as i know, the keyboardio firmware, and features, is the best of all possible out there. (yes, ye ergodox fans, you heard me right.)

Let me say this again. The keyboardio programability, for mom and pop, or for programers, is more feature rich, more flexible, and more powerful, than ANY programable keyboard you can buy with money.

If you are a programer, you can look at the code and features now at:

https://github.com/keyboardio

Typing on Keyboardio

typing on keyboardio. 〔By eric sorenson. Used with permission. https://twitter.com/ahpook

First customer review by Eric Sorenson. https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/comments/6p35g8/review_i_received_my_keyboardio_model_1pvt_ama/

When Will it Come Out?

First few buyers got it in 2017-07. They are posting photos and videos on twitter.

Mass production is scheduled in 2017-09.

Conclusion

Purely from a functional design point of view, my analysis is that keyboardio is far 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 doesn't do much neither, but adds to the cost.

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

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

Now, there's also:

Kinesis is bowl shaped. Bowl shaped might be more ergonomic. Whether bowl shape is better, how much better, depends on how much you actually type (as measured by keylog) and your preference.

Keyboardio's thumb keys are superior than the thumb keys on Kinesis.

Keyboardio don't have physical arrow keys and page up/down keys and F1 to F12 keys.

To press arrow keys, you need to hold down the palm Fn key, or, program it so that you can press a key to toggle lock into a navigation keys layer, so that letter keys become arrow keys and page up/down etc. (similar to how Caps Lock or Num Lock works)

Imagine eating pizza with one hand, or, playing Pacman. This is when dedicated arrow keys are convenient. Because you don't need to hold a Fn key down, nor need to press some lock key to a mode then remember to toggle it back.

google pacman
Google Pacman

For why dedicated function keys are useful, see: Why Function Keys F1 F2 Are Useful

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

The wooden framework of the keyboardio 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 keyboardio is excellent, and its price is extremely competitive.

Where to Buy

https://shop.keyboard.io/