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    ortholiniear vs staggerd for Colemak (purchase advice)

    • Started by Handrix
    • 5 Replies:
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    • Registered: 14-Sep-2020
    • Posts: 6

    hello!
    I just wanted to have an additional keyboard for my notebook and finally landed in this forum. After all that research, that brought me here. I wonder if I should by a keyboard with an orthogonal or staggered layout.

    I think I have to say I really like 40% and 60% layouts (non-splitted) and I really like open source, so I think it will be one with the qmk software.

    Why do I write in this forum?
    I want to switch to the Colemak layout with Curl and Angle Mod

    What I do like on the 40% layout, that you really don't move your hands, everything what you want you fetch trough layers. Apart from that, they look really cool in the orthogonal layout. In the staggered layout I like the style of the 60% a little bit more, furthermore you have a whole lot more options for them because they seem a lot more common. But style is not everything...

    DreymaR wrote 4 years ago, that ortholinear is bad for the wrists when the keyboard is not splitted or hinged. Is this a common opinion throughout this forum? @DreymaR does your opinion has changed over time?

    does someone has experience with krepublic? They seem to be relatively low cost in comparision to the other competitors?

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    • From: UK
    • Registered: 14-Apr-2014
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    Well, let me say the following is highly caveated as I have not yet used an ortho board, so is only what I believe to be the case, but is not based on hard, practical experience.

    1. For me the most important thing is having thumb keys to select additional layers. I agree with you that you don't want your hands to be moving far from the home positions, and it's better to have non-alpha keys in good positions in secondary layers, than in bad positions in the default layer.
    2. The ortho vs staggered issue is secondary, since the angle mod makes standard staggered hardware nearly as good as ortho.
    3. I also suspect that non-split ortho (like the planck) is not ideal as it forces your hands too close together without being angled at all. That said, I'd still be curious to try one to see if that concern is borne out. I'd be tempted to buy a split planck/preonic if they weren't such niche/DIY projects.

    Last edited by stevep99 (15-Sep-2020 10:27:07)

    Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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    Thanks for the fast response. Seems to make a lot of sense. I will think about if I just try it or if I buy a staggered one.

    stevep99 said:

    I'd be tempted to buy a split planck/preonic if they weren't such niche/DIY projects.

    Yeah that's the reason why I'm looking for models with just qmk software (open source). So that the software can also be maintained by not only the manifacturer. If there's any interest here are the boards I've found with qmk (I looked not explicitly for 50% Keyboards, because they seem more niche to me):

    60% staggered
    - GH60 64 Minila
    - bm60
    - DZ60
    - HS60
    - xd60
    - xd64
    60% ortholinear
    - TX60
    - XD75AM / XD75RE
    - Idobo 75
    - ID75
    - RGB75
    50% ortholinear
    - Preonic
    40% staggered
    - Daisy
    - JD40
    - AMJ40
    - YMD40
    40% ortholinear
    - bm40
    - Niu Mini
    - JJ40
    - Plank
    - AMJ40
    - YMD40

    There are also other companys who offered this keyboards but there is a lot out of stock (perhabs because of the pandemia):
    1upkeyboards, hineybush, keeb.io, maartenwut und cannonkeys
    To address the DIY projects "problem". The companies kbdfans and YMDK offer to make the soldering of your board for you but also many of this boards here are hot swapable, which means you don't have to solder anymore at all.
    What I also found out, if someone wants to build some of these or use some pre-builds with imprinted keycap letters, you should go with DSA or XDA caps because the have the same profile in any row so you can change them easily according to the Colemak layout. Just the spacebar has another profile.
    Anyways, the krepublic keyboards seem to be the most affordable at first clance.

    Last edited by Handrix (16-Sep-2020 01:45:03)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    I still think that an ortho slab isn't so good, and I think a standard row-staggered board with ergo mods beats it. A single-slab matrix board doesn't do anything to promote straight wrists nor a comfortable shoulder distance.

    A split board, and especially a column-staggered board, is another matter. I haven't tried one, but I can see that they will work well ergonomically. And the many users of such boards on the Colemak Discord have confirmed my impression.

    For any board that isn't row-staggered like the standard boards, no Angle mods are needed. For split boards, Wide mods are probably equally pointless. The Curl/DH mod is popular either way, but on ortho/column-staggered boards the DHm variant is usually preferred.

    Last edited by DreymaR (16-Sep-2020 11:26:33)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
    *** Check out my Big Bag of Keyboard Tricks for Win/Linux/TMK... ***

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    Ok, I think I got it. The standard staggered layout is preferable over the ortholinear one if we talk about finger movement direction. It's better in anyway, except the upper row on the left hand, there the ortholinear layout would beat the staggered. If we talk about finger travel distance, for every finger the way is shorter on an ortholinear board, except the index finger and the right pinkie which has longer ways.
    So I think the question should be which is more important, the direction in which the finger moves (1+ for staggered) or the travel distance of the fingers (1+ for ortholinear).

    Generally your right, split keyboards are preferable at all or keyboard that combine the advantages of both worlds (staggered and ortholinear) like the Atreus

    But if we speak of standard rectangular keyboard form it's a matter of taste (shorter travel movements or better finger movement directions)

    But I have problems to understand your last sentence. DHm means, that the m is moved to the home row (where on normal Colemak the H is)? A general more off-Topic question: The latest Colemak versions I find here or here? Or where is the best point to start?

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    I never found the upper left row problematic myself. I considered including it in the Angle mod but decided against that as I didn't see a problem with it. It's much easier to stretch fingers outwards than to curl them up while twisting your hand as is necessary with the classical technique for the lower left half row. Travel distance isn't very different anyway, and comfort is much more important.

    SteveP's Colemakmods site is where he presents his stuff, I have my stuff in the BigBag. At the risk of self-promotion, I recommend EPKL for Windows as it goes miles beyond a simple layout remapping. It's found from the BigBag, where there's a link to its GitHub repo.

    The BigBag is a good place to start I think, but it's massive. There's so much info, you could easily get lost in there I fear. But that's the price of awesomeness, or?  ฅʕ •ᴥ•ʔฅ

    Last edited by DreymaR (17-Sep-2020 07:05:03)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
    *** Check out my Big Bag of Keyboard Tricks for Win/Linux/TMK... ***

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