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Non-staggered keys AKA matrix or grid layout, especially the Kinesis

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I recently wrote about  my experiences with the TypeMatrix, Plum and Kinesis Contoured keyboards. DreymaR suggested I write reviews of these keyboards, all of which feature non-staggered rows, also called a matrix- or grid-like layout.

However, I don't think I'd have much to add to the other post... My findings more or less confirm what is said in other reviews of these keyboards.

I can't really recommend the Plum unless you're willing to heavily modify it, as a fellow swiss colemak-forum user shows here: https://forum.colemak.com/viewtopic.php?pid=2160#p2160

The TypeMatrix is definitely worth a try if you're on a budget, plus they finally have a USB version coming with an improved layout (I was told that they'll maybe be ready in May). It does have a few shortcomings, like the missing modifier keys on the right hand side of the space bar, or the weird placement of the left hand side modifier keys: As a Mac user I'm used to hit the command key with my left thumb (mostly) - unlike users of other OSs who often use the left pinky to hit the control key - I found it irritating that there's another row below the modifier keys.

And the Kinesis Contoured keyboard, well, it takes some getting used to - one needs to adjust to the non-staggered rows, and also to the shorter distances to the keys. But it feels natural pretty quickly. The remapping feature is excellent, and done with and saved "in the keyboard" itself. It's only a matter of activating the remapping mode, then pressing the source key ("I want this key...") and then the target key ("...here"), then exit the remapping mode. Of course one can remap as many keys as one likes in remapping mode.
For example, I figured I'd move the number row one key to the left - since that moves the keys in appropriately the same position as they are on a keyboard with staggered rows - relative to the home row. E.g. the "3" key is almost directly above the Colemak "r" key (Qwerty "s" key), so even though it should be hit with the middle finger I found I often hit it with the ring finger. As a bonus, this allowed me to put the "=" key back to the top right. That's a key I use fairly often, being a software engineer, and there was no point using the left pinky instead of the right one.
Another example: in the left thumb key group there's a forward delete by default, a key I hardly ever use. So instead, I put a return key there, so I have a return key for my left hand when the right hand is using the mouse. The last example: I put all of the arrow keys to the right hand.
In short, one can do whatever makes sense for oneself.

If anyone is interested, my current Colemak layout on the Kinesis Contoured keyboard can be seen in this picture. For reference the original Qwerty layout is shown here

BTW, I'm definitely sticking with the Kinesis, in fact I ordered a second one today so I won't have to carry the other one around... ;)

Last edited by boli (04-Mar-2008 21:38:30)
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Looks nice. I wish I knew someone who had such a board so I could try it out. I'm still holding back, in part because I'm afraid I'd make it harder for myself to type on the boards I meet on my job if I went non-staggered. Maybe it's a foolish notion, I don't know.

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

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I also wished I could have tried before buying, but then again I read somewhere that one can return it within 60 days if one is not happy with it. If you're like me, you'll get one sooner or later anyway, so why wait. ;)

Regarding your doubts, I can offer the argument I used to convince myself. :D I never did touch-type in QWERTY again since switching to Colemak, so I resort to pecking and hunting when I'm at someone else's keyboard (which doesn't happen very often, anyway, so top speed is not crucial).
For now, as I have only a single Kinesis keyboard, which I leave at work Monday to Friday but take home on weekends, I'm touch-typing this on the previous keyboard I used (Apple aluminum), with Colemak layout of course. At the moment I think I can type just as well on both keyboards (meaning at 60 wpm), as long as they're in Colemak. :)

I'm sure once I get the second Kinesis and become more accustomed to it I'll become a little slower on any other Keyboard (with Colemak layout), but I guess not by much (not that it'd matter much, as it shouldn't happen often; and I don't have a portable computer, and typing on the iPhone is by hunting and pecking anyway). Kinesis say one will still be able to type on a regular keyboard, but will likely find it less comfortable than before. This sounds reasonable IMHO, as the Kinesis just is very comfortable.

Last edited by boli (05-Mar-2008 00:14:08)
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Maybe the KL08272 is also suitable for touch typing. At least it has the standard 0.75 inch key pitch. It would also have the blank keys which I would like.

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cisum said:

Maybe the KL08272 is also suitable for touch typing. At least it has the standard 0.75 inch key pitch. It would also have the blank keys which I would like.

What about this?  I have the normal staggered keyboard utilising the same technology (G86 model prefix), and although it's a membrane, it's incredibly smooth (though fairly loud).

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I've heard that the tactile (brown) Cherry MX switches used by Kinesis are the best mechanical switches you can get, and I like the non-staggered layout.  However, what concerns me about the Kinesis is that you have to type with your palms/wrists anchored to the board, which I'm not sure is such a great idea from an ergonomic point of view.

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plummer said:

I've heard that the tactile (brown) Cherry MX switches used by Kinesis are the best mechanical switches you can get, and I like the non-staggered layout.  However, what concerns me about the Kinesis is that you have to type with your palms/wrists anchored to the board, which I'm not sure is such a great idea from an ergonomic point of view.

I think the idea is to write with the hands hovering above the keyboard, and putting them on the keyboard to rest during thinking or other pauses.
I noticed that I sometimes write while resting the hands on the palm rest pads, which works quite well too.

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I've been using a slightly modified key arrangement since the end of march, picture here.

Differences from the earlier mapping:
- All arrow keys moved to the left (useful when right hand is on the mouse)
- Brackets [] moved back to the right
- Begin/End put to the right (next to the brackets)
- Tilde/Tick key on Caps Lock, Esc back to original location (top left)

Last edited by boli (16-May-2008 08:04:19)
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The Kinesis looks really good, I might buy it but it's pretty expensive. Can you actually type faster on it, or does it just help with comfort? I have no problems with comfort, I think because I just have really strong fingers.

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Comfort only.

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Personally, I did improve my typing speed on it, but then again I still haven't reached my QWERTY speed from before the switch, so it's only natural to make progress - I'd have progressed on a regular keyboard as well.
Due to the bowl shape the top and bottom rows are somewhat closer to the home row, and thus more easily reachable (add to that the non-staggered key layout). But as with the change from QWERTY to Colemak, the important change is increased comfort, and not increased speed.

BTW there are alternatives: there exists a comparably cheap clone of the £375 ($738) Maltron keyboard, namely the $175 ErgoMatic keyboard. Neither of those is programmable in its firmware, so key remapping has to be done in software if desired. I don't own any of the two so I can't compare it to the Kinesis keyboard.

Last edited by boli (09-Jun-2008 07:31:14)
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ErgoMatic keyboards are hard to get.
The buy link in that page takes you to a page selling books :)
Maybe you need enlightenment before trying to buy their keyboards ._.

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urlwolf said:

ErgoMatic keyboards are hard to get.
The buy link in that page takes you to a page selling books :)
Maybe you need enlightenment before trying to buy their keyboards ._.

Hehe. :) I just noticed it says "All product sales have been halted awaiting a model changeover.
You are welcome to browse and correspond with us."
on the front page...

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I have a question about Kinesis. I notice that the thumb pads have 6 buttons. It seems like the thumb should go on the middle button, but it doesn't, so you have to reach a lot farther to get those smaller buttons. Why is it designed like this?

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SpeedMorph said:

I have a question about Kinesis. I notice that the thumb pads have 6 buttons. It seems like the thumb should go on the middle button, but it doesn't, so you have to reach a lot farther to get those smaller buttons. Why is it designed like this?

Don't know why, but let me clarify that the thumbs' natural position is on the outermost keys, that is on the backspace (left hand) and space (right hand). The middle keys of each group are very easy to reach, and the two small keys in the top row are also easily reachable.

The others not so much, but look what keys they are (Home, End, Page Up, Page Down) – they're not used very often in my case, and if they were, they could be remapped to better locations.


Edit: Forgot to mention, I've been using a slightly modified layout since the end of March: http://homepage.mac.com/boli/ars/80329_ … _small.png
Main change: Arrows are on the left hand now (as the right hand is on the mouse frequently)

Last edited by boli (24-Jun-2008 18:41:20)
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Overview of keyboards with non-staggered keys:
I thought I'd list the ones I know for reference...

Kinesis Ergo Contoured:
?400,320,0,100,100,2666003445

ErgoDox, an "open source keyboard", available at Massdrop a couple of times a year)
(More ErgoDox images from Google)
_W3T2166.jpg

Maltron Dual Hand 90-series fully ergonomic keyboard (hi-res images):
640px_dsc_3666_1263334053.jpg

Ergo-Comp Systems ErgoMatic:
A Maltron clone, apparently no longer available.

TypeMatrix:
2030USB_full_600x244.png

Truly Ergonomic keyboard:
Ergonomic_Keyboard.jpg

DataDeskTechnologies SmartBoard:
Sb-low-res.jpg

PLUM keyboard:
zeuf.jpg

Edit 2011-03-05: Updated picture of PLUM and Maltron keyboards, since previous images were no longer available. Looks like the PLUM keyboard is EOL. Also added TrulyErgonomic keyboard.
Edit 2014-05-06: Fixed some links and added ErgoDox.

Last edited by boli (06-May-2014 17:54:26)
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Does anyone have an Ergomatic? Is it as good as the Kinesis or Maltron? I want to get a new keyboard, not because I have RSI but because I think it's fun. I'm trying to find the best keyboard layout, so I want to use a better keyboard. So the remapping function of Kinesis looks pretty good. Do you think I should get an Ergomatic or a Kinesis? What I mean is, is the Kinesis worth the extra money?

ETA: How easy is it to switch between ergonomic and standard?

ETA2: Oops, you can't buy Ergomatic. XD

ETA3: How easy is it to use Kinesis for games? Like, using WASD controls.

ETA4: All Kinesis keyboards are programmable, right?

Last edited by SpeedMorph (10-Aug-2008 21:31:20)
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Regarding the Ergomatic: reportedly you get what you pay for. Its price is much lower than the Maltron (which it mimics - it has the same design), but apparently the quality suffered. (there are reports on the Maltron and Kinesis keyboards as well on that page)

I'd like to try an Ergomatic or Maltron keyboard myself, but I suspect I'd very much miss the remapping functionality.

I hardly switch between Kinesis and standard keyboard, as I have a Kinesis at home and a second one at work. On my secondary computer at home (Mac mini working as HTPC) I use the (Apple aluminum) keyboard to enter my password only (in Colemak of course), which works well. Everything else is done with the mouse. :)
Occasionally I'm at university where I still work as a hobby and have to type an email or two, also on standard (Apple aluminum) keyboards with Colemak layout (after logging into my account only, the login screen is QWERTZ/QWERTY). It works quite well, but it's not as comfortable and I won't break any speed records, but I guess I can still type at about 50 wpm without training (compared to 70 on the Kinesis).
On other people's computers I usually resort to hunting and pecking, since they typically have QWERTZ or QWERTY layout.

As for games, that took some getting used to. The keys of the Kinesis have a large travel distance, though the keypress registers before bottoming out. During FPS games I usually press the FRST (QWERTY: ESDF) keys all the way down, which I hardly do when typing. Due to this it may take a moment for the key to stop registering. Forget about using WARS (QWERTY: WASD) with ring, middle and index fingers though: each column on the Kinesis is matched to the finger lengths, so moving the hand one column left or right is a no-go. Personally that wasn't a problem, as I moved to QWERTY: ESDF long ago, so that I could put more weapons to the left to be selected by the pinky (the other three fingers are busy moving anyway).

Dunno if all Kinesis boards are remappable, you'll have to check their website.

Update:
BTW if you're looking for a cheap grid keyboard you might want to check out the revised TypeMatrix EzReach2030, which should come out this fall.
They fixed the problems I had with the previous design (modifier key location mostly).
The new design looks like I'd give it another try if I didn't have the Kinesis already.
For reference the previous design.

Last edited by boli (21-Mar-2011 19:23:32)
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Two and a half years later, I'm still using my Kinesis Ergo keyboard. I have ordered a TrulyErgonomic.com keyboard though, out of curiosity.

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I'm slowly falling in love with the Kinesis. I haven't actually tried one, but I have to really like it before shelling out :-)

Loads of questions:

Can everything be remapped? Specifically, I'd like to:
- Swap space and backspace
- Have control on Caps lock
- Swap soft/hard keys, e.g., swapping keypad shift and esc for some hard keys?
- Remap keypad mode keys, e.g., I'd like to have the arrows on 8456, not 8426.

How accesible is the keypad mode? Do you use it regularly? (I use my traditional numpad quite a lot for window management, so having it easily accessible would be nice)

How is it to have Esc as a soft key?

Does it have a (context) menu key?

Does it have media keys or something I could easily dedicate to it?

How is it for casual one-hand typing and how is it to not have dedicated arrow keys?  (EDIT: With the up key above the down key, I mean)

Pedals sound like an awesome idea, do you use any?

I assume the normal-size key caps can be swapped. What about the others, e.g., space and backspace, or even put a Control where Caps lock was?

I hope you can help :-)

Last edited by erw (07-Jun-2011 15:48:57)
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erw said:

Can everything be remapped? Specifically, I'd like to:
- Swap space and backspace
- Have control on Caps lock
- Swap soft/hard keys, e.g., swapping keypad shift and esc for some hard keys?

Definitely yes.

- Remap keypad mode keys, e.g., I'd like to have the arrows on 8456, not 8426.

Good question, I never use the arrows in keypad mode, but I'd think yes... Update: yes you can. I enabled keypad mode first (but not numpad), then pressed the key combo to remap keys, and then moved the keypad down arrow to the numpad 5 position, and the numpad 5 to the keypad down arrow. Then I exited the remap mode. The second remapping was senseless in hindsight, why would I want a "5" on the keypad down arrow? :P

How accesible is the keypad mode? Do you use it regularly? (I use my traditional numpad quite a lot for window management, so having it easily accessible would be nice)

It takes one keypress (2nd from the right in the top row) to toggle the keypad mode active/inactive, so it's easy enough. To actually get numpad you have to press the key that works as "Num Lock" in keypad mode, which on my layout is the "8" key, in the normal kinesis layout it's the "7" key. It keeps its state when you disable keypad mode, so if you use the keypad mainly for numbers you might want to leave it on.

The numpad is comfortable to use, but I only do it when paying bills via e-banking. Shorter numbers (<10 digits) I type on the number row, because the number row is more accessible than usual thanks to the bowl shape.

How is it to have Esc as a soft key?

The soft ESC and F# keys are the weak point of the keyboard hands down. They work, but are a bit finicky. I'd rather have normal keys like all the others tbh. It's still a great keyboard despite this flaw, but I wish they'd change it.

Does it have a (context) menu key?

What's that? On a Mac you get the context menu by pressing the right mouse button or the CTRL key and left mouse button, same as on any other keyboard.
If you mean the Windows menu, then the Windows key will activate it. If you mean something else please explain.

Does it have media keys or something I could easily dedicate to it?

Yes. You can set F3, F4 and F5 to be the USB standard media keys (back, play/pause, forward), which you can use to control for example iTunes or VLC - even when the screen is locked!
You can also use F9, F10 and F11 as mute, volume down and volume up respectively, if you enable it.
Check out the Contoured USB keyboard manual (Advantage & Advantage Pro) to see how (search for "multimedia").

How is it for casual one-hand typing and how is it to not have dedicated arrow keys?  (EDIT: With the up key above the down key, I mean)

As you might have seen I moved all arrows to the left hand, so my right hand can stay on the mouse. This arrangement takes a bit of getting used to, but I prefer it to the original Kinesis layout. It's the same arrangement as used in the command line editor VI by the way. I think I'd prefer the normal upside down T shape for the arrow keys, however that would use up too much space on the wrist rest. But it's not a big issue for me. And for games I use FRST in Colemak anyway (rather than WARS in Colemak, or WASD in Qwerty).

Pedals sound like an awesome idea, do you use any?

Nope. But using them for shift or other modifier keys might make sense, but then again my feet are all over the place, so dunno how practical it would be.

I assume the normal-size key caps can be swapped. What about the others, e.g., space and backspace, or even put a Control where Caps lock was?

The keys could be swapped, but you do not want to do it, as each key has a different shape (and/or height). Because of this I put stickers on the keys I moved, such as the number row. I think I linked the stickers somewhere in this forum, too.

Update: I think the space and backspace key have the same shape, so that should be possible. But the delete and enter key for example have a different shape, they are sloped (lower toward the middle of the keyboard). Caps lock and control are totally different shapes as well. But anyway, just remap in software and relabel or learn by heart. :)

Last edited by boli (07-Jun-2011 20:10:45)
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Hi boli, thanks for the answers!


boli said:

I never use the arrows in keypad mode
[...]
It takes one keypress (2nd from the right in the top row) to toggle the keypad mode active/inactive, so it's easy enough.
[...]
The numpad is comfortable to use, but I only do it when paying bills via e-banking. Shorter numbers (<10 digits) I type on the number row, because the number row is more accessible than usual thanks to the bowl shape.

Good point, I forgot that there would ofc. be num lock inside keypad mode. I'd probably want to keep the num lock state on anyway, as related to my window management. It is based on the 8 (9) directions rather than the number values which is also why I'm asking about how easy it is to use keypad mode. Is it easy enough that you do it without looking and without thinking about it, just to type e.g. CTRL+ALT+9 (9 as in north east)?

boli said:

The soft ESC and F# keys are the weak point of the keyboard hands down. They work, but are a bit finicky. I'd rather have normal keys like all the others tbh. It's still a great keyboard despite this flaw, but I wish they'd change it.

If not for your shifted number row, would it make sense to move Esc to the key above Tab?

boli said:

Does it have a (context) menu key?

What's that? On a Mac you get the context menu by pressing the right mouse button or the CTRL key and left mouse button, same as on any other keyboard.
If you mean the Windows menu, then the Windows key will activate it. If you mean something else please explain.

0.png It does the same as right clicking.


boli said:

How is it for casual one-hand typing and how is it to not have dedicated arrow keys?  (EDIT: With the up key above the down key, I mean)

As you might have seen I moved all arrows to the left hand, so my right hand can stay on the mouse. This arrangement takes a bit of getting used to, but I prefer it to the original Kinesis layout. It's the same arrangement as used in the command line editor VI by the way. I think I'd prefer the normal upside down T shape for the arrow keys, however that would use up too much space on the wrist rest. But it's not a big issue for me. And for games I use FRST in Colemak anyway (rather than WARS in Colemak, or WASD in Qwerty).

Yes, I'm a big HJKL (well, HNEI) user as well. I noticed how the standard layout fails by putting the up key on the qwerty J finger and down on the K finger.

About casual one-hand typing, I actually meant typing text using one hand, for example while eating with the other :-)   Is it feasible?

boli said:

The keys could be swapped, but you do not want to do it, as each key has a different shape (and/or height). Because of this I put stickers on the keys I moved, such as the number row. I think I linked the stickers somewhere in this forum, too.

Update: I think the space and backspace key have the same shape, so that should be possible. But the delete and enter key for example have a different shape, they are sloped (lower toward the middle of the keyboard). Caps lock and control are totally different shapes as well. But anyway, just remap in software and relabel or learn by heart. :)

Aw, there goes my hope of having Colemak keycaps. Well, the blue home keys would stick out anyway. Btw, do the blue keys have any small bumps so you can feel them like normal keyboards have on F and J?

I wonder if it's possible to get custom key caps? It's not that I can't learn them by heart, it's just that it'd be nice to have "correct" keycaps when spending so much money on a keyboard. But qwerty would of course make it possible for me to sell my it again if I should change my mind.


About the locations of space and backspace: Did they take any getting used to for you? I noticed that I always use my left hand for space, so it would be hard to relearn, I think. (btw, does swapping space and backspace also move keypad mode zero to the left hand?)

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erw said:

Good point, I forgot that there would ofc. be num lock inside keypad mode. I'd probably want to keep the num lock state on anyway, as related to my window management. It is based on the 8 (9) directions rather than the number values which is also why I'm asking about how easy it is to use keypad mode. Is it easy enough that you do it without looking and without thinking about it, just to type e.g. CTRL+ALT+9 (9 as in north east)?

Using the key-/numpad mode is very comfortable and natural, but getting into it requires pressing said key, which is a bit of a stretch - say about as bad as backspace on a regular keyboard. As the key is in the top-most row it's also one of those less-than-perfect soft keys, which are a bit wobbly and don't have a very precise activation point.
You cannot move (remap) the keypad mode activation key unless you have a foot pedal [1] BTW (unlike the esc key I mentioned earlier), so if you'd require frequent use of that wobbly button I'd say you'd definitely see room for improvement there. ;) I'd probably want to find an alternative solution, like binding the system shortcuts to say CTRL+ALT+y rather than CTRL+ALT+9 (and so forth for the other numbers) to avoid having to press the wobbly key very often.

To put this in perspective, I use the esc key a couple times a day, which works OK, but if it were as frequent as say a couple times an hour or 10 minutes I'd think about moving it elsewhere. There was a time when I used to have esc on the caps lock key; but now there's `~ on the caps lock key, which - come to think of it - I might use less often than esc. Hmm... :)

If not for your shifted number row, would it make sense to move Esc to the key above Tab?

Depends how much you like the += key, because that's what you'd lose (or probably swap) for it, as you can see in this original Kinesis (Mac mode) layout.
Personally I've been using my adjusted Colemak Kinesis layout for about 3 years and like the fact that the -_ and =+ keys are to the right of 0) as usual, but your suggestion might work better for you. That's the beauty of remapping in the keyboard, you can easily try out stuff and find the arrangement that works best for you.

(Speaking of remapping, my trulyergonomic.com keyboard is still bound to arrive "soon"; I still feel like I'll miss the thumb keys on it, but it has more potential than many other keyboards IMO)

[picture of (context) menu key] It does the same as right clicking

Ah thanks, as you might have guessed I haven't worked with non-Apple/non-special keyboards very much. ;) It doesn't have a key like that AFAIK, well definitely not in Mac mode, and not in Windows mode either from what I remember from browsing the manual.

About casual one-hand typing, I actually meant typing text using one hand, for example while eating with the other :-)   Is it feasible?

Oh right, I totally overlooked that part. :o Hmm, it's not feasible well/easily, that's the reason I put all arrow keys as well as a second enter key to the left side. It's also the reason I only use 1 to 6 for my control groups in StarCraft II, 7 and up are too far away. The left and right sides are a lot further apart than on a regular split keyboard, and the right side is made for the right hand, and doesn't fit the left hand well at all. That's the price for an excellent two-hand typing experience; it can't exceed at both 1- and 2-handed.

Aw, there goes my hope of having Colemak keycaps. Well, the blue home keys would stick out anyway. Btw, do the blue keys have any small bumps so you can feel them like normal keyboards have on F and J?

The blue keys do have a smaller and more sunken surface area - a deeper "crater" so to speak, so they do feel different. And not just T and N, but all of the ARST and NEIO keys (well the blue keys say ASDF and JKL; ofc).

I wonder if it's possible to get custom key caps? It's not that I can't learn them by heart, it's just that it'd be nice to have "correct" keycaps when spending so much money on a keyboard. But qwerty would of course make it possible for me to sell my it again if I should change my mind.

Hmm, there are probably only very few Colemak && Kinesis users out there, so I reckon there's at most a slim chance - if at all. It's probably not very economical for Kinesis to even make QWERTY/Dvorak dual-legended key caps (I assume Dvorak may be slightly more widespread than Colemak among Kinesis users, maybe there's 3 instead of 2 :P)

You could ask Kinesis about it, maybe you're not the first. I never bothered tbh, but for a reasonable price wouldn't mind Colemak caps either. Or better yet, caps with my slightly adjusted layout. ;)

About the locations of space and backspace: Did they take any getting used to for you? I noticed that I always use my left hand for space, so it would be hard to relearn, I think.

For me space with right thumb was natural while typing, not sure I ever used the left thumb as well. I do occasionally miss a space key on the left side while using an Adobe app where it could be used to drag around the viewport though.

(btw, does swapping space and backspace also move keypad mode zero to the left hand?)

No, it does not. In fact, in keypad mode the backspace key is still backspace, even when it's remapped to space in normal mode.

[1] Update 2012-01-22: Sordna at geekhack told me that it is in fact possible to remap the keypad activation key if you have a footswitch. Apparently I missed this in the manual:

The Keypad Shift action turns on the embedded numeric keypad only while the foot switch
remains depressed. It cannot be remapped to another location, although a Keypad toggle
action may be remapped to a key or foot pedal using the Keypad Shift action as the source

Last edited by boli (22-Jan-2012 09:26:27)
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boli said:

You cannot move (remap) the keypad mode activation key BTW (unlike the esc key I mentioned earlier), so if you'd require frequent use of that wobbly button I'd say you'd definitely see room for improvement there. ;) I'd probably want to find an alternative solution, like binding the system shortcuts to say CTRL+ALT+y rather than CTRL+ALT+9 (and so forth for the other numbers) to avoid having to press the wobbly key very often.

Sucks that it can't be remapped. How wobbly is "wobbly"? If you can find a way to describe it :-)

About using "y" and the other corresponding letters, I can't since it is not just CTRL+ALT+9 (put window), but also CTRL+9, ALT+9, SHIFT+9 and SHIFT+ALT+9 (grid, move, expand and shrink, resp.) using PyWO.

But if I used a pedal to shift keypad mode, that might be a remedy.

boli said:

To put this in perspective, I use the esc key a couple times a day, which works OK, but if it were as frequent as say a couple times an hour or 10 minutes I'd think about moving it elsewhere. There was a time when I used to have esc on the caps lock key; but now there's `~ on the caps lock key, which - come to think of it - I might use less often than esc. Hmm... :)

If not for your shifted number row, would it make sense to move Esc to the key above Tab?

Depends how much you like the += key, because that's what you'd lose (or probably swap) for it, as you can see in this original Kinesis (Mac mode) layout.

Luckily I use CTRL+C instead of escape in vim, otherwise I would need escape every few seconds!

But actually, I'm expecting to buy one with the Danish Kinesis layout. I'd probably ditch the useless "½§" key, put the "`´|" key where that was and then put Esc above Tab.


boli said:

Personally I've been using my adjusted Colemak Kinesis layout for about 3 years and like the fact that the -_ and =+ keys are to the right of 0) as usual, but your suggestion might work better for you. That's the beauty of remapping in the keyboard, you can easily try out stuff and find the arrangement that works best for you.

Yes, remapping is pretty awesome in general. In my .vimrc, I have 154 remappings. Plus 46 more for adapting vim to colemak :-P


boli said:

It doesn't have a [menu key] AFAIK, well definitely not in Mac mode, and not in Windows mode either from what I remember from browsing the manual.

Ok, it's not a big loss since it is mostly useful together with arrow keys when browsing a GUI file manager. And Shift+F10 typically does the same anyway. In Windows and GNOME (Linux), at least.


boli said:

It's probably not very economical for Kinesis to even make QWERTY/Dvorak dual-legended key caps (I assume Dvorak may be slightly more widespread than Colemak among Kinesis users, maybe there's 3 instead of 2 :P)

You could ask Kinesis about it, maybe you're not the first. I never bothered tbh, but for a reasonable price wouldn't mind Colemak caps either. Or better yet, caps with my slightly adjusted layout. ;)

I'll ask. If I'm the first, at least the next one won't be :-)


Earlier you wrote that the delete and enter keys have a different shape, but does that mean that they can't physically be swapped or just that they'd get unintended slopes?


Yet another question: Is it comfortable to ALT+Tab on a kinesis? I do this quite a lot, so I hope it will be.

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Hm, turns out you can't get it with Danish keycaps. Or Colemak.

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