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    For those looking for a trackball or mouse alternative, you might be interested in the RollerMouse Contour Red, I’ve been using it with the mechanical Truly Ergonomic keyboard and it’s a dream. No more reaching for the mouse, it’s always at hand under the compact keyboard.

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      I was going to post about this too! I’ve had a Contour since they made the housing in aluminum. I find I can’t use a normal mouse (or trackball) any longer and notice a speed dropoff when using a laptop without the docked setup. The Contour stuff is expensive but they are good about repairs when needed.

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        I’ve been using trackballs for a few years now (the thumb kind, I can’t get a grip of the other kinds) and like them. The MX Ergo in particular is a huge step up, especially quality wise. I just wish it had a wired variant.

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        I’m going to echo reddit and say I don’t entirely understand why anyone would prefer an ergodox over a kinesis. (Or a dactyl or maltron, though those are a bit more obscure and expensive, respectively.)

        The kinesis is a bit less programmable out of the box, true, but that’s nothing you can’t replicate easily enough on the software side. And the hardware, which you can’t do anything about, is indisputably much better.


        TFA makes reference to a keyboard with only four columns. I think that’s a great idea, which is why I was very excited about moonrim; it has four columns, with more rows to make up for it. Sadly, that project doesn’t seem to have panned out.

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          There are quite a few things you can’t do with the Kinesis, like position the halves at a distance you find more comfortable, or tent it at a different angle. The ErgoDox can do both. Something like the Keyboardio Model01, even more so.

          As for being programmable: there’s a whole lot of things that are just easier to do in firmware. While you can change the controller in the Kinesis, to make it possible to run QMK on it, that’s not something you do as a software guy.

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            positioning

            Sure. Personally, I haven’t found that particularly limiting, and the bowl shape more than makes up for it.

            While you can change the controller in the Kinesis, to make it possible to run QMK on it, that’s not something you do as a software guy.

            No need for that. You can do it all in x (or wayland, autohotkey, etc.).

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              haven’t found that particularly limiting, and the bowl shape more than makes up for it.

              The bowl shape might make it up for you, it certainly didn’t for me. Different people are built differently, and as such, what works for you, may not work for someone else. So, try to imagine that someone might not be happy with the Kinesis being a single piece board, and it becomes much easier to understand why someone would choose an ErgoDox/Dactyl/Model01/etc instead. :)

              No need for that. You can do it all in x (or wayland, autohotkey, etc.).

              There are things you really can’t, or only with much more effort than in firmware. Especially if you move your keyboard between OSes: doing the same thing 3+ times is much more effort than doing it once. Even more so when you’re otherwise unfamiliar with some of the OSes, and you just want to use your keyboard.

              Layers, oneshot keys, tapdance - those are a few features I use all the time, which are trivial in firmware, but considerably harder to do on the host side if you want to do them well. One of the things I absolutely love about my Model01, is that when I use a OneShot modifier, I can light up the key until it is active. Not sure how you’d accomplish that without a programmable board. Or without LEDs, which the Kinesis doesn’t have either.

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            The switch selection on the Kinesis is quite poor last I checked; none of the stock options were particularly pleasant. Plus you can take an Ergodox in a backpack; the Kinesis is too large to move. (Less of an issue during pandemic days.)

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              This is just a useful reminder that everybody has a different decision procedure when it comes to keyboards. I use and endorse the use of the Kinesis Advantage, but then again – I’m happy with the switches, and I have two so I never need to carry one in a backpack.

              I am very interested by the Dactyl, which is the only split keyboard I am aware of that uses the Kinesis negative camber.

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              I’ve worn out four kinesis contoured, and I have two more in a box. The kinesis contoured firmware had some glitches where I can type faster than the keyboard can handle, and the bent circuit board wears out faster than the ergodox. I have four ergodox keyboards and only one is showing signs of wear. I had to repair my kinesis keyboards many times where the finger bowls connect to the center PCB. It’s much easier to modify the layout on ergodox keyboards as well. I could go into much more detail, such as my shoulders are too wide for the kinesis. I like the kinesis just fine, but ergodox are much better for me.

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                Personal preference. Some people have quite broad shoulders so need the flexibility, custom layouts, hot swappable switches, some might even want open source firmware, etc. I know I own one for a few of those reasons. The layout might be replicable in software but that’s a lot more effort and requires doing it on every OS you use. Ergonomics are an incredibly individual thing and it’s never one size fits all. Hell, I have plans to build my own keyboard that’s as perfect for me as possible but the Ergodox does the job for now.

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                  And the hardware, which you can’t do anything about, is indisputably much better.

                  Can’t say I agree with that. I used a Kinesis Advantage for a while and I found the build quality to be lacking. It felt cheap and plasticky, and the function keys were all wobbly and rubbery.

                  I tried an Ergodox EZ for a while too, and found it nicer in terms of hardware.

                  (They were both too big for my hands, making me stretch in uncomfortable ways, and the Keyboardio Model 01 was the keyboard that finally made it possible for me to type without pain again.)

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                  That was an interesting read. The author went deep down the rabbit hole, but took a different approach than most compared to what I have seen in r/ErgoMechKeyboards or various Discord channels. My experience is that people tend to gravitate towards either (a) very customized, keywell keyboards like the Dactyl Manuform (similar to the Kinesis models), or (b) fewer keys so that there is less hand movement, but usually 3 rows and 5 or 6 columns, like the Corne, GergoPlex or Kyria. Not to mention that Ergodox specifically is constrained by some legacy design decisions and is not necessarily very ergonomic, especially for people with normal sized hands.

                  It is also worth mentioning that there is a separate trend of going lower profile with Kailh Choc switches so that your wrists are more comfortable and you can perform key combos with multiple keys easier.

                  Of course there are many people who work on optimizing their keyboard layout, but people tend to converge to alternatives like Colemak DHm, Workman or RSTHD layouts, rather than coming up with their very customized version.

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                    I actually listened to the audiobook version, all the way to the end. It was nice!

                    I’ve recently helped a friend program his layout on a Planck, which is a bit of a challenge as it’s quite small. Looking at this layout reminds me how many buttons the ergodox has, and how easy it is to make a (very) custom layout like in this case.

                    I should find my ergodox and fix it.

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                      That was more interesting than expected: I don’t remember seeing other layouts that move the letters that would be in the innermost columns to the number row. He did that to avoid lateral movement of the index finger.

                      There are a number of interesting ideas in that piece, and sawing the trackball’s case for better positioning is something I’ve been considering lately.

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                        I get nasty pains from typing ‘too much’ and over the years have been making adjustments. I could just stick with typing as little as I do now (which is hardly anything compared to what I used to) in order to avoid too much pain, but I’d like to type more, so I’m hoping the Redox will be ergonomic enough to let me do that.

                        I decided I wanted to go for a split keyboard after spending some time getting used to two Apple Magic keyboards side by side, with some negative tilt. This sort-of works, but while they’re not wide, I still needed to overlap them in order to bring them close enough together to be comfortable, and couldn’t find a good way to get them stable and at proper angles.

                        I therefore have a Redox (from here) arriving soon.

                        I’ll probably be putting an Apple Magic Trackpad between the keyboard halves, to minimise hand movement and tension, though I’m not convinced I should do this. Having a separate mouse means having to pause and relax my hands for a few seconds, which seems like it might be a good thing - while it feels intuitively slower, I don’t think slower necessarily means worse for wrist pain.

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                          Did anyone have luck with an ortho-linear keyboard, that isn’t … tiny?

                          E. g. Planck is 4 x 12, Preonic is 5 x 12, … while I could easily fill a 5 x 15 layout or a 6 x 16 layout, or even a 7 x 13, or a 7 x 14.

                          I’d love to try an ortho-linear, but having to give up tons of columns (and 1 to 2 rows) is simply not something I’m interested in.

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                            Do you count the ergodox in this group or are you looking only for non-split boards? ErgoDox has columnar stagger (mild) and plenty of rows and columns.