Matias Ergo Pro Tour - On Tour - Signups Still Open

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Muirium
µ

30 Aug 2015, 22:21

Sounds like you've found your next keyboard. From what you said about your company already, I wouldn't put too much faith in getting one on the boss's dime in a timely fashion. But there's no harm in asking. I'm looking at the Keyboard Company's pricelist just now (ouch!) and they carry an impressive selection of them at least. You think you'd go for ANSI or ISO UK?

I found the Ergo Pro was pretty effective at teaching me to type in the classical touch-typist sense (without my hands flying around for a change) the longer I used it. Num Lock was still a maddening little bastard, but besides that I could type pretty well after sticking with it for a bit. I had the same thing as you with Backspace being "too far away" when I had the keyboard at an angle I liked, so I'd probably remap in software (Karabiner's the obvious choice on OS X) so backslash does that duty instead. That's what I'm already used to on my HHKB and many remap-friendly classic boards, after all.
chalks wrote: Muirium, in your other reviews, you disassembled the board. Any reason why you didn't do it for the Ergo Pro?
Hard to remember now. I think it was a combination of just how late I was getting the review done, and this tour started, plus not wanting to screw it up right before sending it on! From what I could tell, there shouldn't be anything especially interesting in there. I didn't open up my Ducky Shine 3 or NMB Space Invaders board when I reviewed them either, so I'm not always hyper diligent. The NovaTouch absolutely needed a good close look though. And I've been back inside it a few times since, for damping.

chalks

31 Aug 2015, 02:50

Choosing between ISO and ANSI is going to be tricky. All of the keyboards I have used since my first PC in 1996 have been UK ISO. My Novatouch is ISO too. It would be nice to stick to a consistent layout and go for an ISO Ergo Pro too.

But adapting to the ANSI Ergo Pro was much easier than I thought it was going to be. On the Matias forum on Geekhack, Matias himself suggests that he is looking at PBT keycaps. Assuming that Ergo Pro PBT keycaps are made available, I suppose they are more likely to be ANSI than ISO. So that would be a reason to get an ANSI Ergo Pro. I have a set of Granite keycaps so I know I prefer their slightly rougher texture. And of course ANSI opens up a wider range of conventional layout keyboards/keycaps for any future purchases.

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Muirium
µ

31 Aug 2015, 12:11

I grew up using ISO, too. What made me want to switch to ANSI was the miserable slim ISO return key that Apple puts on their laptops.

American to a fault, Apple keyboards are half a unit short on the right, and have been for decades. That works great on ANSI (so long as keycap compatibility is of no concern) but ISO was clearly an afterthought for them. Here you wind up with "anorexic enter". I never realised how annoying that could be until I settled in with my first Mac and forever hit the bloody side of the case! It was a 12 inch PowerBook, with an edge to edge keyboard. And in all my years using it I never did adapt to hitting Return a row higher up. No, I always hit it by the slim part.

Much to my amusement today, I never even realised there was such a thing as ANSI at the time. I only discovered that Apple made better keyboards in US layout when I got into the Mac rumors scene (around the time of the Intel transition) and saw much more elegant looking keyboards on the future laptop leaks. To my amazement, even Apple's then current hardware had those keyboards when I checked on the store! So I resolved that my next Mac would have an American keyboard.

When I got my hands on ANSI, I found it better immediately. Even the Mac's keyboard combos are meant for ANSI. The backtick / tilde key is up above Tab, where it belongs. Left Shift is easier to reach. And Return is transformed. Boom! ANSI fan for life. Well, until I found out about the HHKB. Whose advancements on ANSI I like even more.

So yeah, I always go ANSI when I have a chance. And I'm far from alone here on DT, many of us Europeans are similar.

As for keycap compatibility, that's generally not a consideration for the Ergo Pro. It's an odd beast. But if Matias comes through on PBT caps for it, well, I suppose there is always a better chance for ANSI. Surely most their customers are ANSI US.

What really matters though is how it feels to you. If you're accommodating fine, I say go for ANSI. But that's the question.

chalks

06 Sep 2015, 21:13

The Ergo Pro is now on its way to Spikebolt.

Yes, I've noticed Apple's slim return too. (I'm currently typing on an Apple Wireless at home and a Novatouch at work.) I'm guessing it was introduced with the current aluminium keyboards. I have a white plastic keyboard that still had traditional key caps, rather than thin chiclet ones, on a membrane from early 2006 that has a regular sized ISO enter. It came with the first Intel iMac.

I think I'll get an Ergo Pro in ANSI. It will be mostly for the left shift key. As left control and left shift are the same width on the Ergo Pro, I can slide my pinky in a bit, rather than having to stretch out for them.

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Muirium
µ

06 Sep 2015, 22:03

Intel? Heh, even my first Mac had it. (2003 PowerBook.) But it was far from a new thing back then either:

Image

Original Macintosh keyboard, 1984. Note the 1.5 unit backspace. It influenced the design of the HHKB. But fortunately not that horrible Return key! Then as now, the ANSI model was just fine. ISO was an afterthought.

chalks

07 Sep 2015, 02:17

Interesting, I did not know that.

I wonder why Apple put a full size ISO return on this board and then took it away again on its successor, the aluminium keyboard.
AppleKbFullSizeIsoEnter.jpg
AppleKbFullSizeIsoEnter.jpg (139.46 KiB) Viewed 1719 times
Apologies for the picture quality and the dirt.

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Muirium
µ

07 Sep 2015, 03:10

That board's a war crime. I had the ISO model too. It was the one that first made me notice what a difference keyboards can make. Because it was just so vile! Worst domes I've ever used. And the dirt display case!

Meanwhile, 1990s Apple's much beloved old warship the AEK II also played silly buggers in ISO, so it's not just a compact form factor thing:

Image

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shreebles
Finally 60%

07 Sep 2015, 12:17

Having never tried Matias switches, I would really like to give a try to the Ergo Pro... Is there any way to get into the tour late? Or perhaps the next one?

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Muirium
µ

07 Sep 2015, 14:29

Late entrants are welcome. I'll add you to the list. And maybe reword the first post to make this more obvious…

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shreebles
Finally 60%

07 Sep 2015, 15:52

Yes, thank you, see I was anxious because I feared I would not be put at the bottom. With the result of this tour taking longer and some people waiting more than they should have (with the initial planning). I do not want to upset anyone and hope that those who don't approve speak up.

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Muirium
µ

07 Sep 2015, 16:01

I order things by geography. In your case, you're second last in the Germany group. Last spot is reserved for someone who will be crossing in and out of Switzerland with the board. We definitely don't want to trigger customs fees by mailing repeatedly over the EU border!

andrewjoy

07 Sep 2015, 17:42

chalks wrote: Interesting, I did not know that.

I wonder why Apple put a full size ISO return on this board and then took it away again on its successor, the aluminium keyboard.
AppleKbFullSizeIsoEnter.jpg
Apologies for the picture quality and the dirt.

I have loads of them in work. I would rather replace them all with quiet pro mac version but finance won't go for it.

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Muirium
µ

07 Sep 2015, 18:07

"Look, I've no idea what's going on, but I've got people here without keyboards. There's none left. Yeah, that's what I'm saying. Zero. Everyone's just sitting here, waiting on hardware. How are they meant to work? Right, sure, I'm on it. I'm going to get some heavy stuff no one can walk out with so easy this time. Yeah, real old looking! No one wants that. Perfect! You got it."

Puts down phone. Grins widely at empty office. Starts putting out the Apple keyboard trash.

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Spikebolt
√(4) != -2

09 Sep 2015, 12:48

I have received the keyboard and am typing on it right now. It's kinda weird because I'm not really sure how I am supposed to be using this.

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Muirium
µ

09 Sep 2015, 16:24

That's pretty much the day 1 Ergo Pro experience! There's no single "right" way to use it. Flip the feet open and experiment to find what suits you.

I liked it best without the wristrest attached. Took a while for me to try that, though. Makes the board much smaller on the desk, which I heavily prefer.

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Spikebolt
√(4) != -2

09 Sep 2015, 18:03

The flat position seems to be the most confortable one to me but I haven't tried removing the feet yet. I might do it tomorrow, need to bring a screw driver to work heh. Adapting to this keyboard was very easy specially since I already touch type (ish) so everything is running smoothly. As everyone else I also removed the Num Lock key because it is annoying as hell.

So far I think this board is interesting, feels super sturdy but the low quality keycaps are really putting me off. It's a bit early to judge if I really like the switches or not but so far I'm not a huge fan.

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sphinx
Major Bummer

10 Sep 2015, 14:26

im back!

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Muirium
µ

10 Sep 2015, 14:35

Just a few weeks to go then! You're last in Portugal.

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Spikebolt
√(4) != -2

11 Sep 2015, 16:41

I don't wanna seem too rash but I can't stand these switches anymore and will be passing the keyboard to the next person: yobinad.

Really love the idea, I think it is a great product with a very sturdy feeling. The cheap ABS keycaps and the switches kill it for me, they really do. I will write a more detailed collection of thoughts later tonight.

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Muirium
µ

11 Sep 2015, 16:45

Yeah, those switches were a disappointment to me too. I'm used to classic Alps. Those Matias switches are no comparison! Blech.

PM Yobinad for a shipping address, or walk it on over, whatever suits you guys in DT's Portuguese squad!

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Spikebolt
√(4) != -2

11 Sep 2015, 16:51

I already PMed him to ask for meeting details. I believe he is also from the Lisbon area but I'm not sure.

If he is not from the Lisbon area I would suggest that sphinx would jump next, because we work close and would save shipping costs.

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Muirium
µ

11 Sep 2015, 17:01

That's cool by me. Sphinx is back, and originally had first place in Portugal because he asked earlier. You take it on over to him if Yobinad is out of town.

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Spikebolt
√(4) != -2

11 Sep 2015, 20:45

So here's some lost thoughts about this product.

I think there's definitely a market for these kinds of ergonomic devices. I spend at least 8 hours of my day typing so I would like to use a device that harms me the least.

On the first day I was completely overwhelmed. How was I supposed to use this device in an ergonomically superior way? Well I guess just a bit apart of each other is okay, I guess. Tried all the available positions and the flat one just a bit apart seemed to be the most comfortable.

I'm not sure if the manual for this device was missing or if only comes from that quick guide but it could really benefit from an actual user's guide. The DIP switches were totally hidden under a key, which in my opinion is a very poor spot to place dip switches, specially without a user's manual. I tried to find the users manual on matias website but I even had trouble finding this device because its portrait is just a sketched device instead of an actual picture like all other keyboards. The keyboard page referenced a user's manual but no PDF was provided. Such a shame.

The keyboard feels really well built: it's heavy, doesn't creek and looks extremely solid. Unfortunately its thin ABS keycaps are pretty bad. Maybe I'm just being picky but I've typed with thick keys for months now and these keycaps felt really awful to me. Another thing that I disliked was the different heights of the keys on the bottom row. There's 3-4 different heights for the keycaps in the bottom row, which makes it look really funky. Not sure if this is supposed to be ergonomic, I'm gonna guess it is. This is probably just me being ignorant, but it was visually unappealing.
Replacing these keycaps would be an impossible task, for sure. However I know that Matias is addressing this problem so that's a good think.

Another thing that caught my eye was the cable that connects the two pieces of keyboard. I don't really appreciate this kind of "rolling" cables, they always stop working sooner rather than later. Would prefer a small cable than using this. Just a personal preference.

Now the one thing that made this keyboard unusable for me was the switches. I can't really specify why I hate them, but I do. They lack feedback but they aren't quite linear. They sort of feel like browns but heavier and with a slightly bigger "trap door". I tried to use them anyway, hoping I would eventually get used to them but I just couldn't. When I returned to my HHKB it was such a relief. The HHKB felt way more ergonomic because of the switches alone.

I will be passing the keyboard to yobinad sometime next week.

chalks

12 Sep 2015, 15:14

I also prefer the feel of Topre switches to Matias. But if I want to get a split keyboard, what choices do I have?

From the non-mech side there's Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic, Goldtouch or Kinesis Freestyle.

Then roughly in order of increasing price there's the Ergo Pro (Matias quiet click), TECK (Kailh), Kinesis Advantage (Cherry Brown) and Maltron (MX ?). These are reasonably easy to obtain meaning that I can click Buy Now on some site and get one delivered straightaway.

Finally there are ones that require waiting and/or are hard to obtain and/or are really expensive ErgoDox (MX), Keyboard.io (Matias quiet click), Esrille (MX) and uTron (Topre). In this category I would also put a DIY board or rare vintage models like IBM M15.

Have I missed anything?

As my hand has almost fully recovered and as I've just received some large unexpected bills, my Ergo Pro purchase is on hold. So I've more time to think about what split keyboard to get. It feels unsatisfactory that the Ergo Pro is almost the default choice by being mechanical, straight forward to obtain and relatively reasonably priced rather than for more positive factors.

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Muirium
µ

12 Sep 2015, 15:30

Bearing in mind that the Ergo Pro ain't cheap, it is indeed relatively cheap among ergo mechs, as you said. The whole point of a cheap option is to be "good enough", while the high end stuff has to justify its price. So, although you're right that the ergo mech market feels unsatisfactory, it is technically doing its job. Expensive stuff costs more for a reason. Usually…

The µTRON is a very special piece of kit. I briefly played with one some months ago at GitHub. But definitely a unicorn keyboard! And there's the catch: as I don't need an ergo at all, I can be fussy and set my eyes on that one while in no rush to actually get it. The trouble lies for all the people who really do need an ergo, and need to somehow justify a mech.

Matias has made something very smart for that market. As much as I dislike the caps and switches.

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Spikebolt
√(4) != -2

12 Sep 2015, 16:54

I have delivered the keyboard to yobinad a few moments ago.

The keyboard has a market for sure, it's smart and has really great build quality. I don't know much about the ergo market but I'll take your word for it, I had no idea this was a "cheap" ergo keyboard. Ergo aside, though, I don't think the feeling is good enough to justify its price tag. That doesn't mean the product is overpriced, just nothing that I would personally value that highly.

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Ray

18 Sep 2015, 10:37

okay, sign me up ;)

idollar
i$

18 Sep 2015, 10:46

I know that I am too late for this, but would be possible to be added in the German path ?
I would not keep it for more than a week.

A "no, it is not possible. You are too late" will be accepted.

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yobinad
\m/

20 Sep 2015, 22:25

Delivered the keyboard today to sphinx.

I just wanted to try the matias quiet switches. Overall it seems to be a nice keyboard, but those keycaps ruins it. They make the switches not so quiet.

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sphinx
Major Bummer

20 Sep 2015, 22:40

got the keyboard, i like the sturdiness of it and the palm rests are perfect, but the keycaps seem a bit wobly

the weird thing is that the space bar on the left hand keyboard is working as backspace..could it be because im using it in windows?

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