So now that you have an idea of what the ErgoDox is all about. I’m sure you are curious how it worked out. Well when I first hooked u the ErgoDox the best way I could describe using it would be like having a blindfold on in a room that you have never been in. Even with a standard keyboard I struggle a little with blank keycaps, so trying to adjust to a completely new design with blank keycaps was especially difficult. Well one of the reasons you have blank keycaps is because there isn’t any one specific key layout that everyone uses. I started off using the standard QWERTY layout using Massdrops tool. This is close enough to a standard keyboard layout that if you can get your hands in the right place you will at least know where all of the letters are. Adjusting to the thumb mounted keys took a little more trouble.
Here is a photo of Massdrop’s layout
To help me I pulled a good portion of the keycaps off the ErgoDox and I pulled the Skull Squadron keycaps off of my Novatouch and started putting them on the ErgoDox where I could. I used this specific set because it is also a DSA keycap just like the blank keycaps. Most of the 1.5u and 2u keys didn’t have matching keys so for those I kept the blanks. Adding a way to visually look at the ErgoDox and see that I have my hands in the right place made a HUGE difference. I went from hardly being able to type to instantly being able to carry on a conversation with people.
From here I just had a few issues where I would hit backspace or delete when I wanted to space or enter and I would hit enter a lot when I wanted to space. I decided to change things up slightly and tune the key layout to something that worked a little better for me. For starters the multiple layers was completely throwing me off so my goal was to drop the layers and then move a few of the other keys around to where they felt more comfortable. Ironically I know that by moving a few of these things around I ended up losing some of the efficiency of the ErgoDox’s layout because I moved them into locations closer to what they would be on a standard keyboard. That said this is the layout that worked best for me. I’ve included a photo below and HERE is a copy of the actual .hex file as well if you want to give it a try.
Once I finally got the key layout setup in a way that I could function like a normal person I could finally step back a little and see how everything was performing. I did run into a few issues. For starters the USB cord wasn’t even close to being long enough for standard use. When setting things up I hooked it up to my desktop USB hub but even then it wasn’t long enough. I swapped to a 6 foot long cord and didn’t have any other issues with the length. Secondly I mentioned earlier that the feet of the ErgoDox are actually the acorn nuts. This does a good job of keeping the ErgoDox up off of your desk but without a few rubber feat it does slide around a little. I’m going to look for a few small stick on feet to fix this issue in the future. It should be an easy fix just like the USB cord. The third issue I had is a little more difficult. When I use the 2u keys down near my thumbs they do sometimes bind up a little due to the lack of stabilizers. As long as you get a good centered push on the key this isn’t an issue. If you swap these to 1.5u keycaps you don’t really run into the issue as well.
On the good side of things, once I adjusted to the layout the ErgoDox is great to type on. The clear switches that I went with are nice a tactile without being obnoxiously loud like a blue switch. Being able to move each half of the keyboard individually I could really get them positioned perfectly for my body type. After typing for hours my shoulders felt a little better, with a standard layout I tend to hunch over slightly to get my arms together a little more to get my hands in the right places. Up to this review I didn’t have enough time to adjust to the ErgoDox enough to be able to fully get back up to my normal typing speed but once I had made my adjustments I was up close enough to be more than functional.
Comparing the ErgoDox to the Truly Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard that I covered a few years ago I do prefer having the option to be able to pull the halves apart farther. Adjusting to the new layout took a similar amount of time with the exception that the Truly Ergonomic did have keycaps printed with all of the extra keys that I didn’t have on the ErgoDox making it a little easier to find rarely used keys when I needed them.