Overall and Final Verdict
When the ErgoDox came in, I was a little nervous. Not only did I have to put everything together without it blowing up but also I knew from previous experiences that adjusting to a key layout like this doesn’t happen overnight. Looking back over the whole experience, I have really enjoyed it all. I thought that building the ErgoDox would just be a means to using the keyboard but in the end putting it all together was a fun experience in itself. Not to mention there is a little pride when you get it all working and when you can show off your hard work. Looking forward I’m actually seriously considering looking at other custom keyboard options, I’ve always wanted to try out a 60% keyboard for example. Massdrop has an interesting build called the Infinity Keyboard that is especially interesting.
Using the ErgoDox did have a few issues. The lack of stabilizers on the 2u keys required that I be a little more careful to not bind them up. The lack of rubber feet and the short USB cable that Massdrop included were also disappointing. Both show that the kit could still use a little more refining, but both are easy fixes as well. Let’s not forget just how much of a pain those tiny diodes were to install as well. Massdrop could really make things easier with an optional PCB that includes pre-installed diodes, although I think I would personally still take on the challenge of installing them myself, especially now that I have a little more experience with them. The other issue that you will run into with the ErgoDox is just how long it takes to relearn. I was able to speed things up for myself by putting custom keycaps on and by tweaking the key layout to something to work better for me though.
With everything together, I think it is the customization that really sets the ErgoDox apart the most. Using Massdrop’s tool you can setup as many layers as you need to get the ideal setup for yourself. If you wanted, you could create a layer specific to any game or software that you might run frequently for example. The ergonomic design was also useful as well, especially being able to pull the two halves apart more. There is also a little bit of exclusivity with an ErgoDox, you aren’t going to go out to a LAN and see 15 people running the same keyboard as you, that is for sure!
One of the other things to consider for the ErgoDox is that while you are building it, this is still an expensive little build. Massdrop does a great job of keeping things cheap of course but with a price of $199.99, but it is still more expensive than your average higher end keyboard. However, keep in mind this is still considerably less than sourcing your own parts. I started to price out building your own ErgoDox kit and you are looking at close to $230 before you even add in keycaps, resisters, and diodes. The best part is with a kit like this everything works perfectly together and you have easy to follow instructions. Not only has Massdrop made getting an ErgoDox much cheaper, but they have also done a great job at making building it simpler as well. So While it is more expensive than a standard keyboard I think it still deserves the Good Value award for being so much cheaper than putting together your own kit.