Photos and Features
If you never saw our review of the original ErgoDox the entire layout might be a little jarring or different. Basically the ErgoDox was originally designed by a user named Dox who was inspired by the Key64. He designed a split keyboard design. The original design and the newer Infinity ErgoDox both have a columnar layout meaning the keys are all in vertical column where a normal keyboard would have staggered columns. The idea behind that is that the only reason keys were ever staggered was because of the original typewriter designs that needed to be staggered to keep the keys from jamming. The thought process is that a curved row design that fits the shape of your hang with straight columns is the most ergonomic design. That of course is debatable and depends on the person, but that is the idea behind the ErgoDox. Each hand is split up with 38 keys each. Most of the keys falls under the fingers but there are 6 on each halve in the thumb cluster. With the keyboard split in half like this you can pick how far apart you want them spaced and at what angles they sit to better fit you. This is vastly different from a lot of the ergonomic keyboards that angle the layout but push the two halves up against each other.
All in all, the ErgoDox Infinity when sitting with a small gap takes up about the same amount of room as a small full sized keyboard enough though you are getting less than a TenKeyLess in keys. Of course the ErgoDox infinity is completely programmable so what keys you actually get are up to you.
The ErgoDox Infinity uses a layered acrylic design for its case. This seems to be one of the cheaper ways to do a custom case short of having an injection molded design made. That said I would love to see them go that direction if it would help lower the costs of the Infinity at all. If not, it would be really cool to keep with the completely customizable design an allow people to pick from different colored acrylics like some manufactures like FalbaTech do with the original ErgoDox. Even Massdrop’s original package gave you a few top panel options. Speaking of the original design, I’m surprised the ErgoDox Infinity didn’t have an option for full hand cases like before. You do still get to pick from a huge selection of keyswitches from multiple manufactures and you can even pick from a few different keycap options. The kit that was sent to us included clear Cherry MX switches, my preferred switch, and black DSA keycaps from Signature Plastics.
So here is the layout of one halve of the ErgoDox Infinity. Like I said before you have 38 keys per half. Most of the keys are a standard 1u. Down in the thumb cluster two of the keys are 2u’s. The original ErgoDox gave me issues here when I typed on it because these keys were unstabilized. The Infinity though fixes that issue and both keys are stabilized so I’m hoping when I get into testing those keys don’t bind up on me like before. There are a few 1.5u keys, four on the left row and two sitting vertical on the right. This these would be your modifier keys as well as the keys that control what layer you are typing on. Because of the number of keys the Infinity can’t fit every single key on the top layer, so much like a normal keyboard with a function layer the Infinity can flip through an infinite number of layers to have every key and every key layout that you might want. It all just depends on how you configure it. This is also why the three keycap options from Massdrop are all without legends on them, they can’t really send you legends on keycaps if everyone’s design will be different. Speaking of the keycaps though, I noticed that our DSA keycaps once again have a few weird issues much like with the 60% Infinity I reviewed. Specifically, a lot of the keys have a curved in shape on the outside edges. I don’t have this problem with any of my doubleshot DSA keycaps, but it seems to be an ongoing issue with the Signature Plastics single shot caps or at least the caps being sent to Massdrop.
The biggest change going to the Infinity was the inclusion of a small RGB backlit LCD screen on each hand. Development of the screen hasn’t gone very far but the main use for the screen is to show you what layer you are on. They do this by showing you the number of course but you can also set colors for each layer and the backlighting changes to that color as well. That seems to be the only use for it right now but I hope they add more functionality in the future. If nothing else, I would love to be able to see the time and maybe my windows volume level on it. Things could be more advanced with things like showing what song you are playing but I think going that far would require running software all of the time.
So while both of the Infinity ErgoDox halves are designed for their specific hand, the cases are actually the same. In fact, they are designed so that the only different part is the PCB, the acrylic case just gets each piece flipped over. It is about an inch thick and made of multiple layers, all but the one are a clear acrylic. Up on the top edge, just like the original, the Infinities have their connections. This time however they are all USB 3.0 and both halves have the same two connections. You have one normal USB port like you would see on your computer than the other is the USB 3 version of a Micro-USB port. In fact, the left half of the connection supports a regular old USB 2 Micro USB plug. I’m sure however that the keyboard won’t work with it hooked up that way though. Both halves of the Infinity have the same two ports meaning you can daisy chain starting from the left or right hand depending on what is best for your layout.
The bottom of the ErgoDox infinity is really the only time you can see the PCB. The design uses clear acrylic panels for the entire casing but with the use of an aluminum backplate now the view from the top is just silver. Here though we can take a peek at my soldering job at any point and check out the nice Input Club logo up in the top right corner. The original ErgoDox kit from Massdrop had the same design, what is different though is the change in hardware to keep it all together. Before they used acorn nuts on the bottom as feet and to hold the casing together. For the Infinity they used an almost flush mounted posts. These keep the Infinity sitting a little lower. That said, just like the original the design is begging for rubber feet to prevent damage to your desk and to keep things from sliding around.
With the move to full USB 3.0 and with the controller built into each hand the Infinity actually runs each hand as its own keyboard. This means you don’t have to run the weird bridge cable made out of an audio cable like on the old design. Massdrop and Input Club include to USB 3.0 cables, one is about a foot long and it can connect the two hands together. The second is slightly longer but still shorter than it should be and it connects the pair to your PC. If you want, you could also get two long cables and hook both hands directly into your PC or run just one half. That last option really caught my attention for gaming and I’m going to spend time trying it out later on.
While the Infinity ErgoDox and the Original ErgoDox share a lot of the same features including the shape, key layout, and they both even have acrylic cases. The big thing visually that stood out to me when I put them next to each other was how the Infinity has a cleaner look with its use of an aluminum backpate. The original used acrylic for its backplate and this gave the keyboard a more hacker look because right from the top we could see the full PCB and the Teensy controller right up top.
As far as the overall shape goes the new Infinity seems large but when you put it over the original ErgoDox design we can see that its actually slightly smaller. The bottom shape is all the same but up at the top edge the Infinity matches the large top bezel of the original with the LED screen but then angles down where the original was straight. They were able to do this because up in this area is where the Teensy was on the original and with moving to USB 3 connections the Infinity takes up a little less space along the top of the PCB.
Speaking of the USB 3.0 connections here we can see how the Infinity has both its USB 3 in and USB 3 out within about a half an inch of each other where the original ErgoDox had the USB 2 over on the left and then the microphone connection that connected the two halves together over on the right. On the original both connections were heavily recessed as well. Where with the new design it is flush mounted.
I mentioned it earlier but with both Dox’s next to each other we can better see how the new design looks much cleaner.