In a previous post I have admitted my keyboard addiction. I go through keyboards at a ridiculous pace, in a quest for the perfect piece of typing technology.
Lately I’ve been enjoying my Atreus, which I talked about in a previous post. .
My latest interest is the Keyboardio Model 1, which is still an active Kickstarter.
I’d had my eye on it for some time, as it combined many of the traits of some of the best keyboards I have. It uses Mathias switches, like the Mathias Laptop Pro I use as my everyday office keyboard, but with an ergonomic layout reminiscient of the InfoGrip BAT Keyboard. It also sports a wooden case, much like my Atreus, and is split into two halves, like the Kinesis Freestyle.
So after some consideration, I signed up to back the kickstarter, but it would be nearly a year before I got to see my keyboard - or so I thought.
By sheer coincidence, I was in Vancouver to see a client at the same time that the good folks that run Keyboardio were in town giving a look at their product in advance. I quickly signed up, and got to put hands on what will, I very much suspect, be my new favorite keyboard.
Some of the keyboards at the showing, along with a few of the vistors.
Some keyboards in use, along with one of the co-creators looking on in the background…
One just like this will be mine some good day in the future. A model 01, with the Mathias clicky switches.
They say “pics or it didn’t happen” - well, it happened. That’s my mitt on one half of the clicky model 01. And on the other half… Proof - they do exist, and they are amazing.
This is a model 01 plugged in, showing the backlight to the keys.
And a slightly closer angle, almost a hands-eye view, so to speak.
The Touch Test
So I already knew the model 01 was good looking - pictures were the one thing I had prior to this evening. A keyboard is all about feel, though, not so much looks.
And this one definitely delivers.
At first touch, your hands fall very naturally onto the solid wood body of the model 01. I hesitate to call it a “case”, as it’s not just a hollow box that holds some keys - it’s a solid slab of maple that feels very substantial to the touch, like a fine musical instrument.
The two halves mean you can separate your hands by whatever a comfortable distance is for you. I use my Kinesis set as far apart as it will go - but the model 01 can go even further, and allow you to adjust the angle of each side independantly.
Then the keys - unlike most keyboards, each key is not identical on the model 01, with the same flat or slightly-curved surface.
The model 01 has a custom key-cap sculpted for each finger position, for each key, angled to meet your finger just at the right point. It’s quite hard to describe until you put your hand on it, but it’s like the keyboard is helping you get your hand into the right spot, and helping your fingers hit the right keys.
It’s quite impressive.
The feel, for me, was best on the clicky version, but even the quiet-key version had excellent travel and good tension, typical of the Mathias switches.
Those sculpted keycaps, however, make quite a difference, even to already excellent switches.
The extra weight means even when you start to get into a bit of speed, the keyboard has a rock-solid feel. I understand from the creators that they’re not quite satisfied with the feet - but even the way they are, this keyboard doesn’t jump around.
The typical F and J keys have the raised dot to let your fingers find them nicely, as well as a key in the curved bottom row that you operate with your thumb, as described on the Keyboardio site.
Even the function key, under the broad part of the thumb, seemed intuitive in a few seconds - I suspect it would not take long to get used to the key layout on this keyboard.
Even though I was only able to spend 45 minutes or so admiring the model 01, it was well worth it, and I look forward to my very own instance of this impressive keyboard arriving when it’s ready.
I discovered I had made one error in backing Keyboardio, which I was able to fix this morning: I only ordered one :) Now I have two on the way - one for at home, one for the office.
Congratulations to the Keyboardio team, that’s quite a piece of hardware you’ve got there!