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The new best keyboard

Considering the percentage of my day which is spent typing on a keyboard, it should come as no surprise that I might have thoughts on what makes a “good” versus a “bad” keyboard. In fact, I think everybody who uses a tool with this level of frequency should have thoughts on what qualities make variations of the tool good or bad.

This week I received a Kinesis Freestyle Pro based on a recommendation from a colleague. Over five years ago I had used an earlier model of a split keyboard from Kinesis, and while I found that the split keyboard allowed my chest to remain open and comfortable during the day, the dome-bubble keys gradually became inconsistent and unpleasant to work with.

Since then I have enjoyed a number of different keyboards with mechanical keys, but none of them have been very ergonomic. Mechanical keys have a very consistent and smooth feel for each press, ensuring that no one finger has to work harder than the other. The downsides to every mechanical keyboard I have used however have been that they’re almost never in an ergonomic form-factor and they are loud. For some the noise might be a feature, but for me it is a bug. Loud keys make it impossible to add notes while on a video call, or work closely with somebody in a shared office environment without being annoying! The Kinesis Freestyle Pro “Quiet” has neither of these defects and is thus far very pleasant to work with. The only downside, for a Vim user, is the somewhat distant placement of the Esc key, otherwise everything is properly in its place. While the price tag might be a bit high, I believe strongly in investing in good tools and my own health.

I used to refer to the Type 5 keyboard from Sun Microsystems as the keyboard I had most enjoyed using. It was smooth, relatively quiet, and was simply a joy to use. That keyboard I am reminded of with the Kinesis Freestyle Pro, with the added bonus of the split keyboard , it has definitely supplanted the Type 5 as the best keyboard I have used to date.