Comparing KeyboardIO M01 and Ergodox EZ

(mrpeterobrien) #34

Hey guys, apologies for reviving this thread after a number of months, would be very interested in opinions though.

As a long time (and happy & grateful) user of ergodox ez I’m wondering how folks are actually physically pressing the function keys on the keyboardio.

For bg, I preordered Keyboardio but quickly also bought EZ due to the delays. Due to other commitments etc, haven’t had time to try Keyboardio out until about now really.

The thing that makes me want to use Keyboardio (despite the already sunk financial investment) is what I feel is an under utilisation of my thumbs on the EZ. From the thumb cluster, I can’t reach the far inner row, or the key above one to the inner.

Are folks pressing the keyboardio function keys with the upper or lower joint of the thumbs or more the bottom part of the wrist, and is this sustainable for them? I have been getting thumb pain after only a few hours. Guessing hitting these keys with upper part of thumb would be most comfortable to me, but it does rule out using more than one thumb key at once.

Would really appreciate any instruction or reflection from an experienced user of the keyboardio for thumb use. Photos/video could be really handy :slight_smile:

I could also do with seeing if I can be a bit smarter and use less mouse/trackpad. Any more recent reflections/learning on that subject comparing keyboards/firmwares I would find very interesting.

Thanks in advance (and to the folks who made these 2 excellent keyboards!)

(Gergely Nagy) #35

I’m hitting the thumb keys with the upper part of my thumb. I have put my modifiers on the thumb arc, and all of them are OneShot, so I never have to chord them. My other thumb keys are Space, Backspace, Esc, and Enter - I rarely need to chord those either.

This way pressing any of the thumb keys is convenient, I never have to worry about holding more than one (per hand), and thus my thumbs are happy with this setup.

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(Michael Richters) #36

I use my thumb’s middle joint (of three). While I’m doing that, the tip of that same thumb can comfortably press any one key in the corresponding thumb arc.

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(mrpeterobrien) #37

Sounds awesome, thanks. OneShot https://github.com/keyboardio/Kaleidoscope-OneShot sounds like the way forward :smile: . Will check out out when time allows.

Just wonder, do you still use the FN (bottom thumb) keys much/at-all?

(Gergely Nagy) #38

Yeah, those two are my layer switch keys (each a different one, both of them OneShot).

(mrpeterobrien) #39

Thanks just found https://github.com/algernon/Model01-sketch/blob/master/README.md which looks like a bit of a treasure trove

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(Nick Handel) #40

I got my M01 today, having received my Ergodox on Friday.

The few days I spent with the Ergodox got me somewhat used to the columnar layout.

So based on a few hours with the M01 and a few days with the EZ, the M01 is in a different league.

Once I’ve spent a bit longer I’ll post something more detailed, but for anyone who hasn’t used a columnar layout before and is choosing between these two things, get an M01.

The best way to summarise the difference? Design. Real, thoughtful, clever design.

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(tiltowaitt) #42

Though I appreciate the Ergodox for being what I see as a “step in the right direction,” it’s always seemed to me to be more of a half-step. I’ve never used one, though, so I’ll be curious to read your thoughts.

(Ben Gemperline) #43

I got an Ergodox Infinity from the first Massdrop release of it. I used it for about a year and a half before I got my first M01. I had used a Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite for about a decade before that, and the Ergodox fit my split keyboard needs. I even have the same Matias quiet click keys on both the M01 and the Ergodox. What I learned is that I like the flexibility of having a programmable keyboard, but the Ergodox left me wanting something more. The Ergodox layout felt a bit confusing to me. The outer 4 keys on each of the thumb clusters were clumsy and hard to reach, and the extra column on the outside left me keeping things like SHIFT on my pinkies instead of moving them to the thumb. The M01 took a bit longer to get used to typing on (about a month, rather than a week with the Ergodox), but the keys and placement feel so much better. I actually have 3 of the M01s now because I like them so much (one at work on my desk, one at home on my desk, and one in the travel case that I take with me if I’m going to be doing a lot of typing out and about).

The M01 is definitely a better feeling keyboard, IMO.

(tiltowaitt) #44

Your complaints about the Ergodox’s thumb clusters matches my own complaints regarding the Kinesis Advantage.

(Alex Telon) #45

Nickhandel, I found your comment interesting. I trying to decide between the M01 and Ergodox EZ. Has your oppinion changed over the last 22d since you posed this? It would be greatly appreciated!

(Nick Handel) #46

Alex, I’m still using the M01 and I still think it’s definitely much the better of the two. However, a few more weeks, I can be a bit more specific. The M01 is a slightly bigger commitment, it’s more different from a normal keyboard.

Sclupting
The sculpting of the M01 commits you to the “touch typing” stance for everything. That may seem like a weird thing to say, but there are times when I’m not intensively typing (e.g. web research, or using the AWS console), where copy/past, tabbing etc. are done with muscle memory on a normal board. You’re not thinking “hold command and hit X” - you just do the thing you know is “cut”, and I’d always use my thumb and index finger (at least, on a Mac keyboard). With the M01, I have to “approach” it as though I were starting to type, and then think “command X”, and use my ring finger.

My EZ is a “glow” with plain (not sculpted) caps, so it’s more like a regular keyboard in this respect - it’s a compromise, for sure, but there are upsides. Now, I think in another three months, when I have my Keyboardio black belt, I may be grateful for this enforced change.

Switches
I got my EZ with Kailh Thick Gold Clicky switches (I work from home) and I absolutely love them. The M01 with the Quiet Click Keys is technically brilliant, but when you’re typing it feels a bit “rattly”. I think it’s to do with the sculpted keys inevitably meaning you don’t push them straight down - and the way the QuietClick’s actuate. You have to remember to force yourself not to push them to the bottom of their travel. They don’t feel as though they’re going to work with that light touch, but when you do it’s a marvel. However, they lack the audible feedback you get from a click, which helps you learn to only push them as hard as you need to.

However, I compared my speed with the two, and guess what - I’m way faster on the M01 - peaked at 117wpm (no caps or punctuation) compared with about 105 on the EZ. For actual typing I reckon it’s got to be the best keyboard ever invented. And it is an invention, not an evolution of someone else’s design.

Key cap printing
I prefer the Ergodox approach to printing on keys - i.e. the non-“letter” keys are blank. Is it US or UK? I say it’s UK and have no OCD angst that it’s a # above the 3 not a £. I’m anally retentive and wouldn’t remap keys if it contradicts what’s printed on them. I’d find that too confusing whilst I’m learning and it would grate. I’d rather have completely blank caps for the left and right most columns on both sides, as well as the thumb clusters, so I don’t feel like I’m “hacking” it if I want to remap things. I’d probably stick 95% with the defaults, since Jesse’s design is so great and the result of months of research and testing, but why print “any” on a key? Or even “prog” for that matter? Same goes for cursor keys. It’s going to take me a very long time to get used to HJKL but my OCD stops me remapping them because it would confuse me too much. Maybe in the end I’ll be faster with the defaults. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m forced (by my own nature, plus the printing) to keep them. But I’d still rather have the option.

Configurator
EZ wins hands down. It just works, and although it’s not “live” like Chrysalis (which is a work in progress), for me that’s not a big deal, and personally I don’t like having to copy the firmware (read-only) layers and set the default to my new one. My OCD doesn’t like having those unused ones sitting there. I have a bit of programming knowledge but am no expert, and I’ll confess to being a bit frustrated by the compromises - use Chrysalis and you have to copy layers, reset the defaults, then you lose the numlock colour change without installing the colormap thing, and even then I couldn’t get it to work and reproduce the default behaviour. The only plugin I want is SpaceCadet, but of course as a plugin it’s more clunky to configure than the Chrysalis version, where every key has a switch for “do something else when held”, which is precisely what I want. As a result I still haven’t managed to set the M01 to include the minor changes I want. Despite valiant efforts in the Wiki and on GitHub it’s just not there “out-of-the-box” as it is with Ergodox, and you have to invest a lot of time figuring out how to do it, as well as choose between manually editing the sketch and going with the Chrysalis work-in-progress - and those two things are incompatible with one another and can’t be combined. I just want to make tiny tweaks to default, print a nice PDF and leave it on my third screen.

Summary
On three occasions over the past few weeks, I’ve got the Ergodox out to use instead because I love the switches so much and I kind of want it to be as good as the M01. I set it up in a way that’s really inspired by the M01’s thumb clusters. I enjoy the clicking, then realise I’m actually slower on it and it’s less comfortable, unplug it and go back to the M01. I also find I’m in no-mans-land muscle-memory wise - half the time I’m still page-downing on the M01 when I want shift, the other half I’m hitting the plastic board on the EZ with my thumb. Need to commit for a few months, and the M01 gets that committment.

I just wish it had blank keys except the actual letters (a la Ergodox), and a simple online configurator that works out of the box. OpenSource is obviously a beautiful, glorious thing, but it does mean you get lots of options and none of them really ready yet. If I were selling the M01 I’d have prioritised getting a simple GUI working that simply creates the map sketch for you, or compiles firmware ready to upload.

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(Alex Telon) #47

Thank you Nick! It has been difficult to find a good comparison between the two and you just gave me tons of good info, so thanks!

I am switching due to my “emacs pinky” acting up a bit again and the first one I buy will be for the office so I will need silent switches anyways so it sounds like one of the main benefits for Ergodox is negated since I would have to choose the silent red switches anyways.

However the configuration will be more annoying for me since it sounds like I will be configuring the keyboard more than you. Thats one of the things I loved reading about for the Ergodox EZ. However I can see that the tooling is open source and has active development so that is a big plus. If I want something added I might contribute :slight_smile:

Thanks again!

(lasse) #48

Sclupting
The sculpting of the M01 commits you to the “touch typing” stance for everything. That may seem like a weird thing to say, but there are times when I’m not intensively typing (e.g. web research, or using the AWS console), where copy/past, tabbing etc. are done with muscle memory on a normal board. You’re not thinking “hold command and hit X” - you just do the thing you know is “cut”, and I’d always use my thumb and index finger (at least, on a Mac keyboard). With the M01, I have to “approach” it as though I were starting to type, and then think “command X”, and use my ring finger.

I mapped fn + c/v/x/z to ctrl + c/v/x/z. Having that extra option helps me in causal situations. And it is not against the printing on the keys.

I really hope for you that you start modding once you get your blank keys. If you are annoyed: fix it. My typing and text editing speed increased vastly from that approach.

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(Nick Handel) #49

Never thought of doing that - will definitely try it. Thanks!

(Gergely Nagy) #50

FWIW, Chrysalis improved a lot in the past two months. We started getting somewhere at the end of November, and we’ve been making huge progress since, and are actively working toward a much better user experience, where you don’t have to care about read-only layers, or copying and whatnot. Run, edit, save, done. That’s the goal. I have a branch that does that, and this will be in the next release, too.

There’s so much more coming to Chrysalis as well… 2019 will be an interesting year. :wink:

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(Tré Ammatuna) #51

To chime in here as well. While I’ve never used the Ergodox for any extended time, I did do an extensive look into it when I was waiting on my 01. I borrowed a co-worker’s Ergodox for a couple days to try it out, as well as another co-worker’s Kinesis. For me it came down to 3 things:

The thumb and palm keys: I love these things on the 01. It’s very natural to just sweep across them vs trying to move my thumb up to hit the upper 2 rows of thumb keys on both of the others. The convex sculpting of them lend very nicely to this as well. It just seems very thought out. With the palm keys, I had no idea what I was going to think of them, as most other people that look at my keyboard don’t either, however, I seriously can’t stand not having them anymore.

Physical configuration: Not talking about the keys or anything here, that’s next, I’m talking about simply the ways you can set up your keyboard on your desk. The 01 is infinitely more customizable than the Ergodox here. Just look at the threads from people here and how they are using camera stands and custom mounts to pretty much do whatever they want with their keyboards.

Key layout/configuration: Ok, I definitely get it, Ergodox has the win for the GUI programmer, right now… However, as Algernon said, Chrysalis has come a LONG way in the past two months. In fact, the next release is going to bring things a lot closer. As one of the main people contributing to the project, I will definitely say that I think 2019 is going to be a great year for progress in that area. Taking away Chrysalis though, I will still say that while I have been coding for a bit now, I had never touched C++ before this and it has been pretty easy to get going and get things set the way I wanted them for the most part here (and I my layout is pretty drastically different than the defaults). Once we get programming macros into Chrysalis I may be able to move into using it as my sole configurator. As you said, if there’s something you want to see there, we’d very much welcome and help you to make it happen in Chrysalis!

I don’t think you can go wrong with either one, but that’s my $0.02. :smile:

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(Nick Handel) #52

IMO Chrysalis 0.4 removes the Ergodox advantage of the online configurator. It’s now better than the EZ version (the bottom pane is much more usable than the dropdowns you get with the EZ tool), and it will obviously keep getting better still. The next ask on my list would be to merge the colour editing with the layout editing (one main screen, two tabs below, one for colours, one for key mapping). It would be nice to be able to set a default colour for the entire layer (as you can with ErgoDox) and then be able to override that default key by key.

Macro building might be nice further down the line.

One question - if I were to modify the “num” key function in the first layer, would I lose the default colour behaviour (i.e. the “num” key goes blue and the active keys in layer one go red)?

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Keyboardio without programming knowledge
(Gergely Nagy) #53

We’re thinking about something of this sort. Most of the groundwork is already in, but we need to figure out a good way to present it, without making the UI feel crowded, overloaded or needlessly complex. This also conflicts with another idea, where we’d use colors to mark some special keys (oneshots, modifiers, macros, that kind of stuff).

In short, we agree, but designing an UX that makes sense around this is hard.

This is a good idea. Can you file a GitHub feature request about it?

'tis coming! We need to work on the macro plugin a bit, teach it to store macros in EEPROM too, and then we can build a macro editor into Chrysalis. It’s on the roadmap, likely coming sooner rather than later (but no ETA).

If you have a NumLock key on the first layer, that’ll have the blue breathing effect, no matter where you place it. If you don’t move it, but replace it, then yeah, the effect will be gone.

(Nick Handel) #54

We’re thinking about something of this sort. Most of the groundwork is already in, but we need to figure out a good way to present it, without making the UI feel crowded, overloaded or needlessly complex. This also conflicts with another idea, where we’d use colors to mark some special keys (oneshots, modifiers, macros, that kind of stuff).

I raised an enhancement request with some ideas on this. https://github.com/keyboardio/Chrysalis/issues/318
I changed my mind. Actually, I think a default colour determined by Key Type would be more useful than a default colour per layer. These could show semi-transparently on the key layout and could be overridden by a simple colour picker for each key as an extra row in the pane that pops up at the bottom. “hard” colour assignments could be shown as opaque colours. I also suggested using dog-ear corners to denote modifier types. IMO this is a less important enhancement than the ability to set colours.

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