9th Jun, 2022

On the Ergodox EZ

In September 2021 I bought a keyboard with a weird key arrangement that was split in half for a lot of money. I've been using it almost daily for the last 9 months. Following are some thoughts on the keyboard that are neither complete, nor very structured and should under no circumstances be understood as a full review.

While I will talk critically about some aspects of the board, please keep in mind that I think that this is a really good keybard and I like it a lot.

The hardware & build quality

The Ergodox EZ on my messy desk

All in all, the Ergodox EZ is built really well. It's almost completely made of plastic, but it does not feel cheap at all. I did not modify it at all, so even though I have a version with tactile switches, the case makes it a rather loud keyboard. It does not sound nearly as good as my Niu Mini with an aluminium case and loubed Kailh Burnt Orange switches, but I can live with that. The stock keycaps feel good and have a nice profile.
That said, there are a few things that I do not like as much about the board.

The feet from the tilt/tent kit are hard to get in the right spot. With the tenting kit, the keyboard has three feet attached to it that can be adjusted in small steps to give the keyboard an angle. I like using it at an angle, it actually feels weird to use it when it's just lying flat on the table.
However, the process is not as easy as it sounds:
First, you have to find positions on all three feet of one half of the board that will make it stable while typing. Then you have to duplicate that exact setting to the other half, or it feels weird after some time. Often, I'm sure that I have the exact same orientation on both halfes, but on of them wiggles. Also, sometimes I fixate one of the feet on a position, but as soon as pressure is applied to it, it moves on step further, causing a wiggle.

The stock wrist rests are not my favourite. I don't know what exactly they are made of, but it feels like some kind of hard rubber. While they are at a nice sweetspot between wood and cloth, the material tends to get filthy after a short while and starts collecting all kinds of dust and hair from my desk.

The layout

There are objective arguments to be made on ortholinear layouts, split keyboards and also orhtolinear split keyboards. I don't want to go into those in the post, so I'll just stick with my personal experience. I type better (i.e. more accurate) on an ortholinear layout. I just don't seem to mess up keys as much. My arms and shoulders feel better with a split board. Natuarlly, the Ergodox layout is very comfortable to me. It took me a weekend to get functional with the layout and about two weeks to get back to my regular typing speed.

Typing speed from when I first used the Ergodox EZ

What I like about the Ergodox layout in specific is the thumb cluster. The position feels like a very natuarl place for my thumbs to rest. This goes for the first two big keys, at least. For everything else on there, I have to stretch my hands so far that I have to lift them from the home row. As my layouts evolved, those buttons get assinged less and less.

There are also three keys to the inner side of each half that are okay to reach for the most part. When starting out, I set some core keys (esc for example) on those. Since I try to make use of less keys and more layers currently, I have some utility functions on those. On the left side, the two big keys are copy and paste, which is comfotable when selecting something with the mouse.
For what it's worth, I think the moonlander has the superior layout and removes a lot of the pain points I currently have.


The software is just great, period. ZSA encourages you to use Oryx for managing your layouts, which is basically a web UI for qmk, and a good one. It makes configuring and adapting layouts easy and keeps a list of revisions of a layout for. Up until this point, I've adapted my layout 15 time to arrive at my current layout.

The Oryx web UI

For flashing the firmware onto the board, you just download wally, choose the file and press a button on the board. It's actually so easy and fast to do that I changed my layout today in the middle of writing a commit message without leaving insert mode.

I think having this great software is one of the main reasons that make the board so worthwile. Switching to it means a lot of changes for the most people. First, you have the split layout. If you're not typing with a clean 10 finger system already, this probably means you will hit the air a lot. Then you have the thumb cluster and in general alternate layout, which makes you think a lot about where a certain key is. And then you have the ortholinear layout, which will likely cause you to hit the wrong keys a lot in the beginning.
So not having to worry about customizing the layout and making it easy to flash the board removes a hughe potential pain point from the process of getting used to it. Most of the times, I just have my layout in a pinned tab so I can reference and change it quickly.


  • Getting one in Europe is possible, but it takes a while to arrive and you have to deal with taxes and customs. I don't know about you, but I don't like dealing with taxes and customs. That's why I took the easy route and set up an alert on Germanys equivalent of Craigslist for people selling the Ergodox. I got lucky one evening and ordered one for 275€.
    From others around the internet, I read that customs and taxes will be about 60€ to 90€, so the total price might settle somewhere around 400€.
  • I do not have any problems using other keyboard layouts. I do prefer a ortho split layout, but switching to my MacBook keyboard is seamless.
  • If I were to get an Ergodox again now, I would choose the shine version (with LEDs on the back of the board instead of under the switches) over the the glow.
  • In the future, I plan to swap out the switches to something fancy and do some mods to the board to make it thocc. This should be easy, since it has hotswap sockets.
  • I'm thinking a lot about making my layout a little smarter currently. Probably not down to 36 keys, but I defenitely feel like I don't want to use all keys on the board.
© 2024 Chris Jarling