Thursday, 26 February 2015

First thoughts on Matias Ergo Pro

Today my Matias Ergo Pro finally arrived and I thought I’d record my initial reactions. I should first make clear – this was bought retail over a year ago; this is not a “thanks for the free stuff” post. I’m writing it because I care about keyboards. First, here’s my old setup – a Goldtouch v1:
This provides excellent “tent” support of arbitrary angles, a definite split left/right section, abandons a dedicated numeric segment, and uses a non-traditional layout for the secondary keys. I own several of these, and they have served me very well. As you can see from the photo, you may need a wrist strip to avoid strain (and for any serious tenting this will barely reach), but I can’t think of any way they could have avoided this. The keys feel fine. The one thing it doesn’t let you do is separate the left/right panels very much (the ball-joint connects rigidly them), which some posture folks maintain would help us avoid wrist strain. But: it has worked great. I love my Goldtouch keyboards.

…trades tenting for separation…

So: what is the Matias Ergo Pro?
Pictured above we see my new Ergo Pro, freshly unboxed. Like the Goldtouch it has distinct left/right sections, abandons a dedicated numeric segment, and uses a non-traditional layout for the secondary keys. However, it trades tenting for separation; instead of a ball joint, we get a cable connect. Limited tenting is provided by feet clips, which feel very solid:
This limited flexibility allows them to include inbuilt (removable, IIRC) wrist pads, which feel far better than the separate gel strip I used with the Goldtouch. But most importantly: YOU CAN MOVE THE PANELS APART. The connecting cable resizes for most reasonable separations, keeping the cabling tidy, which is a nice touch. It feels really nice to have your arms facing more forwards than diagonal.

What about the keys?

I believe they are ALPS, and they feel and sound great. It is great to have quality switches on keyboards. The alternative layout is interesting, but fine. I have no real need for dedicated “copy” etc, so I’ll probably try to re-map those through 3rd party software to something more useful.

Any issues?

I’ve only had the keyboard an hour, so I’m still getting used to it; however, I have had a few issues so far:
  • so far, it is only available in US layouts; this isn’t a huge issue to me and I knew this when I ordered, but you might care more about this than I do
  • (SEE UPDATE BELOW) the “num lock” key is spectacularly badly positioned IMO – I keep tripping this when looking for “n” – and I’m not sure, but I think they might be doing something on-device with this, as I have been unable (so far) to disable it through software; I’ve also had some false “hits” on the num-lock (when pressing “t”), which worries me more than a little
But: I really like it. Worth checking out if you are a keyboard person. Note that the first run is sold out, but the second run is taking orders.


The "num lock" shown on the keyboard is not the OS-level "num lock"; it is a device-level key that switches the behavior of the block of keys "7890uiopjkl;nm,." - a bit like how some laptop keyboards work. The OS-level "num lock" is actually toggled by "fn"+"t". Because the "num lock" button is device-level, it cannot be mapped/disabled by the OS. I fixed it by removing the key-cap!