Keyboardio Model 01

published : 2020-09-26 changed: 2020-09-26

category: global --> keyboards

Well, I did it again. After I had my Kinesis Freestyle Edge Gaming for a while and wrote about it here, I went on and got another "keyboard endgame" emoji people:smirk

The Keyboardio Model 01! It has all I wanted to have in a keyboard:

  • split, ergonomic layout
  • ortholinear keys
  • full RGB support for all keys
  • a thumb cluster
  • fast processor for cool LED effects (this was very much a problem with the kinesis...)

This started as a Kickstarter project, but by the time I found out about the keyboard, It was already sold out. Even worse, the Model 01 was not built anymore, as they want to release a new version of this. With Corona I think this will still take some more time now unfortunately.

So I got two used Model01 for cheap (one for home, one for office) a couple of months ago - before Corona forced us to do homeoffice all the time.

This is, what it looks like (Image is from the keyboardio website):

Yes, It has a unusual look but feels AWESOME!

little review

so, lets me write some words about the keyboardio Model 01 that I used for about 4 months now. Spoiler: its really great!

The look and feel

There were a couple of things, the Ergodox-EZ could have done better, for example the connection cable between the two halfs. The solution here is an RJ45 cable, which you can very easily swap out with whatever Ethernet-Cable you might have - works like a charm.

The wooden enclosure gives it an awesome look and feels... natural for lack of a better word. Really nice.

The keys are sculptured to make it easier to type on the corresponding position. This is a bit strange at first, but makes total sense, when you think about it. Having the keys in ortholinear position is one thing, but still the fingers are different, why are the keys on all other keyboards all the same?

Here every key is sculptured for best usablility on it's position. At first it feels a bit strange, but after 5minutes going back feels weird.

the obvious disadvantage is, that you cannot use standard keycap replacement, you have to get them from directly. I have 2 different sets: one translucent white set - looks really cool with LED effects. And a set of symbolic keycaps, that gives the keyboard a great matrix like look, especially, if you switch your LEDs to green emoji people:smirk

the RGB Lightning

This is also really cool, all keys are lit.The programming is free to do whatever you want. There are Plugins with cool LED-Effects. But the standard, that supports the Software Chrysalis for editing your layout and LED configuration usually is enough.

The most important thing, the KEYS

I was a bit sceptical at first, Keyboardio uses Matias switches. I was used to cherry switches and loved those.

I had a "loud clicky" Model 01 and one with "silent clicks". I already read about the loud ones having issues. And that was true. The keys sometimes felt stuck and hence had a total different actuation force than others. This would kill my typing. In addition to that they were really extremely loud - I'd say a lot louder than the Cherry MX blue ones I have in my Ergodox-EZ.

But the silent clicks are awesome! Feel like Cherry MX Browns but really silent, even more silent than Cherry Keyswitches with dampening O-rings. Matias - those are awesome!

So I switched the keys from my loud model01 to those "Matias Silent Click"... and it works great! (the Model01 does not support hot-swapping of keyswitches, but you can manually replace the mechanical parts, if you want to. Its a bit of a stretch, but works).

the Software

This is also something really nice, the software is called Kaleidoscope and is opensource. But As I understand it, you can also install QMK to the Keyboardio Model01 if you want to.

But the concept of that Arduino based approach is appealing. With having a GUI to configure your board and the possibility to add / compile plugins for your specific needs is just awesome.

Building the software is very similar to QMK, the code actually also looks alike. But it is WAY better than the software support of the Kinesis KEyboard. They should really open up there, its a shame...

But having an arduino based system also gives opportunities: The keyboard can talk back to the system, there is a serial IO that you can use to, for example, switch on / off certain leds. And if you use tools like Keyboard-Maestro or some other automation on the mac, you can actually have the keyboard react on the currently open app or so. Really Awesome...

the Elefant in the room - Palm keys

yes, there are two keys, that are operated with your palm not with fingers. This is a brilliant idea for a programmable keyboard! You can easily switch layers with that or use at as shift or whatever...

This makes it almost natural to use layers in your layout, and in my case it switches on a function layer where I have my T-Shaped cursor key block and Media controls.

This is really cool to use!

Is it the "endgame"

Keyboard enthusiasts talk about and "endgame" in keyboards, the Ultimate Keyboard that exactly fits their specific needs 100% eliminating the urge to get a new keyboard.

Well, I guess, this is impossible. There will be cool new gimmics you'd like or so. But I really think, this one is not too far away for me. emoji people:smirk

created Stephan Bösebeck (stephan)