I recently* read Timo Zimmermann's post about buying a 'keyboard to last' and it made me realize I haven't posted about my keyboard journey yet. If you don't know much about mechanical keyboards, Brett Cannon's post about deciding on a new keyboard has a lot of great info. It also has some recommendations for ergonomic split keyboards.

I had regular keyboards (the kind that come with a PC or are cheap at Best Buy) for more than a decade of my computing life. At some point, I started hearing more people talk (mostly regarding gaming) about mechanical keyboards and why they were so great. If I remember correctly, a friend let me try his keyboard with Cherry MX Black switches. I liked that well enough so I bought a CM Storm QuickFire Rapid keyboard with Black switches. Rapid is the brand's tenkeyless version, or keyboard without a numpad. Black switches are on the heavier side (require more force to push down) and linear, see Brett's post above for more about these differences. A few years later, I decided I wanted to switch to MX Brown switches and bought the same keyboard with those. They are tactile switches (not linear) and are lighter than the black switches.

I had that keyboard for a few years while I was trying to figure out what I wanted in a keyboard upgrade. I thought I liked the MX Clear switches when they came out, but I used a coworker's keyboard with those switches and found they were heavier than I liked for longer typing sessions. Eventually, I bought a Vortex Pok3r, which is a 60% keyboard (just the letters and modifier keys, no F or arrows keys), but I really missed the arrow keys, so I returned it.

I bought a few keycap sets for my QuickFire while I researched a other layouts, switch types, etc. A few years after I bought the Vortex, another friend of mine was kind enough to let me borrow a couple of keyboards, both with split layouts:

A Nyquist

Nyquist keyboard

and an Iris

Iris keyboard

I started with the Nyquist and decided to really give it a try by using some typing websites to relearn how to touch type using the split orthographic layout (meaning the keys are in a grid rather than offset), which has helped with my overall typing. I tried the Iris a bit, but I preferred the orthographic layout of the Nyquist.

After I returned those keyboards, I started looking for something that fit a few functional and aesthetic criteria. I liked the layout of the Nyquist, but I didn't like the available cases. Eventually I found the Helix. I really like the wood case I was able to get, and the owner of that website provided great customer service.

Helix keyboard

I also still really liked tactile switches so I went with the (rather expensive) Zeal Zilent 67g switches, which are quite nice. After using those for a couple of years, I wanted to try some linear switches again. I mostly was curious how they would compare to the tactile switches for gaming.

I picked up a set of Zeal Sakurios (also quite expensive) and I ended up switching to them full time. I'd love to test drive a range of other switches, but I don't have a way to do that without spending a lot of money. Maybe over time I'll get around to buying and testing more.

I really love the split keyboard. If I need to use an older standard layout keyboard, I feel like I'm not able to sit as comfortably, and I fumble around with a non-orthographic layout. For some reason, I have fewer issues with my laptop keyboard even though the layout is the same as a standard keyboard.

Another downside to a split orthographic keyboard is the lack of good keycap options to cover every key. I keep seeing sets that don't have 1u (the size of a letter key on a standard keyboard, as opposed to the larger keys like tab, shift, etc.) keys for all of keys I need (such as tab, two shift keys, backspace, raise, lower, etc.).

I've considered getting a second keyboard for gaming, but I do so little gaming with a keyboard and mouse anymore that I think that's unlikely. If I were to buy a gaming keyboard, I'd probably go with the Wooting 60HE for the rapid triggers.

If mine dies or I decide to buy a new keyboard at some point, my current plan is a Nyquist from, but I might find something else that interests me more before I get to that point. For now, I love my Helix.

*this one took longer than I expected with the holidays!