Truly Ergonomic keyboard review

The Truly Ergonomic keyboard has intrigued me for going on two months now. Only the $250 price tag held me back. I looked on Ebay for a while and never saw one, so I finally pulled the trigger and ordered it.

What so intrigued me about this keyboard is the layout is different, but not radically different; it is narrow; and the cursor movement keys are all close to the home row. Using my thumb or index finger, instead of pinky finger, for enter and backspace is also very interesting.

First impressions
First off, the layout is not terribly different, but it is different. I was very slow the first day. In fact, by 10 am I had a mild headache across the front of my head similar to what I've heard people describe when they get glasses for the first time. I never get headaches. I am guessing it was because I couldn't type from muscle memory but had concentrate on where to put my fingers. By the second day I was improving slowly.

I do like the positioning of the cursor movement keys and putting the enter and backspace under my index finger instead of my pinky is helpful, even if it takes a while to get used to. I also like having Ctrl up where caps-lock normally is as it reduces the reach for a lot of combinations.

The trade-off is the tab key is considerably harder to reach and, given that as a programmer I use tab-to-complete a lot, this is quite a trade-off.

After a week
After using the Truly keyboard for a week, I think the alternate layout has some advantages, but just as many offsetting disadvantages. Specifically:

  • Cursor movement keys are nice, but really not better positioned than a compact keyboard layout.
  • Enter and backspace are slightly better located.
  • Tab is in a much worse position, and the curly braces (also used frequently in many languages) are in an even worse spot than most keyboards.
  • The layout of the Truly also places the keys in straight columns instead of offset rows. This is supposed to reduce finger motion. However, I find I type with my hands at a slight angle to the keyboard (keeps my wrists straight) so really straightening my fingers follows the offset key layout and it is more of a reach with the Truly. Perhaps if I did better following textbook touch typing the straight layout would be an advantage, but I found it a disadvantage.

Finally, I am also disappointed in the key feel. I keep hearing about the superiority of mechanical keys, but the Microsoft Sculpt and Chromebook Pixel have much superior feel to the Truly keys IMHO.

Wrap up
All in all, I'm disappointed. I really had high expectations, but I am returning this keyboard. I think I need to find a good "chicklet" keyboard. I also think split keyboard are not for me. So, anyone know of a really good programmer keyboard which isn't necessarily ergonomic and doesn't have mechanical keys? It seems like all of the descent keyboards tout mechanical keys.