Customer Review: “…quality, in every aspect… from hardware, design, and people…” — Ben Langton

by Ben Langton, New York, USA, January 24 2021
(*posted by Zergotech with permission and on behalf of Ben Langton)

As a software developer, I have suffered from RSI (Repetitive Strain Injuries) for a long time. I have tried several ‘alternative’ keyboards over the years, but have rejected each of them for various reasons…until now. The Zergotech Freedom Keyboard represents quality, in every aspect; from the actual hardware, to the design, to the people behind it. They took the time to personally reply to both my questions and my suggestions. That is unusual, these days, and shows a commitment to customer satisfaction, and continuous improvement and innovation.

The Freedom keyboard seems immediately familiar; it is not a radical departure from the traditional keyboard, which has been around as long as it has, because it works. However, this keyboard includes numerous improvements. The most obvious is the split design — that should be the standard for all keyboards! It eliminates the unnatural deviation of the wrists, and rounding of the shoulders that traditional one-piece keyboards require. The innovative sliding palm rests are an excellent feature, as well, and the hallmark of the Freedom keyboard. The sliding/gliding palm rests make it easy to move your hands into the most comfortable position for each key reach. They work best when using the flat configuration, rather than the optional ‘tented’ configuration. (Each half of the keyboard has four feet that can be unfolded to change the angle.) For those who prefer, full-size, non-movable palm rests can be purchased as an option.

The next most obvious change is that the Enter key has been moved to the left thumb, the backspace key to the left little finger, and most of the keys use an orthogonal layout — the keys are aligned with each other vertically. The orthogonal layout has been repeatedly demonstrated to be superior to the staggered key layout which existed since mechanical typewriter times. The bottom row of keys preserves the staggered layout, based on the designers’ ergonomic studies. The navigation keys (arrows, Home, End, etc.) and the number pad have been brought into the main body of the keyboard. They are activated by a Function Shift (or Lock) key or Number Shift/Lock, respectively. This requires learning a bit more coordination, and training your mind to think of the keyboard as having multiple layers (four, in total; more about that below). It is a worthwhile investment of effort, because it means that you can do a lot more without moving your hands off the home row. I could already feel some relief from wrist, shoulder, and finger pain, after a few days’ usage.

A feature that doesn’t get enough press: Zergotech included mouse control in the keyboard! The mousing layer isn’t a complete replacement for a mouse, but it works smoothly. With some practice, it is efficient enough for tasks that would otherwise require rapid switching between mouse and keyboard (which contributes to and exacerbates RSI). Yet another key feature is the hardware-based programmability. I didn’t expect to use this much; I feel that it is the keyboard designer’s job to figure out where the keys should be, not mine. Zergotech mostly got it right, but I decided to move a few keys for my convenience as a programmer. Particularly, the dash and equals keys, frequently used in programming, are a long stretch, with the little finger of the right hand. I moved them one row lower, activated by the left Function Shift key. It was easy to do, and it works flawlessly, since the remapping occurs inside the keyboard, not via software. I also copied the Backspace and Delete keys to the Function layer of the right side of the keyboard and the arrow keys to the left side of the keyboard to suit particular usage scenarios.

All in all, the Zergotech Freedom Keyboard is a great keyboard, with a quality-oriented mentality. For anyone who spends long hours on a keyboard, it is definitely worth the price.

Regards, and best of luck!
Ben

Zergotech is the company behind the award winning Freedom ergonomic mechanical keyboard.