Quest for the Perfect Keyboard: Ergodox EZ vs. Dygma Raise

Half a Raise next to half an Ergodox

Introductory rant

Great design rarely comes from a eureka moment. It’s usually a long process of many iterations that finally yields the best possible design. Alas, the modern keyboard is rather the result of technical debt and path dependence.

Most of us programmers enjoy things that make sense. We see beauty in logic and appreciate elegant solutions. Yet we type on staggered, QWERTY, wrist-bending and downright silly keyboards.

Just look at a typical spacebar. Why would your two biggest and strongest fingers share one massive button? Even splitting the spacebar in two different buttons would be a massive improvement. One for spaces and one for a shift key, wouldn’t that make sense?

The QWERTY layout and staggering of keys both solve the same problem: back in the 1800s, when people were designing typewriters, they had to make sure the mechanical linkages between the keys and the levers wouldn’t get entangled. It made a lot of sense back then. Today? It’s as if we left gas tanks and exhausts on electric cars.

My point is, your keyboard sucks. The good news is that better solutions exists. They’re just a few hundred bucks away, down a long rabbit hole.

What I’ve tried so far

My first decent keyboard was the Ergodox EZ, almost a year later I got a Dygma Raise.

Full Review of the Ergodox EZ

Full Review of the Dygma Raise

And the winner is…

*Drumroll*

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THE BUTCHERED ERGODOX!

The Raise is superior in many aspects: aesthetics, usage of USB-C, smaller size, the possibility to put the two halves together… and it’s even cheaper! In fact, if you’re buying your first split keyboard, the Raise might be a better option simply because it will be much, much easier getting used to.

But I missed the ortholinear layout too much to not go back to my Ergodox. Also, at the time of writing, the Ergodox’s configurator is clearly better. You can fine-tune your layout in ways that are probably not even near Dygma’s development branch yet.

Why “butchered”?

I still hate the gaping hole on my Ergodox. I hate it a lot. The real winner is probably the Redox, but I don’t feel like spending another massive amount of dollars on a keyboard right now. So, I found a solution…

My elegant solution to the Ergodox’s silly hole

I sculpted two 1.5u keys on my Ergodox to fill the hole and make my life a little bit better. (Better by 0.25u per hand, precisely.)

a sculpted keycap High res picture⌝

a sculpted keycap High res picture⌝

a sculpted keycap High res picture⌝

a sculpted keycap High res picture⌝

a sculpted keycap High res picture⌝

a sculpted keycap High res picture⌝

It’s not extremely satisfying, but good enough for now.

Someday I’ll take the time to find friends with a 3D printer and figure out a way to print custom keycaps that fill the hole. Or maybe I’ll just buy a Redox. Or maybe Dygma will release an awesome hole-less ortholinear keeb. Until then, I’m rocking a butchered Ergodox and life is pretty good.

Conclusion

If you’re getting your first fancy keyboard, the Raise is a safer option. But if you want the real deal, I think a Redox is the way to go.