Ergodox EZ Review — 1 Year with the ErgoDox
I absolutely love my Ergodox EZ. To the point that I purchased another one (I like having the same setup at home and at the office.) Here are a few highlights showcasing how I use it and why.
To give a little context, I own 4 ortholinear keyboards and I enjoy using each of them. They all have their purpose and use-case, but I use my Ergodox the most. It’s my daily driver at home and at work.
Feeling the Affect of Improved Ergonomics
I sit at my desk for a living and sit at my desk at home for fun. So being that I spend anywhere from 8-16 hours of my average day at the computer, having a comfortable and ergonomic keyboard does make a big difference for me.
I’ve found that I have much less wrist pain and stress over the past 6 months than I did before switching to the Ergodox.
Not a Big Fan of the Wrist Rests
My only complaint about the entire system is the wrist rests. They’re rubber which makes them easy to clean and wipe off, but they quickly collect dust and can become ‘sticky’ if your skin gets at all sweaty. They provide the perfect elevation, but their cons don’t outweigh the pros in my experience.
I picked up a set of these fabric and bead wrist rests on Amazon and they do the trick. They’re a bit more comfortable, don’t stick to my sweaty hands (I know, gross), and are fairly easy to wash.
Shortcuts are Life
I am an avid shortcut user, so having a fully customizable keyboard with up to 32 different layers is a dream for me. I have several different layers for different ‘heavy-use’ applications and games like Sketchup, Call of Duty, and Age of Empires.
That is really the primary reason I love my Ergodox EZ. I’ll go into more detail about how I have my shortcuts setup.
Learning to Touch Type
A byproduct of switching to a split keyboard is the need to learn how to properly touch type. I was a bit of a hunt and peck typist until a few years ago and still had some bad habits leftover prior to switching to the Ergodox.
Since switching and learning how to properly touch type my typing speed and accuracy has greatly improved. I could have done this without purchasing the ErgoDox, but necessity is the mother of invention…and overcoming laziness.
Would I buy the Ergodox EZ again? Well, I already have. So yes, I would highly recommend the Ergodox EZ if you need a more ergonomic keyboard and want to geek-out over shortcuts or customization.
Overview of Layers and Shortcuts
Below I’ve broken out my different layers and shortcuts that I have wired up to my Ergodox to make it a shortcut machine. You can also browse my layers in Oryx.
As you may know, I occasionally stream on Twitch on my DIY streaming desk. Coincidentally, the Ergodox EZ being a split keyboard, allowed me to easily optimize the left-hand half for one-handed gaming. Moving and remapping keys like ‘M’ and ‘H’ to the additional right-hand row keys.
This gives me the ability to place my mouse hand in a more comfortable and natural position instead of having it pushed farther out to the right just to make room for the right side of my keyboard that I rarely used while gaming.
My FPS Ergodox layer
The application-specific advantages are similar to gaming, in that I can remap keys easily to the left-hand half of my keyboard and leave my mouse hand where it belongs – on the mouse.
I also have a few combo keys setup for my complex shortcuts that would require holding down SHIFT or CTRL just to make it a bit more comfortable.
My Sketchup Ergodox Layer
Ergodox EZ and AHK were Meant to Be Together
Windows by default actually has 24 function keys (F1-F24) but because of the traditional QWERTY layout, most users only have easy access to F1-F2.
That is 12 free function keys to map to whatever you want!
I have my function keys mapped to different common actions that I perform via AHK. This is an example of my AHK file.
My “Functions” Layer
Shortcut for Changing Audio Devices Quickly
The more interesting things here are probably the F13 and F14 keys. Both of these keys are mapped to run a shortcut that tells NirCmd to change my default sound outputs to my DAC and studio monitors respectively.
Shortcut for Changing Monitor Resolution Quickly
I also use F15 and F16 to change my monitor’s resolution. This is handy because sharing your screen in Microsoft Teams gets a bit weird when your monitor aspect ratio is different from the viewer’s aspect ratio.
In my case, I have an ultrawide monitor that has a 21:9 ratio and most people have 16:9 screens. So I adjust to make it a bit easier for them to view.
This is also great for recording screencasts because OBS can then always expect a 16:9 ratio and I don’t have to do any resizing just to record my screen for a few minutes.
Why I use NirCmd
NirCmd is another great tool that gives you easier access to some base system commands without having to write ‘really’ complicated AHK scripts. You can change your default sound device with AHK directly, but I’ve found using NirCMD easier to maintain over time as my devices changeout with some frequency.