Finally bought my Kinesis Advantage today, after much contemplation. If you are reading this page, you are probably in the initial phase of considering it. Let me answer the top question on your mind right now:
Is it worth the $299 price tag?
Yes!! In fact I paid something like $350 for it because I do not reside in the US and had to pay a hefty delivery fee. After 2 months of usage I do not regret it a bit and it really lives up to the hype — it’s the most pleasant keyboard I have used.
What’s so good about it?
For me, it’s the split and curved design. The patented layout of the keyboard does make typing much more comfortable. As a programmer and geek I type all day. I think I was on the verge of getting RSI before I purchased the Advantage keyboard.
People skeptics may think that there is a placebo effect of RSI or things like that. I was also worried about that when I was getting over the $299 price tag. Now that I have used it, all I can say is that I do not believe in the placebo effect — the ergonomics is real.
Personally, a major benefit of the Advantage layout is the placement of them Ctrl key:
Using the thumb to press the Ctrl key totally got rid of my “Vim pinky” (while scrolling through code using Ctrl+F, Ctrl+B and co.) I can only imagine that Emacs user will be able to derive a much greater benefit from the Ctrl key placement alone.
And how about the mechanical key quality?
This is my first mechanical keyboard so I can’t really judge. However this does feel so much better than the crappy Microsoft Natural 4000. The Microsoft keyboard has a pretty good split design but the rubber dome keys make me want to throw up every time I had to touch it.
How long did it take to adapt?
As expected, adaptation was quite difficult. For the first couple of days I dropped from 150 WPM to 15 WPM, no joke. The placement of the arrow keys were totally alien and difficult to get used to. After two months of usage the usage of the left, right arrow keys still do not feel very intuitive to me.
A major challenge is that the keys are actually placed closer together than most keyboard, so that your movement must be very precise or you may hit the next keys accidentally.
Another major challenge for me was that I always used the right middle finger to press
m, which is quite impossible with the Advantage layout. In general, it’s quite difficult to type with anything but perfectly correct typing posture to use the Advantage.
It took me about 2 – 3 weeks of casual usage to be able to get back to 120 WPM. After the initial adaptation period typing was very comfortable and I feel quite certain that I can increase my maximum speed with this keyboard with more use.
What are the weak points about it?
The function keys. It may not be immediately obvious from images of the Web but the function keys are made with low quality soft rubber with a totally arbitrary placement. The bad quality results in function keys often registering twice when pressed once. That is rather annoying.
The placement of the Alt key. By default, you’d need to stretch your left hand pretty wide to do the Alt+Tab key combination. I have no idea why they choose to do this. It was absolutely terrible in the first few months and got a little bit better after a month of use. I tried swapping the Windows key and the Alt key which was actually pretty good. I switched back to the original layout in the end just because I wanted to stay with the default layout as much as possible (for no apparent reason).
It is rather loud. About as loud as a “classic” keyboard so it’s not too bad. But if your office environment mostly use those “flat, laptop style keyboards” then you may be frowned upon a bit.
Go get it.
You have read this far and cared about the points above, you will really love the Kinesis Advantage 🙂 If you liked this review and wants to purchase through Amazon, purchase through the link below to give me some affiliate earnings 🙂
Edit: What about Kinesis Advantage Pro?
I liked the Kinesis Advantage so much that I self-funded a Kinesis Advantage Pro at my workplace (where water isn’t even provided):
The Pro has more advanced programmability — macros and stuff but I don’t really those. There is also a foot pedal that I don’t really use. So basically the only difference is the “metal finish” that I’m apparently gonna get.
Unfortunately, there is no metal finish. If you look closely enough it is just grayish looking plastic. There is a glossy layer of plastic on top of the grayish body but that’s it. The sad thing about it is that the glossy layer of plastic feels pretty awkward to rest my palms on.
Now I realize that nowhere on Kinesis’ Web site did they claim that the Kinesis Advantage Pro has metal finish… I must have misread it on some review site. But the thing is that I’d prefer the normal black model despite it’s the cheaper model.