Kinesis Advantage Review, Tips & Tricks

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 🙂

Kine­sis KB500USB-BLK Advan­tage USB Con­toured Key­board (Black)

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):

kb_adv-pro-met1868x1024_small

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.

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