What to do when you end your Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 of 10 years with a mug of hot tea? Replace it of course, but with what?
After much deliberation I opted to try the Kinesis Freestyle 2. I type a lot for my living so ergonomics are key. The price bracket is certainly in the premium range, albeit the lower end, but lets see how it justifies the cost. The Freestyle 2 is a unique design that physically separates the keyboard down the middle, allowing the user to set the gap and angle of separation that best suits their needs. A tenting system also allows for further customization on the inclination of each half. It is worth mentioning that the stock model is very bare – I recommend getting the VIP3 package as well for the wrist rests and enhanced riser brackets for more range of tenting. I was able to find a Freestyle 2 + VIP3 bundle on amazon.ca for $180 and the order qualifies for free shipping.
Taking it out of the box, I get my first view of this curious piece of machinery. Functionality aside, it’s certainly an eye-catcher of a desk piece. There is an optional binding hinge that allows the satellites to be joined and pivoted. Even with a reasonable degree of separation, the Kinesis Freestyle 2 maintains a compact real-estate. This is partially to do with the lack of a physical numeric keypad.
After a few weeks of usage, my fingers have become comfortable with the layout and configuration that I’ve determined best suits my posture. It’s a shame that a mechanical model available but the keys are nicely beveled and easy to feel. The touch pressure is quite little, allowing for very light keystrokes although it is also easy to be heavy handed without proper typing technique. The keys do have a nice clicking sound; I like it but if you prefer quiet keyboards it is something to consider. I also enjoy some of the non-traditional enhancements such as the linear placement of the page control keys as well as a panel of function keys. My slight annoyances with the keyboard are with the function and context keys being in the spot that Control usually sits, at the far left, and that’s still tripping my reflexive keystrokes. it’s also worth mentioning that although the keyboard sits steadily while typing, bumping it will move the satellites of course. It can be a bit onerous re-aligning the satellites to your desired configuration.