Kinesis Advantage360 Review
After months of researching split keyboards (I considered like many different variants) I decided to buy the best one (heh) from a Czech seller. I simply didn’t want to deal with international shipping, warranty, customs, taxes… It came the next day after ordering.
When I first tried to measure my WPM on the keyboard it was a disaster. Coming from 90 WPM and 97% accuracy (English text), the resulting 17 WPM was a bit disappointing to say the least.
Update I (2023-03-16). After one month it was much better: 60 WPM and 98% accuracy.
Update II (2023-05-16). After two more months better still: bach at 90 WPM and 97% accuracy.
Actually I think that the speed is almost back to where it was but I am making a lot of mistakes and need to backspace a lot which causes the actual drop in speed.
Also, I am measuring the type speed on a simple English text. I still struggle a bit when working in my mouseless environment and in Vim. Czech diacritics are also giving me a hard time. I bought a set of sticker labels but haven’t applied them yet.
I believe the split layout is the only truly ergonomic layout. The keyboard pushes you to touch type. And it was quickly obvious that I was not touch typing. E.g. I was moving my wrist completely to reach special symbols like ‘/’ and even Backspace with my index finger. So just the split layout itself forces me to adjust and type more ergonomically (end efficiently).
I thought that I will move the two halves quite a bit apart but in reality it seems that I am using the distance as was on the previous model Advantage2. Advantage360 comes with a bridge which will lock the two halves in the same position (distance at least) as Advantage2 but I am not using it as I keep adjusting the mutual position all the time maintaining roughly 7 cms between the halves.
I use the highest level of tilting but I think it’s not crucial for me.
I am still getting used to the ortholinear layout. Especially for Czech characters (the top row).
I haven’t really tried to go back to a normal keyboard but it is said that it is pretty easy and one can switch between split and normal layout easily. To be confirmed…
I didn’t buy the magnetic pads and sometimes it is a bit annoying that my palms are sweating on the flat surface of the keyboard.
- The keyboard is robust, well-made and sturdy.
- The SmartSet for configuring the key mapping is clever and dead simple. You just mount the keyboard as a flash memory (by a key combination), edit text files with the mappings and refresh the settings.
- As stated before, I believe that the split layout is the best for ergonomics.
- The keyboard is quite large and heavy. It’s not very suitable for carrying around or using while travelling. (But I am taking it with me for sure :)
- After remapping some keys I would like to change the keycaps to match the remapping but there are only a few spare usable keycaps. The manufacturer offers a full set of blank keycaps.
- You can’t buy Czech keycaps.
- The cable connecting the two halves is only 20 cm long. But USB-C to USC-C cables are cheap.
The configuration is ingenious. With a key combination you mount the keyboard as a flash drive and can access the configuration files in TXT format directly.
My configuration file (
<base> [rctr]>[del] [bsls]>[cbrk] [rshf]>[ralt] [del]>[esc] [esc]>[lwin] [rwin]>[ins] [lfn]>[lctr]
- the right Ctrl (the top right in the right thumb cluster) is mapped to Delete,
|\key is mapped to
()key (which is usually one key to the right),
- the right Shift is mapped to the right Alt (I have some xmodmap mappings for rAlt+x combinations),
- Delete (the right big key in the left thumb cluster) to Escape (Vim user here),
- Escape (where CapsLock on standard keyboards is located) mapped to the left Window key (Mod4 I use for tiling window manager),
- the right Windows key (top the left in the right thumb cluster) to Insert, and
- the left Fn mapped to the left Control (because this is where it usually sits on standard keyboards).
I appreciate the SmartSet (aptly named) as it is easy to backup and share and transfer the configuration. And you have multi-OS support for free.
The cable for connecting the halves is quite short: 20 cms. It’s enough for working at a desk but I can imagine that you could type also when lying (on back) and for that it would be better to have both halves by your sides which would require like 50 cm cable or so.
It would be also useful when using the keyboard with a laptop in the middle.
The keyboard is relatively expensive. But think again. As a programmer, the price is only a fraction of your monthly salary and you are going to use the keyboard 8 hours a day. So at the same time it is not expensive. On the contrary: look at those other keyboards how ridiculously cheap they are!
I don’t see any crucial Advantage of using this keyboard at the moment but I hope it will pay off in the long run. In the same vein I hope my ergonomic office chair and quality mattress will pay off in the long run.
I would totally recommend it for people who already suffer from pain when using normal keyboard.
As a byproduct I now feel more like a hacker. And my computer is even more inoperable for normal people together with tiling window manager and minimalistic GUI. Security through obscurity at play.
last modified: 2023-05-16