The other day I got myself together and updated my KBD4X keyboard to a version of the layout I use for my Kyria. I had brought it out and connected it a while earlier, only to realize that my gradual layout changes had made it surprisingly difficult to find my way around. For a while, I was wondering if I might perhaps have ruined non-split, thumbcluster-less keyboards completely for myself. Everything just felt strange, and I had a hard time seeing how I might find a decent replacement layout which would not be awkward to temporarily jump to.
Those worries were, of course, unfounded. I am typing this on the KBD4X and I am enjoying the feel of it just as much as I always did. I wish I could recall for sure which switches I have in it, because the feel is quite markedly different from the Kyria. They are lighter, possibly somewhat quieter, and clearly have a shallower activation depth. I feel as if I am typing softer and quicker - which is probably all placebo but a fun change in feel nevertheless.
"Porting" my updated layout turned out to be something of a non-issue. Most of my feeling of being lost was because of how I have gradually moved functionality to the home row. So relatively few keys in the thumbclusters and on the bottom row of the Kyria perform absolutely crucial functions. What I miss a bit are dedicated cut, copy, paste, undo, and redo keys in easily locatable positions, and I might actually have enough spare keys to fit those in on the KBD4X as well. (Update: yes, I do have plenty of free keys on the bottom row which I could use for this. Could be a fun next thing.)
Another very small but interesting change I found myself needing to make was to move the enter key up one row. Since the Kyria only has three rows of keys on the edges, I have put enter on the middle key. Swithing back to a keyboard with four rows of keys, it fels surprisingly strange to have the enter key sneak down one row, requiring a knight-like movement of the pinky finger to hit.
Now that the layouts are similar enough that I can easily move between them, I once again have a really hard time picking a favorite. I do love how clean, compact, and straight-lined the KBD4X is. I am typing with it on my lap right now, and I can keep my hands almost in a resting position while doing so.
The Kyria on the other hand, feels a bit large and unwieldy by comparison. The look appeals on utility more than anything else. On the other hand, it probably also is the better designed board for my actual hands. It is no coincidence that I started dreaming of split keyboard after having the KBD4X as my daily driver for a while - it is nice to be able to move your hands apart every now and then.
And on yet another hand (the third hand?) I feel faster on the KBD4X than on the Kyria, even after being away from it after such a relatively long while.
So, which one will you settle for?
It just occured to me (probably last of anyone reading this) that everyone who knows anything about ergonomy and preventing repetitive stress injuries talks about the value of switching things up. People alternate sitting and standing (I try to as well) and pointing devices, so why could and should I not switch keyboards regularly too? Such a clear difference in typing hand positions and keyboard placements are bound to be refreshing.
Having found a motivation for his odd pile of keyboards, he happily leaned back and relaxed into the cool Sunday afternoon, the clicking of the keys, and the gentle breath of the dog sleeping in its bed by the side of the desk.