About 3 years ago I purchased an Ergodox EZ. This week they announced a new keyboard called the Moonlander Mark 1 so I figured this was a good time to provide a review of their existing ergonomic keyboard, as well as my experience switching to this keyboard and using it every day for both work and personal endeavors.
In the interest of full transparency I have no affiliation or financial interest in the Ergodox EZ, the company (ZSA), or any affiliated companies. I have taken advantage of their warranty program and did receive a replacement keyboard for free (I will go over this during the review). I am a beta participant in their layout tour functionality where my layout is prioritized when doing searches for tags such as
colemak because I have a layout tour set up. They also offered to include my layout in their email newsletter and requested a headshot which I declined to provide for privacy purposes though I did grant them permission to include the layout in their newsletter if they wanted to. I have no idea if my layout tour will be included in an upcoming newsletter, but am adding this note here just in case. With that out of the way let's move on to the review.
Back in 2014 I decided it was time to move to a more ergonomic keyboard than my existing Microsoft ergonomic keyboard. At that time I decided to purchase an original Ergodox kit. I don't like soldering but decided I wanted to give this a try. When going through the instructions I screwed up and didn't realize that the switching diodes which are about the size of a grain of rice had a specific orientation that had to be followed. Removing all the diodes was more work than I wanted to do so I shelved it and continued using my previous ergonomic keyboard.
3 years later in 2017 my ergonomic keyboard from 2012 was starting to act up. Certain keys were badly worn, there was no way to replace the switches, and the wrist rests were falling apart. After reviewing all the options available at the time I decided to buy an Ergodox EZ. This was the original version of the EZ, no changing switches without soldering, no LEDs. The big draw to me was the ability to easily customize the keyboard layout. As someone who is left-handed this is a big deal. A lot of the ergonomic keyboards out there aren't especially friendly, and even less so for left-handed users. Being able to rebind all the keys was a big draw for me and this was a pretty large investment at $325 USD (keyboard, wrist rests, tilt/tent kit). Though many other ergonomic keyboards fall in to a similar price range this was a big step up as my last ergonomic keyboard cost $30.
When I got my Ergodox EZ I made the decision to start using a more ergonomic layout as well as significant changes to the overall placement of various keys. I also decided to use Colemak. One of the big benefits of Colemak to me over other keyboard layouts is that you retain your ability to type on QWERTY keyboards relatively well. I can confirm after not having used QWERTY for nearly 3 years regularly I can still switch back though my speed is slower and it takes time to ramp up. It's different enough to improve ergonomics over QWERTY while reducing the learning curve that you might find in other layouts and this is a big win to avoid frustration when you're used to typing quickly and efficiently on QWERTY.
As someone who works in DevOps and does software development as well as various other work the biggest downside is that Colemak is not very good for VIM with the default layout. You can change your VIM layout to accommodate this and with the recent development of very good editors such as VSCode I find myself using VIM less. You can read more about the benefits and reasoning behind the development of the Colemak layout in their FAQ which is very thorough. Needless to say I was sold and was able to switch over after only a few weeks of using it in the evenings with typing speeds quickly reaching my old QWERTY levels. I still don't think I'm quite as fast, but some of that is due to the modified keyboard layout I use for ergonomics which results in less discomfort at the cost of speed. I'm still able to easily attain 80-100 WPM or more depending on what I'm typing with the Colemak layout on my Ergodox.
For the past few years I've been refining this layout, you can play the layout tour if you'd like a thorough explanation of how everything works but I'm not going to go over it here. It's much easier to show than tell. The main focus for me was ergonomic design and comfort which I've been refining as the ZSA team continues to add more and more functionality to their ORYX configuration tool. In addition to this they regularly make hardware updates that improve the overall product. Soldering free replaceable switches being the biggest benefit over many other products. The configuration tool also has search functionality so you can explore other people's layouts and quickly start building something for yourself.
This continued development and investment in tooling around the Ergodox EZ and other keyboards from ZSA is the biggest win to me. The configuration tools as well as the firmware have received a lot of updates and improvements to functionality in the past 3 years. Oryx for visually configuring layouts is the biggest one. Then Wally was added to make flashing the keyboard with updated layouts easier, as well as some tooling around practicing your layout to make switching less of a hassle. This level of support has been much better than other ergonomic keyboard vendors out there who simply make a keyboard and that's all you get.
For the first year and a half or so my experience with the keyboard was fantastic and it exceeded my expectations in every way. I then started getting some odd double tapping and I had a few keys that would repeat, specifically v, g, and one or two other high usage keys. When I looked online about this issue there were a lot of various reasons people claimed as the root cause in relation to the Ergodox EZ, from software problems and switches, to hardware issues. I dealt with it by increasing the input time before keys would start repeating and this worked for a while but pushing it higher and higher made typing less enjoyable. About a month after my warranty expired (they offer a 2 year warranty) it started to become too bad to deal with especially when it came to pasting as I would get double pastes almost every time. 2 months past the 2 year warranty I contacted the ZSA team asking if they had seen this and if there were potential solutions as the keyboard had basically become unusable to me.
They recommended replacing the switches as I had already cleaned them as thoroughly as possible but I wasn't interested in doing this as I no longer owned a soldering iron and the whole point of buying the EZ was to avoid this. The ZSA team decided to send me a new Ergodoz EZ and I appreciate them going beyond the warranty time frame in this situation. The new EZ I received did include replaceable switches which was part of one of their revisions. After a month or two the issue started popping back up again but I was able to remove the switch entirely to thoroughly clean it and mess with the springs inside.
I'm convinced at this point that the issue is not the EZ but the Cherry MX switches as the problem occurred on the same key locations and after cleaning them in various ways I haven't encountered the issue again. This problem has lead me to exclude Cherry from any future switch purchases or modification I may make for this keyboard. I'm not sure if Cherry's production quality has just gone down or what but there were too many instances of this occurring across a wide variety of keyboards from different manufacturers where Cherry MX switches were the only constant (the real problem is that many people couldn't confirm the switch was the issue because most keyboards don't allow you to replace the switches without soldering). The fact I encountered it twice in two keyboards is absolutely ridiculous. Maybe it has to do with how your fingers press on the Ergodox EZ keys that impacts the switches and that's why other people also saw this on their Ergodox EZ, I'm really not sure but the switches definitely seem to be at fault.
Either way this problem was solved and the ZSA team wins points for replacing my keyboard even though it was outside the warranty.
In terms of ergonomics I think the EZ is first in it its class because of how configurable it is, my layout avoids wrist and finger pain and I haven't encountered RSI issues from overstretching my fingers in years. The tilt/tent kit allows you to shift the position thoroughly depending on your needs (check out their site for a better explanation of how this works). I don't use some of the keys on the keyboard because they're too far to reach, but this is a cost of using the original Ergodox layout. I do think the wrist rests are somewhat lacking since they're just relatively hard pieces of formed rubber and they did off-gas badly when I first got them. If you're ordering an Ergodox EZ I'd recommend looking at alternative wrist rests. The tilt/tent kit actually works against the wrist rests because they don't provide support if you attempt to use even somewhat aggressive tenting.
I also dislike that the keyboard uses USB to mini-B USB for the connector. I'm sure there's a reason behind it, but if you forget your USB cable for some reason you're out of luck. Who carries mini-B USB cables around with them or even adapters? No one.
A feature I do like a lot is being able to only have the left side of the keyboard plugged in. On the Ergodox EZ the USB cable is on the right side. This is useful for playing games where you don't need a full keyboard so you can have better mouse hand ergonomics if you use your left hand for mouse control.
Overall the Ergodox EZ is the best keyboard I've ever used. The extensive layout and physical configuration that can be tailored on a per user basis makes it exceptionally powerful and useful in a wide variety of disciplines. I use it as someone who works as a DevOps Engineer, but I could see it being amazing for accountants, writers, and even industrial applications thanks to the macro system, layers, and other various functionality. No other ergonomic keyboard that I'm aware of allow as much configuration with the ease the Ergodox EZ does.
If you're considering buying a new ergonomic keyboard I'd definitely recommend checking out the Ergodox EZ or the successors as a very viable option depending on your needs.