Who knew that having the middle of your desk back would mean so much?
When I first saw the Kinesis Freestyle Edge keyboard at PAX west earlier this year I was certainly intrigued. It features a split design that promised a more ergonomic position for your hands and arms. As a big man, I often have issues with smaller keyboards and the feeling of almost having to cross my arms while typing and then, of course, twisting my wrists back out to make them straight again. As it turns out this has a name, Ulnar Deviation, who knew?
With the Freestyle Edge, I feel the difference and really in life, that is all that matters. After a month of using the split design, I can feel the difference in my arms and shoulders, my wrists sit more naturally when I type, my hands naturally rest on my desk at my sides instead of cramping up. In general, I just enjoy typing more.
It was a struggle at first, as I am more of a hunt and peck typer, with my hands being too large to sit on the home keys in any functional manner. I was worried that the split design would be difficult for me to adapt to. It was a bit strange in the beginning, but it actually improved my typing. What started as a lot of head-turning, side to side, as I looked for the right keys turned into quick keystrokes with little glancing at the keyboard, something I have often struggled with. With the keys broken into two separate banks, I can now have the benefit of each hand just being in the right place with the right keys under them, no need to look for them. For the first time ever my hands just knew where the keys were!
This new-found familiarity extends beyond typing and into the realm of gaming. The split design allows you to kind of ignore the part of the keyboard you normally don’t use for gaming anyways, putting the focus on the WASD area. The inclusion of a number pad on the left-hand side includes another bank of keys that are handy for any sort of hot-buttons you may need. The best part is that you can simply push the right side of the keyboard up and out of the way and replace it with your mouse.
It is such a simple thing, but you don’t notice how much you “reach” for your mouse until you don’t have to. This is called Mouse Overreach and puts unneeded stress on your kneck and arm. It all goes back to lining yourself up right. When it all clicks in, not only did it make my body feel better, but everything just feels a bit more intuitive, or “at your fingertips” instead of being all over your desk.
Speaking of which, as I started with, who knew having the middle of your desk open would be so awesome? I can do paperwork without shoving a keyboard out of the way. I can lay my tablet down and have a quick extra screen. I first noticed this extra bit of amazing, when I came back to my desk after making a sandwich. As I set my plate down, I realized I didn’t have to do the juggle of holding my lunch and beverage with one hand to make a free hand to shove the keyboard out of the way. Sometimes it’s the simple things, and this one little feature would make it difficult for me to go back to a “slab keyboard” hogging up my desk ever again.
I wish I could talk more to the technical aspect of the Freestyle Edge, but I am a fairly basic keyboard user and am not even going to pretend to know what the specs even mean, let alone speak to them. I do know that I have run the gauntlet of gaming styled keyboards, and this one stands up among the best when it comes to feel and responsiveness. I like the click of the keys as I call it. The keyboard also has a plethora of macros, and remap options that I didn’t get a chance to try out, as I normally do not make use of those benefits, but for those who want that, Kinesis is more than happy to oblige.
All in all, the Kinesis Freestyle Edge has made me a believer in split keyboard design. It made good on the claims of ergonomics as I simply feel better after a long day sitting at the desk. In addition, the surprise benefits of regaining ownership of my desk, and making me a better typer were the icing on the proverbial cake, that has made me change the way I work and play. As I said earlier, I do not think I can go back to a normal keyboard again.
*This review was made with a keyboard donated by Kinesis for review purposes. The good folks at Kinesis also donated a few of their Vektor Mice, and Mousepads for Stack Up to donate to the troops! We look forward to getting these into the hands of some amazing veterans in the new year!