A Split-Design Gaming Keyboard: The Freestyle Edge

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I'm pretty sure the keyboard would be getting made whether they put it on Kickstarter or not. Just look at some quotes from their writeup...

...Kinesis has been building ergonomic keyboards here in Seattle, WA for over 25 years.
...And after 12 months of extensive research & testing with gamers, we're finally ready to build the all-new Freestyle Edge.
...Surprise, the manufacturing process is already underway!
This is a long-established company that has spent a year designing their latest keyboard, and they are already in the process of setting up manufacturing with the company that's been building their keyboards for the last 20 years. There is literally no need for them to raise $50,000 through crowdfunding, and even if they somehow didn't manage to make that small sum of money, the product is already well past the point where they would consider cancelling its development. This is little more than a way for them to get free advertising.


I somehow doubt those "lift kits" cost them much more than a dollar to make, but they are selling them for $30 on top of the cost of a $220 keyboard. And of course, they try to make it sound like an essential feature that you won't want to miss out on in the product description...

A conventional flat keyboard puts strain on your hands and arms. Over time that strain adds up and can reduce your performance, or even knock you out of the game all together. With the optional Lift Kit, you can tent one or both key modules to provide a neutral wrist and forearm position for extended gaming sessions. This isn't some gimmick, it's just more comfortable.
If it's "just more comfortable", why not include it with the keyboard as a standard feature? Isn't the main point of this keyboard to be more ergonomic? Selling it separately just sounds like a way to upsell potential customers into paying an extra $30 for a couple pieces of plastic that could have probably been built into the bottom of the keyboard at almost no additional cost.

We like RGB lighting as much as the next guy, but does it boost your performance? Our blue LEDs illuminate the keyboard for gaming in low-light conditions, without any gimmicks. Choose from 9 brightness levels or activate Breathe mode to deliver soothing pulses of light.
So a pulsing "breath mode" is not considered a "gimmick"? What if someone finds a neutral white, or some other warmer color to be less distracting than a neon blue glow? Is that a "gimmick"? Keyboard backlighting seems like one place where RGB lighting can actually be useful to have.

Also, why eliminate the numpad when they're adding a set of programmable gaming keys on the left? I would have preferred to see them add a programmable numpad there instead. That way, the numpad could double as an expanded set of gaming keys. They likely eliminated it from the right side to keep both halves of the keyboard relatively equal in size so that they could be angled symmetrically, but with a numpad in place of the gaming keys on the left, they could have made both halves a bit longer. This would have opened up more space on the right side of the keyboard as well, so that they wouldn't have had to squash those keys together like a laptop keyboard.

I do like the idea of a split gaming keyboard though. It could certainly make it easier to use a gaming peripheral like a racing wheel or flight stick alongside a keyboard, or open up more space for using a mouse, in addition to the ergonomic benefits. I just kind of wish they did some things different with the design and that the "retail price" wasn't so inflated just because it's being marketed as "ergonomic". Perhaps another company will design something similar though.
 

scolaner

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Heh. This is why we do original content instead of just copy/pasting the market-speak.

Also, we get this in basically all PR materials. Half the products we cover are billed as "the world's [fill in superlative here] widget". Sigh.
 

Ramberjet

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Neat. But for $219, I would still stick with the route I took: the Ergodox. It's split, programmable, and has the columnar rather than staggered layout. I have a general gaming layer that puts WASD where ESDF normally are on QWERTY for added ergonomic comfort (I use Colemak though, so it's extra useful to be able to transition to WASD anyhow). Then the surrounding buttons (in addition to the immediately adjacent ZXCV, QERF) have been mapped to typical hotkeys: M (map), I (inventory), H, O, etc.
 

Dr Croubie

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I'm a big fan of Kinesis Freestyle, had one for over 2 years (bought to write thesis), then got one at work, now another on the way to use in the lab.
But what's the advantage of this over the regular Kinesis Freestlye? Looks practically the same to me except for those 4 buttons on the top-left of the right section, and some fancy LEDs. The left buttons can already be macro-programmable. Even the VIP lifter looks the same.
And the current-model Freestyle works perfectly well for gaming, as I do play a bit with it already.
Still, everyone should get one of these (or at least the regular Freestyle, they got for <$50 on fleabay occasionally). Your wrists will thank you immensely.


Now all I need is a more accurate vertical lasermouse...
 

Dr Croubie

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Mar 19, 2017
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I'm a big fan of Kinesis Freestyle, had one for over 2 years (bought to write thesis), then got one at work, now another on the way to use in the lab.
But what's the advantage of this over the regular Kinesis Freestlye? Looks practically the same to me except for those 4 buttons on the top-left of the right section, and some fancy LEDs. The left buttons can already be macro-programmable. Even the VIP lifter looks the same.
And the current-model Freestyle works perfectly well for gaming, as I do play a bit with it already.
Still, everyone should get one of these (or at least the regular Freestyle, they got for <$50 on fleabay occasionally). Your wrists will thank you immensely.


Now all I need is a more accurate vertical lasermouse...
 

Dr Croubie

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Mar 19, 2017
5
0
510
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I'm a big fan of Kinesis Freestyle, had one for over 2 years (bought to write thesis), then got one at work, now another on the way to use in the lab.
But what's the advantage of this over the regular Kinesis Freestlye? Looks practically the same to me except for those 4 buttons on the top-left of the right section, and some fancy LEDs. The left buttons can already be macro-programmable. Even the VIP lifter looks the same.
And the current-model Freestyle works perfectly well for gaming, as I do play a bit with it already.
Still, everyone should get one of these (or at least the regular Freestyle, they got for <$50 on fleabay occasionally). Your wrists will thank you immensely.


Now all I need is a more accurate vertical lasermouse...
 

stryder9205

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Nice insight into the keyboard. I like the idea of split keyboard for gaming, but I can see some pros and cons to this layout. There's no keyboard locking or RGB lighting options. The funky key sizes make custom keycaps a hassle too. Otherwise, it's a cool idea, and I think we'll see more of these. This link hits a few additional details: http://voxinventum.com/freestyle-edge-2/.
 

DerekA_C

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there is a lot I would change for one I am very meticulous on how i like things I just submitted a great prototype build for Logitech on a new design for their G13 aka G113 speedpad/gaming keyboard but who knows maybe I will start my own company with a 3D printer and give the people way more adjustable and intuitive options instead of following suit with all these companies that push this carpel tunnel syndrome styled keyboards. seriously my wrists are F***ing dying here. And as an inventor and engineer I do not tell my specific designs just in case I do actually start my own business.
 

scolaner

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Go for it! I think new ideas and refinements are always good for the industry.
 
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