“It’s arguably the best keyboard money can buy.” I told her. “The RGB is amazing, the symmetrically split design is a pinnacle of human ingenuity. It’s more customizable than anything I have ever seen. And best of all, it’s hot-swappable.”
A moment of stillness fell upon us, punctuated by a silence that seemed amplified by the palpable disparity in our excitement levels about the topic under discussion - my Dygma Raise ergonomic mechanical keyboard.
“Sure. By the way did you bring yoghurt on your way back? I reminded you twice this morning.” She finally said.
The unexpected reference to this specific dairy product by my wife inflicted a peculiar sting at that moment, a pain rooted deeply in my past. To really understand the reason behind this, we must embark on a journey back in time to my early years, set in a small Southeast Asian country, roughly the size of New South Wales, yet bursting with a population approximately seven times that of Australia.
A burden on earth
In Pakistani society, commanding respect requires much more than merely being a living, breathing entity. It rests squarely on your shoulders to demonstrate your worth, to prove that you are more than just “zameen par bojh”, an unwanted burden on the planet. During my childhood, if my mum ever caught me counting the specks of dust in the sunlight, she would promptly propose a more productive endeavor. Sending me off on a mission to fetch some yoghurt from the shops was always on top of her list for reasons I can’t comprehend to this day. It came to the point that each instance when she instructed me to venture out for some yoghurt became an illuminating moment, an awakening striking me with the revelation that whatever my engagement was at that very moment, it was essentially devoid of any real value. “Go get some yoghurt” was more than just an instruction; it was an opportunity to prove myself worthy of existence.
When my wife brought up yoghurt in aforementioned conversation, it inadvertently reopened old wounds. Once again, I found myself questioning my existence… my place in the universe. “Could it be that a life, wherein a part of each of my days is consumed in the rhythmic yet futile dance of fingers upon mechanical keyboards, truly encapsulates a meaningful existence?” I pondered. The old insecurities were clearly rearing their heads yet again.
At that moment, a profound epiphany washed over me: the response to perhaps this most crucial existential question I’d ever grappled with in my life was an unequivocal “no”.
I blame Youtubers - but I still watch their videos
Mechanical keyboards are a fun hobby. When I started to delve into the world of keyboard-related YouTube videos, a comforting sense of belonging and camaraderie began to bloom. These people became familiar, like friends I wish I had! I imagined they would totally understand why I get excited whenever my fingers feel the keys of a fresh, unexplored keyboard for the first time. The sound of the mechanical switches (specially the blue ones), coupled with the tactile feedback they provided, sent ripples of satisfaction up my fingertips. The fact that when you type something it immediately has a visible effect on the screen; all of that made typing such an immersive sensory experience.
However, over time, the novelty of this fascination began to fade. It hit me that I was left with an accumulating mountain of plastic, an ever-growing collection of keyboards and mice that were merely collecting dust. The realization that thousands of my hard-earned dollars had been invested in these idle devices sparked an internal debate about value and wisdom. I couldn’t help but see the purchase of yoghurt - as and when needed - as a potentially wiser expenditure of funds. Not only does it nourish, but it also serves as a versatile ingredient in creating an array of delectable Pakistani dishes like Korma and Kofta, promising tangible, mouthwatering delights. You can’t say the same about keyboards gathering dust on your desktop.
It had to stop.
What matters the most
Buying a good keyboard is not rocket science. There are only a few parameters that really matter:
- How comfortable it is to use.
- How (in)expensive it is.
- How durable it is.
And that’s basically it.
Some big-brand keyboards cost an arm and a leg, but in my opinion they only reflect the prestige of the name rather than the value of the product itself. A prime example is Logitech. Some of their models, such as the highly regarded G915, can cost over 300 dollars in Australia. While it’s a commendable piece of technology with a standard layout and reasonable ergonomic design owing to its low profile, I struggle to see the full worth of its hefty price tag. Something like Microsoft Sculpt is a much better option. It’s less than half the price and has great ergonomic design. Some people hate it’s membrane switches, but I like them over every single mechanical switch I have ever used! And it’s reasonably durable. I have it for about three years. There are clear signs of wear and tear on the wrist rest, but it has a few more years left in it. All switches work fine and I will probably buy another one when it dies. The mouse that came with it is so good. I like it better than the expensive Logitech MX Masters 3S (the scroll wheel on that mouse makes me angry every time I use it).
My final list
I would recommend three keyboard that are reasonably ergonomic and don’t break the bank:
This might surprise you: you are reading a blog post loosely related to mechanical keyboards, and the top pick here is not a mechanical keyboard. But this is my top recommendation. It’s not even a gaming/RGB keyboard and is a little expensive but has a lot more features compared to Microsoft Sculpt.
Respawn Ninja Ergonomic Split RGB Gaming keyboard
This is not a very popular device, and currently doesn’t seem be available anywhere. But the one I have has Cherry MX brown switches and good split design. Definitely worth $100 I paid for it.
The Dygma Raise that I mentioned above and in my previous post is still the best keyboard I think money can buy. But given it’s hefty price tag of over AUD 500, coupled with the fact that you don’t really want to use anything else once you are used to it’s layout, I don’t recommend it anymore. Dygma have recently released a new columnar keyboard, and in my opinion they are a remarkably innovative company. But their products are too expensive, and I do not want to get use to a layout which will make transitioning back to a conventional keyboard extremely challenging.
With Logitech ERGO K860 being my top recommendation, we will leave it at that.