The X-Bows Mechanical keyboard team got in touch with me last week regarding their impending Kickstarter launch. Yesterday the launch went ahead as planned, and I’ve tuned into the crowfunding page today to find out that the project is already 64 per cent funded. That’s pretty good going but they are offering a rather interesting ergonomic mechanical keyboard at a fairly reasonable price.
According to the promotional blurb the X-Bows Mechanical Ergonomic Keyboard’s unique key layout “allows for you to type faster and for longer”. That’s a big claim from the Canadian team but if you look at the pictures and the video for the proposed product it does make sense. The ‘fanned’ layout for example does look like it will be more comfortable for the natural arm/hand positions. Apparently the design limits strains on hands and wrists while aiding productivity. This change from the regular QWERTY layout is highlighted in the image below.
Though it’s pretty drastically different to the keyboard on your desk now X-Bows have sought to minimise the learning curve by keeping to QWERTY but with each key adjusted for more comfortable reach. It is called a ‘Cross Radial’ design and it facilitates the movement of Enter, Backspace, Shift and Altkeys into the centre of the keyboard. In turn these new central keys limit stress on your pinky, putting into play your ‘underused’ thumb, and makes significant hand movements less common.
X-Bows claims that the build quality of the product will be optimised for durability and comfort. It uses aluminium alloy plate inside to reduce flex plus an ABD base with the support of five rubber pads – plus flip out feet for rake adjustment. Overall the design weighs about 0.8kg. For keyswitches X-Bows selected a range made by Gateron, with estimated lifespans of 50 million actuations. There are options of four switch types from loud and clicky to silent and linear. Gateron Red, Black, Borwn and Blue switches sound similar in type and response to the well known Cherry MX versions. This keyboard is 100 per cent anti-ghosting. Windows keys, Apple keys, and blank keys are all options.
The X-Bows Mechanical Ergonomic Keyboard features RGB backlighting with 15 effects plus adjustable brightness, speed, direction and colour. Software will be provided to enable granular RGB lighting control, as well as keyboard layout adjustments, macros etc.
A wrist rest has been designed to match the X-Bows keyboard. It is designed to be solid but soft to touch, made of ABS with Alcantara fabric surfaces. The team request those interested add CA$30 ($25 USD) to their pledge amounts to get one when the keyboards ship.
Unfortunately all the CA$120 early bird keyboards are all ‘gone’ but there are several hundred not quite so early bird CA$144 units left (US$118, UK£89). This price includes worldwide shipping, your choice of keyswitch types, and Windows, Apple, or blank keycaps. The product is estimated to be delivered to backers by December 2017, not too far away for a Kickstarter project. I might have gone for it, if it had a numpad…