Best Keyboard for Emacs

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Here's what i consider the best keyboards for emacs. They very in price, built quality, size. Some have mechanical keys.

Microsoft sculpt ergonomic keyboard 21855
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard. amazon

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard review

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic is the cheapest among the ones on this page. It came out in 2013. I haven't used this one for long period of time, but have used the previous 2 generations the Microsoft Natural Keyboard and Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 for about 7 years. I would say the new Sculpt is a big improvement.

Particularly nice is their huge AltCtrl keys placed symmetrically for left & right hands, and very close to the thumb.

Matias Ergo Pro keyboard

Matias Ergo Pro keyboard 90213
Matias Ergo Pro Keyboard. Matias ergo pro keyboard

Full review at Matias Ergo Pro Keyboard

Not exactly the type i like. It's got staggered key layout. But still, it's very good. Mechanical keys, large Ctrl and Alt keys.

Now, comes these 2 bowl-shaped oddball.

Kinesis Contoured Keyboard Classic 39546
Kinesis Contoured Keyboard Classic. Kinesis contoured keyboard (image source)

Kinesis Contoured Keyboard review

Maltron keyboard-17420-s
Maltron keyboard, with Maltron layout. image source amazon

For comparison of Kinesis vs Maltron, see: Maltron Keyboard review.

These are more radical, and expensive, about $300 for Kinesis and twice that for Maltron. I've never used them. The bowl-shape makes it less ideal for casual use.

The Kinesis screwed up the function keys {F1, …, F12} and Esc. They became tiny rubber buttons.

The Maltron is good as a power station. See: Keyboard Master: One Thousand Function Keys.

Both Kinesis Contoured and Maltron use mechanical key switches. 〔➤see Guide to Computer Keyboard Key Switch Mechanisms

Next, we have the {Truly Ergonomic, Ergodox, μTRON}.

Truly Ergonomic Computer Keyboard-3246
Truly Ergonomic keyboard. (photo by To1ne, used with permission)

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard Review

ergodox keyboard 2015 JvwKmR9-s
Ergodox keyboard. 〔photo by tricheboars image source

Ergodox Keyboard Review

utron keyboard 02
“μTRON Keyboard” (img by webwit)

μTRON Keyboard from Japan

These are less radical, but i think they are the best. The Truly Ergo is one compact piece. The ergodox got the all important thumb keys, but you have to assemble it yourself, including soldering the electronic components. The μTRON is over $500, and you have to buy in Japan. They all use mechanical key switches.

I currently use the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard and love it. You can see my key config and setup at xah fly keysXah's Truly Ergonomic Keyboard Layouts.

In summary, i think these are the best keyboards for emacs. If you want compact, the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard is way to go. If you want split pieces, the Ergodox or μTRON is for you. If you want bowl-shaped, then Kinesis or Maltron. If you want it cheaper, then Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard. Keyboard Model 01

This is new. Just came out in . model 01 model 01

See: Keyboard Model 01 ⌨

Other Keyboards Emacs Users Might Like

You'll notice that they are all ergonomic types. I recommend them ONLY. But, if you really just want a straight keyboard, then i recommend:

They all feature mechanical key switches.

Some of you will probably mention TypeMatrix, or IBM Model M, Unicomp buckling spring, or Happy Hacking Keyboard. Then, there are also other 2-Piece Split Keyboards. I'm sure they work for each person, but i don't recommend them.

Like it? Buy Xah Emacs Tutorial. Thanks.

or, buy something from my keyboard store.