Best Keyboards for Emacs

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I offer you what i consider are the best keyboards for emacs. They very in price, built quality, size. Some have mechanical keys.

Microsoft sculpt ergonomic keyboard 41754
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 actually used this one, 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.

Now, comes these 2 bowl-shaped oddball.

Kinesis Contoured Keyboard Classic
Kinesis Contoured Keyboard Classic. amazon (img src)

Kinesis Contoured Keyboard review

Maltron keyboard-17420
Maltron keyboard, with Maltron layout. img src 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 (depending on model). 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. 〔➤ 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 32215 by almightyglod
Ergodox keyboard (bottom). (photo by almightyglod © by-nc-nd)

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 keys Mode.

In summary, i think these are the best keyboards for emacs. If you want compact, the TE 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.

Other Keyboards Emacs Users Might Like

You'll notice that they are all ergonomic types. I recommend them highly. But, if you really just want a straight keyboard, then i recommend Logitech G710+, Corsair K60, K90, or Filco, Cooler Master. 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 wouldn't consider them as “best emacs keyboards”.

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