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.

First two is Microsoft's ergonomic keyboards, the Microsoft Natural series. They are cheap, under $40.

ms wnm keyboard
Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard Review
ms n4000 keyboard
Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000

These are classics. Particularly nice is their huge Alt and Ctrl keys placed symmetrically for left and right hand, and very close to the thumb. The 4000 is the later generation. I used them since 2005, 3 years with the classic and 2 years with the 4000, but finally gave up on the 4000 and switched back to the classic. The 4000 got the problem of stiff space bar.

Microsoft sculpt ergonomic keyboard 41754
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic is new in 2013, i don't have experience with. It improved the 4000 by introducing split space bar. However, now it uses shallow chicklet keys, and is twice as expensive.

Now, comes these 2 bowl-shaped oddball.

Kinesis Contoured Keyboard review
Maltron keyboard
Maltron Keyboard review

They are more radical, and expensive, about $300 for Kinesis and $500 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.

Maltron is ugly, and much more expensive, but i think it's functionally superior. (it's expensive because it's custom made for each order.) It has good function keys. For each thumb cluster, it has one more key. And the middle matrix of keys, you have multimedia keys and number pad if you need it. If you don't need it, they can be used for extra function keys. All single button press to switch to {browser, emacs, workspace, windows, apps}.

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

Both use mechanical key switches. 〔➤ Guide to Computer Keyboard Key Switch Mechanisms

Next, we have the “Truly Ergonomic Keyboard”, Ergodox, μTRON.

Truly Ergonomic Computer Keyboard-207
Truly Ergonomic Keyboard Review
ergodox woodenlook 2013-10-25 44533
Ergodox Keyboard Review
utron keyboard 02
μTRON Keyboard Review

These are less radical, but i think they are the best. The Truly Ergo is comparative inexpensive, at about $220. The ergodox got the all important thumb keys, but you have to spend a day to assemble it yourself, including soldering the electronic components. The μTRON is over $500, and you have to buy in Japan (or Amazon Japan). They all use mechanical key switches.

I currently use the TE and love it.

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 cheap, then Microsoft Natural.

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.

Also, i don't recommend laptop style flat/shallow keys. 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 under the title of “best emacs keyboards”.

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