11 Weeks With My ZSA Moonlander

Nov 22, 2021 17:09 · 755 words · 4 minute read

The way is use computers is heavily focused on keyboard shortcuts. There are situations where the mouse is the superior choice, they are just few and far between for me. As such, a great keyboard is important. It’s been 11 weeks since my Moonlander arrived and I wanted to put some feedback out there for others considering whether they want to make the jump.

My Layout

I won’t get too deep into my layout, but you can review it it if you are curious. Keybindings were kept pretty close to standard qwerty layout. The initial configuration remapped the closest thumb keys away from space bar which felt jarring. I use the space bar as a leader key in vim because it’s so close at hand. The situation I found most frustrating that I didn’t think of was that the Moonlander has less keys on the right side than a standard keyboard so [, ], and = are now a little weird to use. These were already pretty ingrained but I think the I’ve found some suitable solutions using the layering mechanism.

Typing Speed: Baby

The first day of typing on the keyboard was the equivalent of learning to walk again. The columnar layout was was bizarre, my head and hands just wouldn’t line up. Most reviews I had read before getting the keyboard mentioned a period of one to two weeks to have their typing recover but it was much longer for me.

I spend 5 minutes of every work day just warming up my hands on keybr as well as typingclub. Keybr for raw speed, typingclub for accuracy as it includes complex sentences with special punctuation. My stats on keybr returned to their previous levels around 5 weeks. For typingclub, it felt closer to 10 weeks before I could hit the same scores that I could before. Now, you might be thinking the hit in keyboard speed would be a huge negative for someone who drives everything through keyboard commands. What I found was that typing speed, for me, wasn’t as big a loss.

The wins

Navigating with keyboard commands came back very quickly. Even though my typing speed took forever to recover, the new layout for modifier keys made it really easy to get back to navigating around quickly as well as help me with having easier access to alt via the thumb cluster. For example, alt-f and alt-b in bash are like navigating with w and b in vim so it’s nice to be able to hit those more comfortably.

While originally they columnar felt like huge jumps in between keys, it did make it feel like I could more accurately hit the keys that I wanted. Keys on a standard keyboard are all off center from each other it made it hard to be sure of where some keys were. v and b would always get mixed up. Now it feels like my head lines up with my hands, I don’t get lost looking for keys.

The split keyboard helped clean up some bad habits of sharing keys between hands. That habit was impossible to kick. It also helped with should pain that was occurring after longer typing sessions. Normal keyboards make me hunch more than is probably good for me in the long run.

Being able to remove all my old custom keyboard hacks out of software and into firmware was a huge win. Capslock was already being used as a layer so that I could hold it and hit j and k and have it map to arrow up and arrow down keys via xkb maps. I used to use hammerspoon on mac for this as well. Having this handled by the keyboard is a much better solution.

Conclusion

Now, even though the typing speed took a longer time to recover than originally thought, I still think the overall shift was for the better. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who makes heavy use of their keyboard for navigation or customizes their keyboard through custom software. If you don’t do either, then I would recommend a split keyboard but it doesn’t have to be this one. If you want a split that is closer to a traditional keyboard setup I would take a look at the ultimate hacking keyboard. If you don’t fall into any of those categories, whether or not to buy seems more up in the air. One last thing to note is that I haven’t had any noticeable issues when switching to a regular keyboard.