Kinesis are a company that are well known for their ergonomic peripherals, in particular the striking Kinesis Advantage mechanical keyboards. And also their Freestyle2, in which this product is based on. So today we check out the Freestyle Edge from Kinesis Gaming, and I also have the lift kit which is an extra.
- Freestyle Edge Mechanical Keyboard
- 2 detachable palm supports
- 2 palm pads
- Quick start guide
- Lift Kit (tenting accessory to be used with palm supports)
- V3 Pro Kit (tenting accessory to be used without palm supports)
More info : https://gaming.kinesis-ergo.com/edge/
SIZE & LAYOUT
Like many other ergonomic keyboards, this is a split keyboard, which basically goes down the centre. The overall form factor would be like a 75% keyboard plus the macro keys on the left hand side. So it is actually pretty big. It’s longer than a tenkeyless board, but a tad shorter than a full sized.
But really, if you’re just gonna keep them together, then there’s really no point. So this will take up space on your desk.
This is a standard staggered keyboard, and does not feature an alternative ergonomic structure like their Kinesis Advantage 2. And like many other ergonomic keyboards such as the Ergodox.
The actual split line is quite standard. It can take some getting used to, first of all the coordination of having your hands further apart. But also you may be used to pressing for example the ‘B’ key with your right hand, or the ‘Y’ key with your left. But after a bit of time you get used to it, as I did, as I do usually press the ‘B’ key with my right.
Number entry is always awkward for me with split keyboards, and that can’t really be helped.
DESIGN & BUILD
The keyboard has a somewhat angular design. All sides have either a bevel or a chamfer, basically leaving no 90 degree corners anywhere. The two pieces do have considerably large headers which extends the height of the keyboard. And this houses some keys to mess around with the layouts and macros and stuff.
Looking at the side profile, this is a relatively slim design keyboard, but it still isn’t a floating key design, and I guess all the angles do make it appear slimmer. And we can also see that it’s pretty much flat. There’s no natural inclination to it, and the unfortunate part is, is that there are no flip feet, as we only have these 5 rubber feet for non slip. And while that may seem not particularly great, ergonomically a flatter typing surface is better for your wrists as they won’t be bent upwards as much. And that’s why the recommended position is to hover your hands over the keyboard. But I know many aren’t like that, including myself.
The keycaps are the cheap thin ABS plastic caps that are coated in black and laser etched to create the legends. They have a kinda glossy finish to it, and I’m not a fan of these and never have been. They shine easily. And won’t last and look as great as other keycaps, as eventually the legends will fade and you will get that permanent shine, and they don’t exude quality.
However since this is a custom layout, there is some reason to it.
Replacing these keycaps will be a challenge, but I guess it’s doable if you really want to change them.
Underneath the keycaps we have the Cherry MX Reds. And this is also available in the Cherry MX Browns for tactile, MX Blues for clicky, and MX Silvers. So these MX Reds are light linear keyswitches, meaning they have no bump or click.
PALM SUPPORTS & PADS
These are just made from plastic and are a hard surface. There’s some rubber feet for non slip, and these two loops that clip very easily onto the keyboard.
And that brings us to the cushioned palm pads. And these are just self adhesive pads that stick straight on. These are covered in a Lycra fabric which is quite smooth, and inside is just foam, and yeh, it basically just makes it more comfortable with it being more soft.
And these are nice and big to fit any hand size, and in turn makes the keyboard even larger. It has a gentle curve downwards and yeh it feels good and does what it’s supposed to do, in reducing that wrist angle.
this is in my opinion integral to the overall experience, which is unfortunate, because it will cost you another $25, because it is not included with the keyboard.
To use the lift kit, we have to have the wrist rests attached. And these are also very easy to attach. On each piece there are instructions and a label denoting what piece goes on what side.
All these basically do is angle the pieces at varying points, also referred to as tenting. If we rest our hands naturally on our desk, we can see that the natural position is slightly angled, and we have to rotate our arms slightly. And that’s what tenting tends to, in reducing what they say is forearm pronation which causes fatigue and can potentially lead to repetitive strain injuries.
There are 3 angles, at 5, 10, and 15 degrees.
5 degrees isn’t too foreign and is very easy to adapt to and is comfortable to use, making it a good place to start.
At 10 degrees you do start to feel that difference, and may need some getting used to. But again, very comfortable for me, and I quickly adapted to it.
At 15 degrees, which happens to be my favourite angle, it’s much steeper and again, you should probably work your way up to it. But I’m loving this tenting. However this does raise your wrists up quite a bit, so this is where your table and chair ergonomics comes in. Before an ergonomic keyboard, you’d probably get the most benefit out of a good table and chair setup.
SPLIT NATURE & CONFIGURATIONS
And this is where the split nature helps the keyboard conform to the natural positioning of your arms and hands. By pushing the 2 pieces apart, we can fan out the pieces so that our wrists are in line with our forearms. And this is pretty much what most ergonomic keyboards aim to do.
One of the more pushed forward configurations is the one handed setup which is especially marketed for gaming. And this is a great setup to give your mouse more room and bring it closer to the centre making it more comfortable and giving you more freedom.
I don’t game much these days, but I did enjoy the feel of doing this. But at the same time, I do like to type in chat once in awhile.
On the bottom of the left hand piece there’s a door which allows you to change the length of the cable. So by default it’s at its shortest, at just over 30cm. And it’s longest is just over 50cm, and you have the other lengths in between. So one of their other configurations is the XL split where you can put whatever you want, like a microphone, which is actually a pretty good setup idea if you don’t have a boom arm.
I don’t have one but a joystick seems useful. A steering wheel. Now this is something that I actually found useful, even though I hardly take out my steering wheel. Usually I would push my keyboard up, and then clamp on the wheel in front of it. But this legitimately does allow me to still use the keyboard comfortably.
PROGRAMMABILITY VIA SMARTSET APP
I think my main issue with the keyboard to me, is that to truly get the proper ergonomic experience, you have to get the lift kit which will add another $25 on top of the already high $200. However there’s not many mechanical keyboards of this particular nature. And relative to its competition, I guess it is fairly priced.
With this keyboard, they have pushed towards the gamer market, which is a new thing for them. And this makes sense as a great way to appeal to greater audiences. And this keyboard does truly cater for gamers. It’s all about flexibility and giving the user options in how they want to use their keyboard in conjunction with what game they’re playing. You always see these full sized ‘gaming’ keyboards which are basically just marketed purely on aesthetics, but they don’t make sense for gaming in nearly every aspect. But the split design is up for the task for whatever game genre, and the addition of the programmability and the Game Bank macro keys actually does make it a compelling gaming choice.