Review of Keyboardio Model 01

Last updated on February 17, 2018
Tags: Keyboards

This is a review of the Keyboardio, written after a couple hours of usage, from the point of view of a long-time Kinesis advantage user.

First impressions

The first impression of the Model 01 is that of excellent build quality, which is enhanced by no-less-excellent boxing. The only dissonant note is that the keyboard finish leaves a bit of sticky residue on the hands; but surely this will improve with time. The keyboard has a flashy “designer” look — likely to attract attention at the office.

Right after connecting the keyboard I went into the layout configuration process, so that it would roughly correspond to the layout that I have on the Kinesis. I was expecting that configuring the keyboard would be difficult (one has to flash the firmware), but it was in fact nice and easy, even though the procedure might rebut non-programmers.

In the first minutes of use, the only major issue that I have with the keyboard concerns the switches. Keyboardio have decided to use Matias switches instead of Cherry switches. Unfortunately, as I see it the Matias quiet switches have a poor feel compared to the Cherry MX browns that I’m used to. More specifically, they give a “grinding” feel, as if some fine dust had come into the switch mechanism.

Comparison with the Kinesis Advantage

Let’s look at the pro and cons of either option:

The Keyboardio Model 01 wins in the following areas, in order of importance:

Kinesis wins in the following areas:

Areas where I declare tie:


I applaud Keyboardio for putting together such an impressive product. However despite the Model 01 ticking most of the boxes I feel that the Kinesis wins in ergonomics, and that is what counts for me. Still, I will attempt to build proper wrist rests for the Model 01, and perhaps replace the switches — if successful this may make it the superior choice. In the meantime the main functional advantage of the Model 01 is its portability, so I might be bringing it on travels. It is a shame that it does not come with bluetooth connectivity though.

Recommendations for Keyboardio Model 02

In case Keyboardio would work on a Model 02, I am offering some tips to them. As I see it, a Model 02 could either be a bigger keyboard with improved ergonomics, or a smaller keyboard with good ergonomics but focused on portability.

If going for improved ergonomics, keyboardio should use a keywell instead of custom keycaps. In the build process it seemed like custom keycaps were a major source of difficulties. Furthermore, replacing keycaps becomes difficult (involving 3D printing), or purely dependent on Keyboardio. A shame for an “heirloom grade” keyboard.

If going for portability, keyboardio should work a bit on the footprint. Another idea would be to get rid of the leds.Save power, save weight, cut costs, simplify the config.

In either case, I would recommend to: