Kinesis Freestyle keyboard + Magic trackpad

I wore down two Microsoft Natural keyboards already, and I still believe it is simply the best keyboard on the market thanks to big control/middle keys and curved key placement. I was early adopter of Logitech MX Revolution Mouse, and I still did not hold in hands any mice that would be at least comparable to the Revolution model. However, in never ending search for excellence I got to retire both devices recently.

The Natural Keyboard was so comfortable, that constantly moving right hand about 45 degrees clockwise to reach the mouse turned to annoying exercise over time. Thanks to excellent design of the mouse I did not come even close to any injures, but at the end of a day the discomfort was obvious. So, one day I asked myself – why can’t I have a keyboard with multitouch trackpad, to work the way I do while traveling with MacBook Pro?

No need to be a genius to come up with an idea of pairing Kinesis Freestyle keyboard with Apple Magic Trackpad. Couple of online orders, and voila: split keyboard with trackpad are sitting on my desk:

Kinesis Freestyle with Magic Trackpad

Please note the alignment of trackpad – unlike laptops or keyboard/trackpad combos it is rotated 45 degrees counter clockwise to be aligned with my right hand.

Also, after typing a couple paragraphs I felt pain in my wrists – keeping palms in horisontal position and without support was too unusual to me. So, I had to order VIP kit for the keyboard. The kit consists of palm rest pads and keyboard risers.

Kinesis Freestyle with Magic Trackpad

Some observations after 3 weeks of using the split keys with trackpad.

  • The Microsoft Natural keyboard is still the best. I miss big Control/Option/Command keys, I miss curved key rows (especially when typing square brackets and -/+/=) and I miss … Esc key, as it is unexpectedly placed far far away on Kinesis keyboard.
  • I enjoy additional free space on my desk, because Kinesis keyboard has smaller footprint.
  • I quit using mouse. It is still here, and I happened to grab it infrequently during first days, but now I consider retiring it completely.
  • Apple made good decision to support only a few trackpad gestures. You may find both free and commercial software (such as BetterTouchTool) that recognizes a whole lot of additional gestures, but unfortunately you must be very careful when touching the pad to make sure the system will not treat your “three finger tap” as “single finger tap right side middle”. Your mileage may vary, but in my experience even being a piano player does not help much, so I had to uninstall the enhancements.
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11 Responses to Kinesis Freestyle keyboard + Magic trackpad

  1. Sc0tTy says:

    I’ve been using the Kenisis Freestyle for just less than a month. I was in love with this keyboard the moment i saw it, but because both boards can move arround ( also have the VIP accesoire ) i’m constantly changing positions to find the best one. Could you make some more pics ( while using the keyboard ) and give your opinion of the best position.

  2. alex says:

    The pictures in blog post show actual positions I use. But your mileage may vary…

  3. Jason says:

    It surprises me that you would pick the Natural 4000 over the Freestyle after trying both – you must have pretty strong hands. :) I really wanted to like the MS Natural when I tried it some time ago, but the keys were so tough to press, I felt like I needed a very heavy pair of hammers – one for each hand – to type on it. By contrast, the Freestyle has the nicest action of any non-mechanical keyboard I’ve ever tried, and in the area of noise it beats even mechanical boards.

    I did my own review on the Freestyle at my blog.

    • alex says:

      The Freestyle requires wider finger movements to reach []\-= and `12 regions. Esc key is so distant, that I have to lift whole left hand to hit the key. As to key weight, the Freestyle definitely has lighter keys, but both keyboards are in my comfortability range. May be the range is too wide due to practicing piano playing, may be you just got defective keyboard, I do not know. But I would stay with Natural, if I could split it to put the trackpad in the middle.

      • Jason says:

        Interesting. I type very fast and use [] a lot, but I had not noticed the additional distance to that area until you mentioned it. My last keyboard was an old Natural Elite, and find the Esc key on the Freestyle an improvement simply because it is so large.

        A few things about the Freestyle layout really irritate me. The Alt keys are very difficult to hit without moving your whole hand for one, and there’s no right Windows button. (I use Windows-M a lot to clear my work area.) Most annoyingly of all, however, is the presence of the browser Home button right next to the tab key. Twice in the short amount of time I’ve owned the keyboard, I’ve been filling out a form online and accidentally hit that key instead of Tab – tossing myself out of the form and losing all my work!

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  5. Nerissa says:

    Please could you tell me where you got the split keyboard (without cord)? All links I have seen have a cord between joining the two peices.

    Thanks,

    • alex says:

      The keyboard has a cord. It is black, the monitor stand is black as well, so the cord is invisible due to high contrast.

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