TypeMatrix EZ-Reach 2030 is a better choice than a laptop keyboard

TypeMatrix EZ-Reach 2030 is a better choice than a laptop keyboard

Maybe you’re not ready to take the leap into a full-on ergonomic split keyboard. That’s okay, that’s cool, that’s understandable. They’re weird! Especially ones like my Kinesis Advantage with the key bowls and such. But maybe your poor pinkies are starting to get tired and you’re ready to start using your thumbs for more than just the space bar. Or you want to be able to type ‘c’ properly, with your middle finger.

Of course, you could use this as a desktop keyboard as well, although it’s unfortunate that Control and Shift are stuck on the pinkies. More about that later.

In that case, the TypeMatrix could be the keyboard for you. Or maybe for travel you, because it’s designed as a quasi-ergonomic, orthonormal layout travel keyboard to pair with your laptop, and as such it sits directly over a laptop keyboard without blocking the track pad. (How do people use those things, anyway?)

When I saw this keyboard on eBay, I was attracted by two things: the layout, and the dedicated Dvorak light. (And, let’s be honest — the price was right.) I’ve always found myself generally turned off by chocolate bar-style ortholinear keebs because they’re so incredibly cramped, but this one seemed a more acceptable because of the slight split.

The vertical Shifts, Enter, and Backspace are interesting, as is the forced relocation of Caps Lock, which has been relegated to the middle top between F5 and F6. There are a ridiculous number of homing bumps and bars on this thing, which I think is really cool. Ten of the keys have homing bumps, and seventeen of them have homing bars. One has both — the left hand Function key, to distinguish it from Control. That makes 30% of the keys with homing bits, compared to just two homing anything (F and J) on TKL keebs or three things (the 5 in the number pad) if you have a full keyboard.

The first thing I noticed was the fantastic number pad integration. The different colored keycaps are a nice touch, because the gray makes the number pad stand out, and the red Delete is easy to find since Num Lock is squatting in the upper right corner. Why does Delete always feel like an afterthought on compact keebs? I also like the location of the arrows, and it makes me think of the AlphaSmart NEO layout. Unfortunately, it comes at the cost of burying the right hand Enter down in no-man’s land where you can’t exactly hit it blindly with great accuracy right away. If only you could swap Shift and Enter without messing up the number pad!

In theory, the homing bar would help you hit that right hand Enter if you wanted to use it outside of the number pad. I did read a review of the EZ-Reach that said the homing bits are a tad sharp when the keyboard is brand new, but these feel fine to me.

Note that all the inside keys except the Fs have a homing bar to help you navigate the middle keys without looking. I hesitate to call them thumb keys, because I doubt you’re supposed to use your thumb to hit the middle back space, though I suppose if your fingers are long enough, suit yourself. I myself cannot. I so wish that TypeMatrix had not wasted so much real estate on the space bar, which is really more like a space slab. It’s a sidewalk of a space bar. And then there’s all that unused space underneath the space slab? Infuriating.

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