Matias Ergo Pro Ergonomic Keyboard Review
If you’ve been hankering for a true ergonomic keyboard, but concerned about how fast or accurate typing will be once you get used to the funky new layout, your ship has come in. We’ve tested a lot of ergonomic keyboards here over the years—on both standing desks and treadmill desks—and we have to say, Matias has raised the game on staid competitors like GoldTouch and Kinesis by at least a couple of notches. Typing on their new Ergo Pro is impressively fast and precise, thanks to specially molded keys and advanced mechanical key switch technology. It offers a high range of adjustability for improved ergonomic comfort. And its compact design saves precious desk top space without compromising on user comfort and productivity. After our expert staff reviewers spent months trying out different options, the Ergo Pro is the only keyboard they unanimously wanted on their own desks.
Arrives within 7 business days
Compact design cuts down on wasted space while delivering comfortably-sized keys. Improved mechanical switches are easier to use and more durable than standard rubber membrane switches. Ergonomic features keep your wrists feeling comfortable; the large and supple built-in gel pads keep your palms comfortable anchored to the text for reliable hand positioning, while alleviating pressure on that sensitive base of the palms, just past the wrists.
Doesn't come with a separate Number Pad. On treadmill desks, has static susceptibility issues in cold, dry climates.
With more of our work lives taking place in a digital space, we rely increasingly on our typing ability to navigate our world. And with wrist injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome threatening the pain-free use of our hands, users are embracing ergonomically-correct keyboards over the $20 standard keyboards of yesteryear. After all, since your keyboard is the one device you are most continuously connected to throughout the day, there’s no sense in settling for a sub-par product.
To address these ergonomic health concerns, Matias—a Canadian manufacturer with decades of experience making computer peripherals and accessories, particularly keyboards—has unveiled the Ergo Pro ergonomic keyboard. Among the dizzying array of keyboards in the Matias catalog, the Ergo Pro is specifically designed to provide optimal typing comfort and wrist ergonomics. Its unconventional shape and ergonomic adjustability aims to prevent the wrist strain typical of other, more traditional keyboards.
Wait, What’s Wrong With My Regular Keyboard?
Look down at your hands as they type, and you can see where the problem lies. In a truly ergonomic position, you should be able to draw a straight line starting from your elbow, down the length of your forearm, and to the tip of your middle finger. Instead, standard keyboards force you to position your hands close together, resulting in your fingers deviating from the rest of your arm. Moreover, a flat keyboard forces your wrists to pronate, rotating inward and away from an ergonomically neutral position. This position strains your wrists over time, and can lead to some painful injuries.
Ergonomic keyboards like the Microsoft Sculpt introduce some space in the center of the keyboard, allowing you to type with your hands farther apart in more favorable angles. More dramatic keyboards take this concept even further by splitting the keyboard completely into two halves. Keyboards like the Goldtouch V2 and Kinesis Freestyle not only allow you to customize the space, they also let you adjust the angle of the two halves, reducing wrist pronation even further. The problem with these keyboards is that they’re often cumbersome affairs, with inefficient designs that take up too much space on your desk. That means less space for your mouse, laptop, or other desk materials, which makes customizing your workstation ergonomics more difficult overall.
It’s for this reason that the Ergo Pro caught our eye. It features the same split-board concept as the Kinesis, but in a more compact, space-efficient design. As a result, it doesn’t have as cumbersome a footprint as other ergonomic keyboards, but is still easy to type on. Our previous favorite, the Kinesis, had bulky dimensions of 15.375″ x 10″ (this is with the VIP3 accessory kit, which you shouldn’t go without if you want a truly ergonomic typing experience). The Ergo Pro, on the other hand, manages to come in at just 14.5″ x 6.5″. Those extra 60 square inches of desk space you get back means more room for your mouse, so you can keep your hands close to your body and your upper arm as vertical as possible (extending the upper arm to reach a mouse is a formula for repetitive strain injuries). Despite the size difference between the two, the Ergo Pro’s keys measure the same as those of the Kinesis. It does lack some of the Kinesis’s tertiary keys, such as three dedicated webpage navigation buttons, but no one we know really uses those anyway. Other, more commonly used secondary keys like the cut, copy, and paste are still equipped into the Ergo Pro, and we did not find the variety of keys lacking in any way.
The Ergo Pro is not only compact, it also offers versatile connectivity features. One of the downsides of many external keyboards is that they put you farther away from your laptop or PC, particularly when you need to connect to a USB port. Matias offers 3 USB ports built right into their Ergo Pro keyboard: Connect your flash drives, webcams, and external mouse right at your fingertips.
The Ergo Pro’s compact design lends itself well to our favorite adjustable-height desks, the iMovR Omega desk line (Everest, Olympus and Denali). While standard keyboards easily fit atop the Omega desk’s built-in, angle-adjusting SteadyType™ keyboard tray, the excess bulk of the GoldTouch and Kinesis make them less compatible in that space, especially if the adjustable tray is set to a sharp negative angle. The Ergo Pro fits naturally within the confines of the SteadyType tray, and the tray’s sliding pegs conveniently keep it secured in place.
Ergonomic Wrist Benefits
Ergo Pro has a few features designed to maintain proper wrist ergonomics throughout the day. While the two halves of the Kinesis can reach up to 11 inches apart, the Ergo Pro’s bridge cable connecting its halves can extend to a max of 17 inches, giving you a wider range of positioning options for your keyboard. A handy, spring-loaded spool keeps the cable neat and tidy on your desk.
Many ergonomic keyboards, the Kinesis included, have the ability to “tent”, sloping down the sides to better keep your wrists from unnecessary pronation. However, the Ergo Pro has the additional benefit of tilting towards the rear as well, which better aligns the keyboard with your arms and helps keep your wrists in a neutral position.
We’ve always recommend that users opt for the VIP3 accessory kit when purchasing the Kinesis. This kit includes an optional wrist rest, which we found an absolute necessity for typing comfortably—with nowhere to rest our wrists as we typed, they often became sore in little time. The Ergo Pro features a gel wrist rest as standard, and we were pleased to find that it was significantly thicker and softer than the one found on the Kinesis.
Fast, Accurate Typing
Typing on the Ergo Pro was not only comfortable, it felt smooth and effortless. Matias has plenty of industry experience manufacturing keyboards, and the Ergo Pro displays that same expertise. While flat, thin, Chiclet-style keys have come into vogue in the last few years, they don’t offer much in terms of accuracy. Ergo Pro’s keys are specially sculpted to prevent your fingers from sliding away. For maximum performance and durability, the Ergo Pro use mechanical switches, the gold standard for all key switches.
Why Key Switches Matter
Mechanical switch keyboards are universally praised for their tactile feedback. They’re designed to give a slight amount of resistance until just before the switch inside is actuated and the key’s circuit is closed. The key will then emit an audible click or a slight bump to let users know that the key’s input has been sent to the computer. That tactile feedback operates on a subconscious level, and with practice your brain learns to type quickly and accurately without having to press the key all the way down. This gives keyboards like the Ergo Pro an edge in terms of speed and comfort.
Membrane key switches, like the ones used by the Kinesis Freestyle2, consist of two conductive membrane pads spaced apart. Pressing a key causes the top layer to connect to the bottom layer, completing the circuit and inputting the key’s command to your computer. Membrane switches are much cheaper to make than mechanical switches, and the majority of keyboards today use these cheap switches. Membrane switches tend to be quieter than mechanical switches, useful for quiet shared workspaces where the constant clacking of dozens of keyboards can be distracting. However, membrane key switches give virtually no tactile feedback. This means that you don’t automatically know how hard you need to press a key before your computer registers the keystroke, forcing you to push the key all the way down. Typing on a membrane-switch keyboard is ultimately slower, less accurate, and more tiring than on a mechanical-switch keyboard.
While the majority of mechanical keyboard manufacturers are happy to simply buy their switches from a third party, Matias recognized the need for a quieter tactile mechanical keyboard. They spent 2 years researching and experimenting with different key switch designs, springs, lubricants, and dampeners, and have developed their own brand of Quiet Click mechanical switches. They’re much quieter than other mechanical switches, yet still provide the tactile feedback necessary for quick and comfortable typing.
The Ergo Pro is also more responsive than your typical keyboard. To save on costs, traditional keyboards will place multiple keys on the same circuit. This leads to phenomenon called “ghosting,” in which a keyboard will fail to recognize simultaneous keystrokes if they’re on the same circuit. This is why some keyboard will sometimes only enter part of a word you type, particularly if you’re speedy. In designing their keyboards, Matias has refused to cut corners. Each of Ergo Pro’s keys is put on its own circuit to avoid this ghosting effect. This feature ends up costing more, but delivers a far greater typing experience than keyboards without it. It allows fast and precise typing, with none of the embarrassing typos caused by missed keystrokes.
Matias offers a one-year warranty with the Ergo Pro, which isn’t quite as good as the 2-year warranty of the Kinesis Freestyle2. But with decades of experience manufacturing keyboards and other computer accessories, we’re confident that the Ergo Pro can stand up to even the most rigorous typists. The Ergo Pro is 80% designed and tooled by Matias, and their in-house staff oversees the entire assembly process to ensure a quality finished product every time. We’ve been using the Ergo Pro for several months now, and have not experienced any problems other than what we mention below regarding susceptibility to static electricity on treadmill desks.
At $200, the Ergo Pro costs much more than your typical mass-produced disposable keyboard, but this is a case where you really get what you pay for. Considering that your keyboard is the one part of your desk you are in constant contact with, and considering the importance of proper wrist ergonomics in preventing repetitive strain injuries, your keyboard should be a significant investment. The Ergo Pro pays dividends on its asking price with its built-in wrist rest, compact split-board design, unparalleled ergonomic adjustability, and a unique typing mechanism that’s fast, accurate, and quiet.
One Caveat for Treadmill Desk Users
We test all peripherals both on standing desks and treadmill desks. Unfortunately the Ergo Pro does seem to be slightly susceptible to static electricity build-up inherent to any treadmill desk. Placing an anti-static mat under the treadmill makes no difference because the mat only guards against static between the floor and the treadmill, not static between the user and their computer. When we use the product in Seattle, where we enjoy decent humidity throughout the year, there are only occasional blips like a missed character or a character suddenly repeating itself rapidly until another key is hit. However, when at the ErgoExpo in Las Vegas, on a cold, dry winter day, we noticed a rather severe susceptibility when trying to use the Ergo Pro on a treadmill desk. Therefore we have to caution users that if they live in a cold, dry climate, the Ergo Pro would not be the best choice for using on a treadmill desk. The Kinesis, GoldTouch and Microsoft ergonomic keyboard products do not exhibit any static susceptibility issues. The Matias Ergo Pro would have earned a rare 5-star rating from our review team if not for this issue. The Ergo Pro remains our top recommendation for standing desk workers.