a review of the Planck EZ keyboard
For a year my finger has hovered over the “buy” button on the ZSA Planck keyboard. I’ve used the ZSA Moonlander for most of the pandemic, and the ortholinear layout, plus moving to Colemak has made my near constant wrist and hand pain a thing of the past. As a reward for this development, I’ve decided to further torture my hands with only 40% non-split layout. Buying a third mechanical keyboard means I’m fully cursed by the keyboard demon.
It’s hard to illustrate just how small this thing is: 9" x 3" with only 47 keys. The keyboard on a MacBook Air has 82 and measures at a gargantuan (lol) 10" x 5". The tiny nature of the Planck belies a ton of function, but makes it super portable.
There isn’t a great reason to buy this keyboard unless you love taking your clicky mechanical friend with you on trips to the office or abroad, which is exactly why I picked one up.
For the real heads out there, I also chose Kalith copper switches, and by and large I appreciate the quicker actuation than the Cherry browns. In day to day use this mostly makes typing feel faster.
Using the Planck
In order to type weird things like “numbers” and “symbols” you simply hold down a button that changes the layer of the keyboard keys, which changes each button to a new function. For most things, you just, well, type. I moved over to using a non-standard keyboard layout long ago, and my fingers learned not just those keys, but also the arrow and modifier buttons I’d assigned to my Moonlander. After a little tweaking, I ended-up with this.
If you’re unused to custom layouts or typing on a laptop, this might seem utterly bizarre, especially with the thumb placement of the enter key, and the backspace where a caps lock is on a “normal” keyboard. Trust me, it gets easier to use this after a period of time, but if you try switching there will be at least a week where your friends and coworkers mock either the speed of your messaging or the sudden proliferation of typos. For me, it was sending messages like “don don don don it it it it” instead of “don’t” and “it’s”. I modified the location of my ’ key in order to address this, and now I’m doing much better.
In use, the Planck feels like a very nice, regular mechanical keyboard. On occasion, I have to think a little before typing ‘%’ for instance, but I’m surprised by how spacious it feels, broadly-speaking. The big difference I’m finding right away is the move from widely-spaced split keyboard sections to a middle-of-the-desk board. I’ll learn over the next few weeks if the Planck brings back any wrist or hand pain, which would send me back to full-time use of the Moonlander.
I’m glad I bought this weird little keyboard, and since I spend most of my days typing into a chat window, document, or spreadsheet, anything that makes typing a bit more novel and fun makes my life better. I think I get why people love these things, and why buying and building keyboards is such a popular nerd hobby.