Matias Ergo Pro review: my new favourite ergonomic keyboard

2015-03-20 03.05.07

Ergonomic keyboards have been a kind of holy grail in the mechanical keyboard industry for a long time; many companies have produced one, but none has become a standout success.

Naturally, when we heard that Matias were working on an ergonomic keyboard of their own, we were intrigued. It’s called the Matias Ergo Pro, and I’ve been lucky enough to try out an early USA production model for the past two weeks. Here’s what I think.

Design

The Matias Ergo Pro comes in two halves of roughly equal size. The split enforces correct hand placement for the main keys, while leaving ancillary keys on the outside. The two halves are connected by a 3.5mm cable, which sounded weird initially but actually makes a lot of sense – they are easily and cheaply replaced, and the version provided with the keyboard has a spool to minimise cable clutter.

A view of the back of the keyboard, showing two of the three USB ports and the 3.5mm bridge

A view of the back of the keyboard, showing two of the three USB ports and the 3.5mm bridge

On the left side you have small individual keys for undo, cut, copy and paste, as well as a Function key. On European models*, you have three full-size keys for cut, copy and paste (no undo).

On the right, you have media controls on the F keys, plus eight more small keys for the navigation cluster and directional arrows tucked into the right bottom corner.

Here's the layout of the US version of the Ergo Pro.

Here’s the layout of the US version of the Ergo Pro.

The advantage of this design is that it keeps the width of a keyboard to a minimum, while still including all of the keys that you’d expect.

The keyboard uses Matias’ Quiet Click mechanical switches, an Alps variant. The switches are super quiet, yet retain satisfying tactile feedback. This makes them ideal for typing even in quiet environments, and they’re quite nice for gaming as well (as I’ll mention later). The keyboard features N-Key Rollover, meaning you can press down as many keys as you like simultaneously, and all will be correctly registered.

A look at the underside of the keyboard

A look at the underside of the keyboard

The Ergo Pro is adjustable, an important consideration for any ergonomic keyboard.  Leg supports can be flipped out, giving the keyboard 9° tenting and 4.5° negative tilt. Tenting refers to the inner side of each half sitting higher than the outside, forming a tent shape. Negative tilt is provided by a pair of legs under each wrist rest.

Tenting

Tenting

Finally, the keyboard is connected to your PC using a micro USB cable. Two such cables are provided, both with a handy right-angle jack on the micro USB side. The Ergo Pro also includes three USB ports for connecting additional devices like mice, USB drives and game controllers.

Impressions

Writing

The Ergo Pro is designed as a writer’s keyboard, so it seems only natural that we talk about this first. The keyboard certainly delivers on this front, immediately offering a more intuitive layout and better-feeling switches than all other ergonomic keyboards I’ve tried over the years.

The sole problem I had was the placement of the key to the left of ‘n’ – for whatever reason I am accustomed to pressing the ‘b’ key with my right hand, so I kept reaching over and hitting ctrl instead of b as I intended. I slowly trained myself to type the b using my left hand, but it did take a while. I’d say that the closer you are to the standard ‘home row’ typing method, the easier you’ll find the keyboard to adopt.

1

Of course, there are more keys on the keyboard beyond the letter keys in the middle. I found the modifiers and ancillary keys well-placed and easy to hit, which was my biggest issue with other ergonomic keyboards in the past – there’s little relearning required here. The home/end/page up/page down keys are a little unusual in their size and placement, but I quickly adapted here.

In terms of ergonomics, I definitely found the Ergo Pro more comfortable than standard mechanical keyboards. Being able to choose the width of the keyboard at any time is a great perk, and it’s also nice to have a little space to put your cup of tea. The palm rests are great as well, much more comfortable than resting your palms and wrists on your desk.

It just feels cool too – it reminds me of operators in The Matrix and its sequels, cooly summoning information and dispatching advice in front of a bank of monitors.

Gaming

Being a big gamer, I of course had to try the Ergo Pro in a few games. I played Counter-Strike and Heroes of the Storm on the keyboard, and found it quite pleasant. The keys were largely on the left side of the keyboard in these two games, so I could just keep the left half of the board at the front of my desk and push the other to the back, leaving me plenty of space for my mouse. The keyboard kept up even in hectic moments, and I felt my wrists were in much better condition at the end of a session than they would be normally.

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A convenient place for tea. Please excuse the clutter.

Conclusion

The Matias Ergo Pro is a comfortable keyboard that’s great for typing and gaming alike, and I’d definitely recommend you check it out. Its near-standard layout really makes it easy to use without a long training period, and also ensure that it doesn’t take up a lot of space. Overall then, a quality mechanical ergonomic keyboard.

Update: Hidden DIP switches

The Matias Ergo Pro also contains hidden DIP switches, allowing you to remap either of the spacebars to backspace, swap Ctrl and Caps Lock (for *nix systems) and even swap between Mac and PC layouts. The DIP switches can be found underneath the right-side Alt key.

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Links

The Matias Ergo Pro is available from The Keyboard Company Store in the UK, and all are in stock at the time of writing. Please see the links below to place your orders, see more information and check prices:

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  • Chetan

    Thanks for sharing your opinion with us. I’ve been looking for reviews ever since the first batch was shipped. I’m awaiting my April shipping now =). Can’t wait and good to hear mostly positive reviews.

  • marineboy

    HI William, thank you for a great review. I actually saw this product on Fentek.. (http://www.fentek-ind.com/ergo_pro_keyboard.htm#.VVyQ1RfZ3EY) and love the design and aesthetic product look. But Fentek is not selling as Matias brand. I was asking if the connecting cable between the 2 halves can be longer or replaceable, and I was told it was hardwired. So correct me if I’m wrong…are these 2 the same? Thank you.

    • Hi, thanks! That’s curious – I haven’t seen that site before, but despite the lack of the Matias branding all of the photos and diagrams are identical to the Ergo Pro, so I’d assume the two are the same. The connecting cable looks like a 3.5mm audio cable, and it’s definitely detachable instead of being hardwired… I don’t know for sure, but I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t replace it with a longer cable, although it is very long already. I hope this answers your question.

      • marineboy

        Thank you William…well Fentek explained the bridge cable was 12 inches long but I’m using it with my MBP on my bed. So the cable has to run under my knees. haha… At my most comfortable shoulder width (as wide as a normal office chair armrest). I’m not sure if theirs was a spool cable.

        Do you actually own the Ergo Pro? I used to have the Comfort Ergo Magic keyboard but sold it off after I moved to my new job (I dun have a desk to work on). But I decided to buy one compact model for home use when my wrist were starting to groan again.

        • Ah, that makes sense. I guess try replacing it with a longer 3.5mm cable and see if it still works 🙂 I don’t own the Ergo Pro, it went back to the main office after I finished my review.

          • marineboy

            Oh ok. Thank you for your help. 🙂

    • ptb

      According to this review: http://www.marco.org/2015/02/26/matis-ergo-pro-review the connecting cable is a 4-pole TRRS 3.5mm male-to-male cable. Do a search on Google for this Amazon part number: B00IYW5CTK. That part number happens to be a 6-foot cable, but I also saw some 2-foot and 3-foot versions too.

      • marineboy

        Does it have to a specific 3.5mm male to make cable? I was thinking of just getting it from a local store. Would presume it’s the same audio cable.

        • ptb

          It’s possible you could find the correct cable at RadioShack. It would need to be a 4-pole/4-conductor TRRS audio cable (not a standard audio cable). This photo shows a comparison of what you’d be looking for: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IPod_and_iPhone_audio_plugs.JPG Notice that the left most connector only has two insulating white rings (common audio cable). The center connector (with three white insulating rings) is what you’d want on both ends of the cable (TRRS audio cable).

          • marineboy

            Thank you so much. Yes I think the TRRS audio cable shouldn’t be too hard to find. I was looking at the main cable and was wondering why it was right angled..luckily its a mini usb connector…which can be easily replaced again. I just hope the product I’m buying from Fentek is the same product with Matias. Thank you for the great advice 🙂

  • marineboy

    Ok I’ve made my order directly from Matias instead of Fentek cos it seems cheaper overall and original. Haven’t debit from my credit card yet. Can’t wait to get hold of my own piece (probably till July). 🙂

  • RancidHeart

    I got one. Sometimes, at random moments (usually during start up) it becomes unrecognized by my computer. But when it works, it is awesome. I wonder if ….
    it just happened again!
    I think its either the chord that came with it, or the USB outlet on the keyboard.

    4 stars. 5 if I can fix the problem.

    • Hmm, that’s odd! Does it display the same behaviour in different USB ports? What about a different computer entirely? Please get in touch with our customer service rep, Helen, at helen@keyboardco.com. We’ll try to get your issue sorted 🙂

  • Zach Hines

    Hey… I’m thinking about purchasing one of these MEPs and the next shipment wont be out until August. I’m going to grad school in the middle of Aug. Do you think they normally ship towards the beginning, middle or end of the month?
    Thanks

  • marineboy

    Just arrived yesterday. Had my first experience typing some nonsense so as to experience every key. It was so fulfilling!!! I’m just waiting for waiting for my 3rd party extended bridge cable ordered from Amazon to replace the spool. Will post a pic of that soon. :))

    • Right on! Keep us updated, and if you want to write a blog of your impressions then we’d be happy to publish it 🙂

  • Tepres

    I ordered one of these last week but it became a very frustrating experience with backspace key presses often leading to two backspaces coming out.

    Occasionally I’d press tab/return and continue to get tabs/returns sent until I pressed the same key again.

    It’s my first Matias keyboard and my confidence is shaken.

    • Oh dear, that doesn’t sound like an ideal first impression. Please contact helen@keyboardco.com with details of the problem and we’ll try to sort out this issue.

  • Thanks a lot

  • David Wuertele

    The Matias Ergo Pro has always had ghosting problems for me. I see the number 7 show up regularly when I am SURE I did not type it. It usually happens when I’m going fast and modifier keys are involved. Recently (after less than 1 year of use), the left-hand shift key stopped working. In summary, I am not impressed with the quality of this keyboard. When it comes to cherry switches, I think WASD makes the most reliable keyboards, but they do not have an ergonomic model. I’m hoping they come out with one, because for now I am reverting to my 22-year-old Cherry ErgoPlus Model MX 5000 which still works better than the 1-year-old Matias Ergo Pro.

  • Nic in Canada

    I got a Ergo Pro this year (2016), and like another reviewer (David Wuertele), my confidence in that keyboard is minimal at best.

    The first one I got lasted 3 weeks. Then the 5 key did not work anymore. It was replaced and the second one lasted 2 hours. Then the i key started doubling, not showing up at all, or coming out of sequence (I would type ing, I would get ngi. And this typing quite slowly…). I kept using it and after another hour, the i key came back to life. I am typing this comment with the Matias.

    I am now debating sending it back for a refund. I already spent shipping to sent it back once… I wonder if it will last.

    What is incredible is that I have cheap keyboards (not ergonomic in any way) that have lasted me 20 years, without a single problem. How hard is it to produce a reliable keyboard in 2016, especially at that price point?

    Note for keyboardco, I did not purchase it from you, I was just looking for similar experiences to mine with Matias products. Seems I found some!