When retro is more than skin deep: Matias' mechanical ergo keyboard

At CES 2014, the boutique keyboard maker unveils a new model aimed at those who want a split design for ergonomic reasons.

The $200 Matias Ergo Pro will ship for Mac and Windows machines starting in August.
The $200 Matias Ergo Pro will ship for Mac and Windows machines starting in August. Matias

Plenty of devices -- routers and digital cameras , for example -- adopt retro styling that's mostly cosmetic. But for boutique keyboard maker Matias, there's a retro feature that deserves to live on: the mechanical keyswitch.

Too many keyboards today have keys that are cheap, spongy, and short-lived. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Matias announced its latest model, the $200 Matias Ergo Pro, that brings the company's more robust design to those who want a split keyboard for ergonomics reasons.

The Ergo isn't cheap, but company founder Edgar Matias thinks it's worth the price. "It's better mostly because of how it feels to type on," he said. "The key switches are mechanical which are much higher quality than the membrane switches others use."

It'll be available starting in August for Windows and Mac computers, but customers can preorder now.

The keyboard splits into two independent halves connected by a thin, flexible communications cable that reaches as long as a foot. The two halves can be oriented with various tilts to accommodate different arm positions.

Matias touts the keyboard's navigation keys, arranged in a cluster to the lower right so the keyboard doesn't have to stretch awkwardly on the right-hand side. It's also got three USB 2.0 ports, media control keys, and dedicated keys for undo, cut, copy, and paste.

The Matias Ergo Pro has dedicated keys for cut, copy, paste, and undo on the left half and for navigation on the right.
The Matias Ergo Pro has dedicated keys for cut, copy, paste, and undo on the left half and for navigation on the right. Matias

For the security-conscious, Matias also announced the $170 Secure Pro keyboard, a wireless keyboard that encrypts signals with the AES standard. It's also designed in Mac and Windows models.

Some wireless keyboards use small batteries but still don't have much electrical power for frequently checking for keystrokes. Matias said this results in a noticeable lag between when you hit a key and when it registers.

"The extra-large battery in the Secure Pro allowed us to eliminate this problem completely," he said. "There is no perceptible lag."

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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