My Ultimate Hacking Keyboard Review
Table of Contents
Since I live in Sweden I opted for the ISO version. I also chose to not go with any prints on the key caps since I knew how customizable this keyboard is, and that the default bindings might not be to my likings. With the keyboard I also ordered the wooden wrist wrests. These are for sure a must if you're getting this keyboard. It's more or less not usable if you don't have these. When I got the keyboard the plastic feet were actually missing, which felt a bit unprofessional. I emailed the team and they shipped a pair to me the coming day. These were a pain to install, but also necessary for using this keyboard in my opinion.
The main part of the keyboard is plastic, with some metal parts on the underside. It is however really sturdy and doesn't flex at all. The plastic feet that are mounted on the underside of the keyboard are really bad quality and terrible experience installing. You firstly have to click the two parts together (the base and the tilting part). This is a very obnoxious process and it feels like you will break something. And yes, after a couple of times installing and uninstalling these feet, one of them broke for me.
The key caps are made out of ABS plastic and don't feel especially high quality. They start to shine just after a couple of months of regular use. They are however fine in my opinion for the price of the keyboard. The downside here though is the the key caps are non-standard. The layout is specific to this keyboard, which makes it very difficult to replace this set with a higher quality PBT set. If you want to replace the key caps on this keyboard with a custom set I will link to a couple of people who have done this.
When it comes to connectivity, this keyboard does feel a bit outdated. It connects from Mini USB to USB 2.0. Here I would at least have liked to see USB C to USB 3.0. At the time of writing this review, the team is working at a second iteration which will come with my desired connectivity configuration. To connect the halves together you have to use a coiled telephone-like cable between the two halved. Although, if you don't use the keyboard in split mode, you don't need to use this cable at all. I do feel that the coiled cable can become a bit annoying after some time. Every now and then it gets a bit in the way of some keys, which can certainly get irritating.
Another downside on this category is that they make it pretty difficult to use your own cable. Since the Mini USB connector connects on the underside of the keyboard, in a small channel, it makes it difficult to use any other cable since most of the more luxurious ones tend to have a slightly bulkier connector.
This keyboard can be customized in a lot of different ways. You do this with a tool called UHK agent. I must say this is one of the better configuration tools I've used. Here you can customize each available layer, where you can bind each key to whatever action you want. Since there are 2 extra buttons on the bottom of the keyboard, you can extend a lot of functionality just by holding down one of these, and make all other keys have a ulterior action. Another nice feature of this keyboard is mouse mode. By holding down right control, j, k, l and i will move the cursor across the screen. I don't use this very often but it's a nice feature.
So, how does it feel to use this keyboard? I really like it. The learning curve was quite small and I learned to type as I previously did in just a week. The layout is fairly similar to a regular keyboard, and not like something like a Ergodox. This comes with a Qwerty layout and isn't, like many other split keyboards, ortholinear. This means that the vertical key rows are aligned in a straight row, instead of in a overlapping fashion. I haven't actually tried ortholinear, but I think it's also possible to quite quickly get used to. I use this keyboard on a daily basis to do my job. I work as a software developer, so I spend a lot of time with this keyboard on a regular day.
In short, I really like writing on this keyboard. I use MX Red switches which are nice and smooth, and not too loud. The split fashion makes my shoulders and wrests really relaxed and I can type in way longer sessions than when I use a non split keyboard. The only downsize with using this keyboard would be that my wrists can get a bit stale, since they're very static when I have them on the wrist wrests.
Overall score: 3.5/5
To summarize, this is a great keyboard for people that spend a lot of time in front of computers. It isn't necessarily only for programmers. I can definitely see others use this keyboard as well. After getting the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard I now get excited to write when sitting down at my desk. This is something I didn't get previously with other keyboards. My wrists, back, and shoulders don't get as strained and I generally feel better after work. It is a pricy keyboard, that's for sure. I do however think It's worth the money. If we spend our majority of the time in a day in front of a computer I think it's perfectly valid to spend money on a good keyboard.