Some very active typists swear by split-style keyboards for maintaining posture and reducing the impact of repetitive stress. These folks have mostly been left out of the conversation when it comes to keyboards crammed with clicky switches, though. The barren harvest of split boards with Cherry MX switches ends now that Kinesis' Freestyle Edge keyboard is available for preorder. The standard tenkeyless layout has 87 keys, though this board's eight macro keys swell the total to 95. The company's Kickstarter campaign from March generated enough interest to get the Freestyle Edge a fixed spot in the company's lineup.
Buyers can choose between Cherry MX Blue, Brown, or Red switches, but the backlighting is blue regardless of switch choice. The lighting has nine selectable brightness levels, a breathing effect, and it can be left off entirely. The left edge of the board sports eight programmable macro keys. Like most gaming keyboards, the Freestyle Edge has anti-ghosting functionality, an N-key rollover mode, and a 1-ms response time. Kinesis' SmartSet programming utility requires Windows, but the keyboard works with all modern operating systems. The board has a rather large 4 MB of onboard memory. We figure that the SmartSet utility might live in this space.
The two sides of the board are connected by a braided cable that allows up to 20" (51 cm) of separation between the halves. The assembly connects to the host system with a 6' (1.8 m) USB cable. The keyboard itself measures 15.5" wide, 7.25" deep, and 1.25" tall (39 cm x 18 cm x 3.2 cm) and weighs in at 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg). The included palm rests add another 3" (7.6 cm) to the depth. Available options include palm pads and a lift kit for users that want to customize the keyboard further.
Kinesis expects retail availability of the Freestyle Edge to begin in November of this year. The board costs a rather stiff $219, but the coupon code NEWSLETTER will take 20% off the price for the time being, chopping $44 off for a sale price of $175. The manufacturer backs the keyboard with a two-year warranty.